MySpace adds music features in bid to reinvent itself

CEO Owen Van Natta tells Web 2.0 Summit about plans to rebuild

As part of an attempt to reinvent itself, MySpace unveiled a slew of new music products, including a massive collection of music videos, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta took the main stage Wednesday to talk about the lagging social network's business strategy and its position behind rival Facebook. But Van Natta strove to keep the packed session on the topic of new music services being dished up on the site.

Separately, reports circulated Wednesday that Google was also planning a music service.

The company announced MySpace Music Videos, which is set up to be one of the most biggest collections of online videos. Van Natta explained that they worked with the company's music label partners to gather fully licensed music videos.

In order to give users better access to the video library, MySpace also unveiled a new Video Search Tab. The tab is designed to help users search for videos, songs and artist profiles.

MySpace's roster of new music products also includes an Artist Dashboard. The dashboard is designed to give bands and singers with MySpace profiles analytics on who is listening to their music and how they're interacting with it.

"We think MySpace has the opportunity to be the next generation digital distributor of content," said Van Natta, who was an early executive at Facebook before leaving to join MySpace. "MySpace is positioned uniquely to be the place where the socialization of content occurs."

MySpace has been slipping in popularity as rival Facebook moved to the top of the social networking pile. Last December, Facebook drew almost twice as many worldwide visitors as MySpace. In June, Facebook surpassed MySpace in the U.S., which had been MySpace's stronghold.

At the beginning of Van Natta's presentation, the moderator polled the audience about what social networking site they used. A smattering of hands went up to show people who used MySpace. When asked who used Facebook, a sea of hands shot up, along with a ripple of laughter from the audience.

"Thanks for framing that up for me," Van Natta said.

Later in his presentation, the MySpace CEO said he's optimistic about the company's ability to get back on its feet.

"We believe that we have all of the building blocks and we need to focus on execution," he said. "If we do a great job at executing and building a great user experience... then we will realize this vision to be the place where you discover a huge amount of content through other people. If that is happening in music or other areas, like games, TV and films, it'll be easy to recognize success because you'll just know this is where a huge amount of that socialization is happening."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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