MySpace, the social networking site where people create home pages and embellish them as they would a dormitory room, plans today to start selling songs and trying to position itself as a destination for hearing and buying new music.
In a program called Transmissions, MySpace is inviting musicians to choose a studio venue and select the songs they want to perform. MySpace will show and sell videos of the performance.
It could be perceived as an Internet variation of the popular series "MTV Unplugged," but with a revenue stream built in. When musicians participate in the MTV series, their work is sometimes released as albums months or years later. On MySpace, the work will be available immediately.
"If I like what I see, I can take it with me," said Josh Brooks, vice president for programming and content of MySpace.
For years MySpace, now owned by the News Corp., has served as a promotional platform for artists and labels, primarily through the MySpace Music portion of the website. Now the company wants to provide a sales component. Unlike Apple Computer's iTunes music store, which charges a flat rate of 99 cents a song, MySpace will let distributors set their prices.
James Blunt, a singer-songwriter whose signature hit is "You're Beautiful," will be the first artist to participate in Transmissions, introducing five songs, including a new single, on the site today. Blunt said he appreciated the flexibility offered by the Transmissions format.
"Through MySpace, I can get songs heard that are any length I choose, that are any format I choose,' he said.