I've been evangelizing a free streamed all you can eat music service supported by advertising for as long as this blog has been around. And last night MySpace launched just that in partnership with the four major music labels and the large indie distributor Orchard. It's called MySpace Music.
As I am writing this, I am listening to music of my choice on streamed to me via MySpace. That's progress. I agree with Mike Arrington who wrote last night:
MySpace Music goes a long way towards music’s inevitable future where all recorded music will be free. They, along with services like iMeem, are now giving on demand streaming music at a zero price point to users, which was inconceivable even a couple of years ago.
But there's a lot that they need to do to get me to listen to music on MySpace instead of dozens of other locations on the web where I can get a similar experience.
The first thing about MySpace Music that turns me off is the start page. It's not really about music, it's like an entertainment website or something.
Compare that to my favorite free streaming music website, the Hype Machine:
The music is front and center at the Hype Machine. At MySpace Music, you have to search or click or browse to get to the music, unless you want to listen to the Jonas Brother's playlist, which I do not want to do. It would be so much better to land me on the "my music" page once I have one.
Creating a playlist is more difficult than it needs to be. They should take a look at some of the other playlist services out there to see how it's generally done on the web. To add a song to a playlist at MySpace Music, you need to search, then browse, then select, then click add, then pick a playlist, then save. They could cut three or four steps out of that process with a better user interface (copied from the competition no less).
The player is ok. I don't mind the advertising on the page. The player pops out and you can minimize and listen, which is what most players let you do. Here's a screen shot of the player with my Arthur Russell playlist in it.
If they had more data on Arthur Russell (it's remarkable they have anything on him actually), the artist update window would include all new activity on that artist's myspace page.
I wish MySpace Music were more social and this service comes from a social net. There's not a single social interaction on the music player that I could find. I should be able to share, add to my profile, send to a friend, etc, etc. I am sure that's coming but it's shocking that it's not there day one.
And for the life of me I could not figure out how to link to my Arthur Russell/Jens Lekman and Kings Of Leon playlists. Although they are public for anyone to listen to, I have no idea how anyone would ever find them. I could not even figure out how to add them to my MySpace profile. I spent about ten minutes this morning creating them and I'd like to share them with all of you. I guess not.
The bottom line for me is having all the music someone would want to listen to on demand is important, and MySpace Music has that. But the user interface and the social interactions are equally important, possibly more important. And in that regard they have a long way to go. I'm headed back to the Hype Machine, Last.fm, Tumblr and the other places on the web that allow me to listen to streamed music the way I want to. But I'll be back from time to time to see how MySpace Music improves as I am sure it will.
Read more by Fred Wilson by visiting his blog.