MySpace Buys iLike – Not a Good Sign

In a disappointing sign for the online music business, iLike is being bought by MySpace which will fold it into its various music services. Although there is no “taste/recommendation” aspect to MySpace, I don’t anticipate it will improve the experience much, and therefore will not add to its value as a business. An expected propriety war between Facebook and MySpace over the service will probably mean users on Facebook will eventually lose it.

Something as interesting as iLike should have been able to stand on its own, especially with Ticketmaster as an investor. iLike provides a quick way to reach fans of a certain artist and provide tour information, that should have been enough “synergy” to make it profitable with emails that announce shows to people who opt in to those artists.

My impression is that MySpace is a place of music discovery, but not for knowledgeable or “tasteful” music fans. It is geared toward people in their late-teens/early twenties judging by the bands they promote. As far as independent artists, there is probably no undiscovered Muddy Waters on MySpace waiting for Alan Lomax to find (and befriend) him. Instead, all the sub-par artists who sign up are “in your face,” along with ads that make it look cheap (like an online New York Post?).

Rock critics actually serve a purpose: good ones have historical knowledge and some opinion on the quality of songwriting, the basis for popular music. Look back at the music of your youth before your taste was “developed” and you’re bound to find some embarrassment.

A few years ago, I was very excited to install iLike, as it promised to document the music people listened to on iTunes, feed it on to the net and spit back “friends” with similar taste who could then share recommendations, etc. I made friends with a girl from Finland named Maluca who liked Warrior Soul — now that’s an important function — how far you have to travel to find another fan of a bad band is a process assisted by iLike.

There aren’t many artists who are great that aren’t popular, and one of the benefits of MySpace and other net outlets is they give exposure “outside the system” of the music business. Ida Maria, Ingrid Michaelson and Coby Caillait (sp?) are just a few savvy web marketers who happen to play music too. As I have said over and over, the Stones hired Bill Wyman because he had a big amp. Today, they would hire someone who knew how to blog. If Nirvana were starting up now, would it be on MySpace or on their own page? IHateMyselfandWanttoDie.net sounds much better without “MySpace.com/” before it.

But back to iLike. Since I have such excellent taste in music, and spend so much time listening on iTunes, the document it created would have to be impressive. I listen randomly, but I think these stats are interesting. Someone once commented that all my most played artists are great, but that might be true for a lot of people.

John Rosenfelder’s Top Fifteen Most Played Artists (since 2006, according to my iLike profile):

* The Beatles 2,381
* Willie Nelson 2,240
* Bob Dylan (on tour) 1,867
* The Rolling Stones 1,551
* Yes (on tour) 1,370
* Bruce Springsteen (on tour) 1,250
* Muddy Waters 1,232
* The Who 1,179
* Paul McCartney 1,119
* Miles Davis 1,119
* Bob Marley & The Wailers 1,068
* Brian Eno (on tour) 1,027
* Neil Young 975
* Grateful Dead 972
* The Clash 946
* Sonic Youth (on tour) 932

If you want to know the real deal on the financials and personalities behind the deal, I recommend the TechCrunch article “MySpace Confirms iLike Acquisition” which examines iLike’s business relationships, Kara Swisher’s “Boomtown” column (8/17) detailing the financial/executive history of iLike and today’s article “After Determined Decade, iLike Befriends MySpace.”

The aforementioned Hypebot article “What MySpace Buying iLike Means for Musicians” doesn’t say much and does it with bad mistakes. If they can’t spell, how could they possibly interpret this story?

And don’t I have good taste?

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