“Social networks ‘lure music fans'” the BBC points out this week, in story that explains that music is very important to users of MySpace, Beebo and the like. This is, of course, a very old story, and the fact that someone called Entertainment Media Research put out a report this week doesn’t make it news.
A more relevant question: Since music is so important to social network users, what should the music industry do with that knowledge? As Billboard points out in this smart take, so far the labels have used the networks as a promotional device, but haven’t made any headway actually trying to sell music on the sites. The labels are eager to push for this as an alternative to Apple’s iTunes digital music monopoly, but the social networks themselves aren’t all that keen on the idea, as selling individual music tracks is a low-margin business.
“We’re not investing a ton of energy in that,” MySpace president Tom Andersen said last spring. “It’s not a big part of our business.” On Facebook, meanwhile, music is mostly an afterthought: While music personalisation service iLike is one of the network’s most popular apps, there’s little to do there except show off 30-second clips of your favourite songs.
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