MySpace: “You Can’t Trust Anyone These Days”; Faces Possible Antitrust Action From Indie Labels Over New Online Music Store

News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s collective of youth-oriented media outlets (such as the small, secular-based cable access Fox News Channel and the GLBT magazine The Weekly Standard), has plans for an online music store. The nondescript store named MySpace Music hasn’t launched yet, but it promises to open up the company’s liberal portfolio of holdings like The Wall Street Journal and The Times to a more conservative audience.

According to The Register, MySpace Music will offer downloads, concert tickets, ringtones, and more, all packaged in what “MySpace insiders want to become the ‘internet's MTV.’” MTV is well known for its reactionary commentary and its fiscally conservative news on the global financial markets. It is a bold move and, in this writer’s opinion, quite refreshing to see the socially conscious and independent-focused grassroots News Corp reach out and co-opt the conservative culture to rebrand and repackage it with demographic-specific ads.

News Corp’s subversive new store is set to give right-wingers the content they want, while distancing the liberal name of the company as it makes money. Let’s just hope the emerging community (read: joint venture) of the world’s biggest media owner and the world’s three biggest major record labels (no EMI just yet*) can foster something unfettered by those big corporate giants out to screw the little guy.

But, that’s exactly what is happening.

Apparently, MySpace Music is coming under scrutiny for blocking independent labels from uploading music to the store. While News Corp is just trying to get upstarts like Sony BMG and Warner Music Group in stores (truthfully, Murdoch doesn’t care about money; he just wants the music to be heard), the collective is facing possible antitrust violations. There’s an issue of territorial rights and the way songs are uploaded, “but the broader concern is that MySpace Music is a party to which the independents haven't been invited -- an arrangement which strengthens the major labels' dwindling control over music distribution in a digital era.”

MySpace Music is a real spitfire, and it isn’t going down without a fight. A spokesperson had this to say in response to the antitrust talk:

We are not aware of any antitrust complaint or inquiry pending against either MySpace or MySpace Music. MySpace Music welcomes indie artists and is not blocking content from them or other labels. Our goal is to provide the indie community with powerful tools and monetization channels to enable them to access revenue streams previously unavailable.

Crisis averted, for now. Support News Corp’s grassroots effort and donate whatever you can at newscorp.com.

*MySpace Music debuted unexpectedly Wednesday night after EMI signed on.

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