Wednesday, March 21, 2007

MySpace pisses off its biggest star

Wanna be an internet sensation? Ok here's one way; jump on the MySpace bandwagon before it becomes one. Put a buncha half nekkid pics on your page. Befriend anyone and everyone. Start getting press for being MySpace's 'first star'. Ride the whole MySpace/YouTube/CGM media wave. Get up to 1.7 million MySpace friends. Then use those friends to jumpstart your music career by adding a widget to your MySpace page that lets your millions of friends listen to and buy your music...

Whups, not so fast says MySpace. It seems that Tom and the gang are putting Tila Tequila in timeout for adding the Hoooka widget to her page that would have allowed MySpace users to sample and buy her music. The MySpace gang yanked the player, created by Los Angeles starup Indie911, on Sunday.

So of course, Tila turned to her MySpace blog to vent her frustrations:
The reason why I am so bummed out about MySpace now is because recently they have been cutting down our freedom and taking away our rights slowly. MySpace will now only allow you to use ‘MySpace’ things.

At least she did according to the New York Times, which quoted Tequila in its article as having posted the above to her MySpace blog over the weekend, but I couldn't find any such postings on her blog. Maybe MySpace deleted it (oooohhhhh more controversy!), maybe TT deleted it, or maybe I am an idiot that can't read. Any of the above is equally possible.

But I think the bigger issue here is, MySpace's insistence on blocking user-added widgets. No doubt MySpace's partnership with SnoCap is playing into the blockage of Hoooka, but recall that MySpace has already gone after YouTube embedded videos in the past as well.

As widgets become more popular, MySpace is going to have to decide what's more important; letting users continue to create and enjoy their own experience, or attempting to dictate what that experience can be, and then monetizing the result.

Fred Wilson, a VC that invests in social media companies, had a great quote in the NYTimes article:
Every attempt everyone has ever made to try to dictate what a person’s Internet experience will be has ended up coming up empty. You have to accept the fact that you are never going to be the be-all and end-all of everyone’s experience. They are one click away from everyone else on the Web.

Will MySpace figure this out before midnight strikes? Rupert, you are now on the clock.

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darmik said...

I m glad that the Myspace love fest has ended. Artist, fans, and consumers of content must know and understand that any revenue generated for Myspace (A Newscorp company) is going to continue to fund the operations of fox news ( as well as the continued dismantling of independent media around the world. If as an artist or a fan or a user of the Internet you support any social issues or an independent and free media then myspace is not the place to become a member. By doing this you give them continued revenue and power.

I m not surprised that Myspace is doing this it was only a matter of time before wolf in sheeps clothing was revealed.

I have started a digital ecommerce company ( that gives artist the ability to sell thier content on any webpage or social network. Darmik also gives the artist the ability to allow their fans to resell their content for them. Darmik also gives content owners the option of giving a portion of their revenue to a charity or non profit.

If you dont want to sell on myspace you can sell on and Darmik always give a portion of their revenue to charity.

David Reich said...

A couple of points here...

I must admit, when you referred to half nekkid pix, I clicked the link right away. I'm not a prude, although I'll now sound like one. This music is being aimed at teens, and I really wonder how appropriate it is to have a video with this girl wriggling in suggestive ways that, years ago, you would have seen only in the peep show stores on 42nd Street. I know it's how Mariah Carey made her mark, although she, at least, could sing. This girl's music is trash, but I know it's not aimed at me and my boomer friends.

That said, I initially thought, why shouldn't MySpace restrict use of gadgets that compete with what they're offering? But then I re-read your post and the quote from the VC rings true. People now have other places to go, so as large as MySpace is, it's no longer the only game in town. And more people will start going to their competition if they continue trying to force users to do it only the MySpace way.

I still have to shake my head, though. With so much good music -- real music -- out there, how is this crap selling so well? I fear we've raised a generation that is tone deaf and has no real musical awareness. A good friend of mine, who is Dean of Jazz at a major music college here in NY and has been named Jazz Educator of the Year a few times, told me recently that when the government took funding for the arts away from the schools years ago, young people lost out on music education, music history, music appreciation. Rap and hip-hop, which he acknowledges as forms of expression, have no musical basis other than a beat. It's sad, and it's what brings us to music like what we're hearing from the likes of Tila Tequila.

David Reich said...

Don't mean to go on about this, from my previous comment, but...

This item I just saw reported by The Associated Press on March 1st gives me some hope.

"Though music sales are down overall, rap sales slid a whopping 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, and for the first time in 12 years no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year. A recent study by the Black Youth Project showed a majority of youth think rap has too many violent images. In a poll of black Americans by The Associated Press and AOL-Black Voices last year, 50 percent of respondents said hip-hop was a negative force in American society."

Maybe, slowly, people are coming to their senses.

Mack Collier said...

MySpace has every right to restict third-party widgets and either create or license their own. But I'm of the opinion that ANYTHING you do to control the behavior of an online community, deadens user enthusiasm for that community. So MySpace has to balance the money they'll make from licensing widgets, with the revenue lost from users either spending less time on the site, or leaving altogether.

Jordan said...

What a brilliant way to drive away your loyal community members! Kill the Queen!

Tsk tsk, MySpace. If you need me, I'll be on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I think I read somewhere else that Tila did delete the blog post, but I've been trying to tell the bands and musicians we work with all along that MySpace isn't the end-all, be-all and yet many choose MySpace over an actual website for their official internet presence.

This is an article, however, that I've been forwarding to everyone, telling them that now would be a good time to establish their own place on the internet, rather than rely on someone else's!


J.D. said...

I've had my own widgets up on my Myspace profile for a while now with no problems. I have a YouTube video, and I have a Switchpod player. I wonder if it's different if you're a "music" profile versus just a regular joe profile.

It's too bad Myspace isn't what it was meant to be anymore. That's what happens when big corporations see dollar signs, buy out the site, and then run the thing straight into the ground. (See also "YouTube") I cringe every time I see the creators of these sites sell to a corporate buyer, not because I'm mad at them for cashing in, but because you just know that that is the focal point at which the site is going to start losing cool dramatically

Mack Collier said...

JD my guess is they blocked the Hoooka widget on Tila's page because she's so visible, and MySpace was afraid that the other indie artists would see her using it, and add Hoooka instead of their partner SnoCap. Apparently MySpace didn't block Hoooka on the entire site, just on Tila's page. They probably figure that if they block it from everyone, that would cause a bigger stink, so just block it on the more popular pages.

Either way, it's a sign of MySpace swirling down the toilet. When you start dictating the experience of your community, it's only a matter of time till they leave.

lolly said...

I have just had a great idea. Maybe we should tell Tila Tequila to switch to and get all her friends to follow her? no? ;)