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MySpace blasts out new music features

CEO Owen Van Natta announces an "artist dashboard," a music video library, and integration with iTunes at the Web 2.0 Summit conference.

SAN FRANCISCO--He's not kidding about making changes.

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta took the stage at the Web 2.0 Summit event on Wednesday and paraded out a whole slew of announcements related to turning the flagging social network into a music and media powerhouse. He showed off a massive catalog of music videos--coming from all the partners in the MySpace Music joint venture--and an enhanced set of tools for bands using the site as a marketing and promotional hub. Plus, the MySpace Music service now syncs up with Apple's iTunes, not just Amazon MP3.

It was former Facebook exec Van Natta's first big public appearance since becoming CEO of the News Corp.-owned MySpace in April.

The "artist dashboard" for MySpace Music is a free product that offers a suite of analytics for bands and artists that operate MySpace profiles so that they can get details on who's listening and interacting with them within the MySpace community. It's also baked in features from iLike, the music service that MySpace acquired this summer. iLike operates social apps on a variety of platforms, including Facebook, and artists using MySpace can now access that data too.

"We're giving people things like geographic breakdowns, where exactly their friends are not just in the U.S. but in the world," Van Natta explained. "This is literally getting pushed live as I'm sitting here talking to you."

For the fans, there's the music video portal, which started rolling out on Wednesday, offering the entire catalog of music videos from all the labels that offer their music on the MySpace Music streaming service. It'll compete with Vevo, the Universal Music Group-founded music video hub that features YouTube-created technology and investment backing from Abu Dhabi oil money. But it sounds like Universal's music videos will be on MySpace, too.

CNET News reported earlier this month that MySpace was working with video hub Hulu--in which News Corp. is a stakeholder--to launch a new video service. It's unclear whether there is any connection to the new music video hub.

MySpace launched the MySpace Music operation last year and hired former MTV executive Courtney Holt to head it up. But things haven't been altogether sunny. Earlier this year, word got out that the major labels who've put a stake in MySpace Music were dissatisfied with its performance.

Plus, earlier on Wednesday, it came to light that rival Facebook was making its first big move in the music space. The massive social network announced a partnership with music service Lala as part of its revamped virtual gifts marketplace, allowing members to buy songs for one another.

Van Natta shrugged off concerns that MySpace, with a significant portion of its traffic eaten away by Facebook's rocketing growth, is having trouble pulling in advertising revenues.

"We're really good at monetization," he assured the audience. "There's a lot of different avenues that we can take."

This post was expanded at 4:54 p.m. PT.