Remember when News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) MySpace was the place for garage bands? Indies everywhere flocked to the site, uploading as many as four songs, then letting the viral nature of the Web work its democratic magic. The wired world was just a click away from their demo tape.
The times, they may be a-changing. The majors are pulling in with their beefy moving vans, orchestrated marketing mantras, and polished tunes. MySpace is apparently negotiating with the major labels to launch a free streaming service and paid MP3 download offering through its site.
Sure, major-label artists have been making a home on MySpace for years. However, the launch of what is likely to be an ad-supported revenue-sharing service with the majors will draw even more ears to the commercialized fare. It will be that much harder for the garage-band artists to get noticed.
The time is ripe for an indie revolt. MySpace Music was so cool at first, even launching compilation CDs. Now it's selling out. Some music portals like CBS' (NYSE: CBS ) Last.fm have been helping indies monetize their digital tracks through ad-sharing deals. To be fair, even MySpace partnered with SnoCap to give unsigned artists a platform to sell their tunes through their pages.
However, where is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) in all this? Shouldn't the music leader be all over the indie movement by giving every artist a shot at the iTunes storefront? Where is CNET's (Nasdaq: CNET ) MP3.com? The original MP3.com site was the most popular hangout for indies to get heard until the site shut down and CNET acquired the domain. It's heading in its predecessor's direction, but it's taking a long time to get back to where the other left off. Where is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) ? It has monetized hobbyist websites through AdSense and hobbyist writers through Knol, but there is still no ad-sharing product for musicians.
The time to strike is now. MySpace is vulnerable as the tour buses pump smoke into the streets. There goes the MySpace neighborhood, with nary a garage in sight.
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