New details on MySpace's music play

News Corp. executives have proposed a music service that would offer downloads and streaming music, source say. What labels are still fuzzy on is how News Corp. plans to bankroll the site.

MySpace Music is the name News Corp. executives are tentatively using for a proposed music service that they are pitching to record executives, two sources told CNET News.com.

The news that News Corp., MySpace's parent company, has approached the four top music labels was first reported over the weekend by the blog PaidContent. Here are a few new details on what News Corp. is running past the music companies.

News Corp. has tested the record industry's interest in a site that would offer music in several different ways, including ad-supported downloads and streaming to PCs, according to a source with knowledge of the talks. This may be why PaidContent reported that News Corp. was proposing an ad-supported download service while the blog Silicon Alley Insider said the company was backing a streaming service.

News Corp. has also broached the idea of a streaming service that featured a prominent "Buy Now" button that allowed users to purchase songs off the site, another source said.

It's important to note that these are only talks. News Corp. appears, at this point, only to be taking the record industry's temperature, the sources said. Representatives from the labels declined to comment. A MySpace spokeswoman was unavailable for comment.

One of the hurdles that News Corp. must overcome before striking a deal that includes all of the big record companies is to make peace with Universal Music Group, which filed copyright infringement suit against MySpace in November 2006.

Sources confirmed PaidContent's report that News Corp. has offered an equity stake in the new company to all the labels. But what's unclear at this point, according to the sources, is whether News Corp. is going to fully fund the new venture itself.

One source said News Corp. told music executives that the goal for the start-up would be to eventually go public.

Clearly, this is a move by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to outflank Facebook in entertainment. The question now is what Facebook will do to counter this?

The labels already have streaming deals with social networks, Imeem and Last.fm. At this point, it doesn't look like anything could prevent Facebook from cutting a similar agreement with the labels.

 

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