MySpace: No Plans To Charge For Music Streams, Mobile Is Audience Driver

MySpace Music

After some good-natured tangling with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, the site’s founder Michael Arrington laid into MySpace (NYSE: NWS) co-presidents Jason Hirschorn and Mike Jones. After (pretending?) to check a call on his cell phone, Arrington began his inquiry by asking pointedly, “So how come you’ve lost 25 million users since you started your reign?”

The co-presidents dodged that one fairly well. Mike Jones explained that one-third of the News Corp. social net’s users come from mobile, which doesn’t show up in the comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) numbers.

Arrington then dug the knife in a bit deeper: “Your music business is losing $10 million per month—is that working for you?” Again, Hirschorn and Jones continued amiably, explaining that they’re driving revenues and music sales from their free streaming. Asked if how long they can keep that service running without charging users, Jones said that the company has no plans to slap a subscription fee on music listening across MySpace. But ultimately, that depends on the labels. “We’re constantly talking to the record labels,” Jones said. “And so that could change. Right now, we’re a valuable music discovery service for them.”

The MySpace duo was also took the opportunity to take aim some rumors surrounding the unit’s plans. Hirschorn told Arrington that “We didn’t hire [Quincy Smith’s] Code Advisors,” adding that they only have informal discussions on what MySpace should look at in terms of acquisition targets.

In the end, Arrington admitted that he was a little tough on Hirschorn and Jones, offering a group hug—but only off-stage.


Gaikai Raises $10 Million For PC Games In The Browser

Gaikai Logo

Gaikai, a startup that promises to let users play PC-based games in their web browsers, has raised another $10 million-plus. Gaikai installs the games—which would typically require a DVD-install—on its own servers and then lets subscribers “stream” the game on the web. For now, the technology is in an invite-only beta but Gaikai says in the release announcing the funding that it will be launching its service “soon.”

Venturebeat—which first reported the funding—says the company plans to make money in part by powering browser-based demos for game publishers that want an easy way to provide online game shoppers with a sense of what a PC game is like.

Gaikai had raised $5 million in a first round of funding led by Benchmark Capital in January. The new funding comes from Benchmark, as well as TriplePoint Capital, Rustic Canyon Partners and an unnamed partner.


The “Lost” Endings You Didn’t See

If you’re one of the ones who stuck with “Lost” for six whole seasons, then last night’s finale was kinda sorta what you expected, right?

Here are some other options, via Jimmy Kimmel’s post-finale special. A little disappointing that there’s no Bobby Ewing dream season reference here, but whatever. And if the YouTube link here goes dead, let me know and I’ll try to find you another one.

Viacom-Google Unsealed: McGrath: ‘This Could Be Our MySpace’

Judy McGrath, CEO, MTV Networks

Another batch of filings and unsealed documents today in the Viacom (NYSE: VIA) lawsuit against Google/YouTube and another rollicking trip down memory lane. One favorite: a batch of memos between MTV Networks head Judy McGrath and former execs Michael Wolf and Blair Harrison in July 2006 about buying the hot video portal.

McGrath to Wolf: “I think this could be our MySpace (NYSE: NWS). Only bigger and better because it’s video…” Harrison, described by McGrath as having “trashed” YouTube before, tells her after being asked whether MTVN should buy it: “Today… I think we should put a squad of four people in a room for a day, and figure out if we can make a business out of it. Assuming we can, we should go and buy it.” His only doubt? “Whether it can navigate the waters of monetizing its stuff vs. the illegality of that stuff and do it quickly enough to prevail.” (His full memo below.)

The internal acquisition talks were the subject of a number of these exhibits. Following that exchange, intense discussions started about whether or not a business model could be found for YouTube within MTVN—including a PowerPoint deck released in March.  In an e-mail exchange a couple of weeks later, Robert Bakish told Jason Witt: “We haven’t given up but I give it less than one tenth of a percent chance. Wade will have the conversation but it seems unlikely to yield anything. Apparently sequoia thinks they have another Google (NSDQ: GOOG) on their hands and they want to ride it. Or so I’m told.” Witt replies: “they are right. it’s THE VIRTUAL MSO.” Bakish: ‘In a weird way, it might be more than that.”

Another fave has nothing to do Viacom: an August 2007 dialogue at Google following a query from Warner Music about how why their official videos come up below other versions in You Tube search results and how they can improve that. Shashi Seth, then head of monetization for YouTube/Google, explains that the “onebox” can single out material without changing the search results: “We should never be in the business of changing our search algorithms to favor content based on who the owner is. In search the same requests come to us from NY Times and Wall Street Joumal - who claim that their content should always be placed higher than anybody else.”


YouTube, Viacom Still Calling Each Other (Naughty) Names

Viacom and YouTube released another set of documents in their long-running legal battle today. If you were bored by the last two data dumps, you’ll be positively stupefied by today’s data.

The gist: The two sides continue to make the same arguments they’ve made in the past. Viacom (VIA) says Google’s (GOOG) video site intentionally violated its copyrights. And YouTube says it is protected by federal law and that Viacom didn’t care about copyright violations until business negotiations broke down.

Don’t believe me? Feel free to check it out for yourself: The two sides have helpfully arranged most of their documents here and here. It’s cheaper than Ambien.

Or you can just enjoy this representative excerpt from YouTube’s filing, in which it argues that the court shouldn’t read anything into the fact that its employees referred to Viacom as “copyright bastards” and “a-holes” during chat sessions (click to enlarge the text, in all its PG-13 glory):

Have a great weekend!

paidContent Quick Hits 5.21.10

»  Philadelphia Newspapers’ Brian Tierney is relinquishing his office and CEO role today in advance of surrendering the company to its new owners later this summer. [Philadelphia Business Today]

»  Spain’s physical music sales are so bad—or perhaps, its taxes are so high—that levies on blank CDs/DVDs has outstripped royalties tied to actual recordings. [BillboardBiz]

»  Aegis Media has restructured digital marketing services unit Isobar into an “agency network,” which is designed to meet clients’ demands for greater global integration among the company’s various parts. [Mediapost]

»  Worried about the privacy disclosures on Facebook’s and MySpace? (NYSE: NWS) Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis is following up What Would Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Do? with a nuanced view on the “current privacy mania.” [Buzzmachine]

»   Did LimeWire’s attorney suggest that the file-sharing service destroy evidence in its legal battle with the record industry? The debate is now and a decision could come June 7. [Cnet]

If you happen to go to Google’s main search page, you’ll see a PacMan screen in place of the search giant’s name. It’s in honor of the game’s 30th anniversary. If you have some time, click the “Insert Coin” button on the right and see what happens (Hint: keep your fingers on your). [Google Help Forum]

Nike’s Not-So-Secret World Cup Ads Go Viral Before They Launch

The World Cup starts next month. So where’s the blitz of Nike (NKE) ads that always accompanies the globe’s biggest sporting event?

Funny you should ask. Nike will formally start pushing out its new ads tomorrow on TV, Facebook and Google’s (GOOG) YouTube. But the marketer gave the campaign a small push early this week, which is all it took. People are lapping this stuff up.

This three-minute spot, for instance, is on an “unlisted” YouTube page, which means it’s theoretically “private”–it won’t show up in YouTube search results or its homepage, and you can only get to it via a link (I got there via AdWeek’s Brian Morrissey). But it has already racked up some 400,000 views. That number will start getting really, really big tomorrow.

No idea who any of these people are? No worries. There’s a partial explication, via Nike press release, below.

The story starts when the viewer is drawn into the heat of battle on the pitch as a ball drops from the air into the path of Didier Drogba. As the world holds its collective breath, Drogba picks his way through sliding defenders and expertly chips the goalkeeper – wild celebrations commence across Africa. But they are curtailed at the last second as Fabio Cannavaro makes a stunning overhead goal line clearance. This game-changing moment propels Cannavaro to pop culture icon complete with television chat show appearances and a song dedicated to his moment of brilliance.

Other global football stars including Wayne Rooney experience how a moment on the pitch can last forever. In one scene, the England striker sees an intercepted pass picked up by midfielder Franck Ribery. The ensuing impact brings a nation to its knees and leaves us to imagine Rooney’s destroyed career and his life as a groundsman, living in a caravan, with Ribery’s image looming large above him on a giant billboard. Fast forward, and Rooney relives the moment, sprints after Ribery and wins the ball back. Personal and national pride restored, we see him receiving a knighthood, with headline-grabbing plaudits, a maternity room full of little Waynes and an effortless table-tennis defeat of Roger Federer. The Rooney ripple effect comes full circle.

Similarly, Cristiano Ronaldo is fouled in a game, and as he prepares to take a vital free-kick for Portugal, we flash forward to see the ripple effect if he scores; a stadium named in his honour and a Film Premiere for a movie of his life.