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Summary:

Monday, we published paidContent:UK Editor Robert Andrews’ interview with MySpace SVP Jamie Kantrowitz about rising competition from Faceboo…

Monday, we published paidContent:UK Editor Robert Andrews’ interview with MySpace SVP Jamie Kantrowitz about rising competition from Facebook. Today, another chapter on the subject via VentureBeat’s quick study of how the News Corp. social net stacked up against the popular Facebook application iLike, looking at which one offers bands wider exposure to fans. Surprisingly, for many bands, iLike is proving to be a bigger platform than MySpace itself, when you compare the number of users either putting a band in their iLike player or friending them on MySpace. The sample size was small, and it could be debated whether the two things are even equivalents. Still, it’s a testament to Facebook’s growth that this one application is proving to be so big in its own.

Kantrowitz argued that MySpace’s strength lies in the fact that it is a platform for self expression and individual identity, as opposed to Facebook, which is more about networking. However, through iLike and other apps, Facebook may be gaining ground in this regard. The flipside is that for iLike itself, it’s completely at the whim of Facebook. It’s riding its coattails right now, but if Facebook were to lose ground to the next big thing, where would that leave iLike? Or, if Facebook shifted policies again. For better or worse, other social music services, like Pandora and Last.FM, haven’t hitched their wagons to specific social networking sites, leaving them more flexibility to adapt to the times.

For musicians, all of these competing viral marketing engines are great, but as singer/songwriter Jill Sobule pointed out in a call for help at All Thinds D, there’s still a big gap out there for nuts-and-bolts stuff, like financing albums and getting artists paid.

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  1. Playlouder – a UK broadband ISP – is bridging the gap between social network celebrity and being able to support a professional career by putting the connectivity into a business model which pays musicians. The service is currently in beta, and is designed hopefully to enhance the value of the music that flows around the networks (data and social) rather than force an effective price of zero.

  2. Joseph, you said the iLike counts are based on the "number of users putting a band in their iLike player." Just to clarify, the numbers we gave VentureBeat only counted people who have *explicitly* added artists on their iLike/Facebook profiles (like "friending" an artist on Myspace, except instead of clicking on "Add friend," you click on "iLike this artist")

    The comparison is not perfect, but it's much more relevant than you implied.

    In the future, we will also count fans who more passively enjoy an artist, e.g. by playing their music on their iPod/iTunes… That will boost our numbers significantly, and then it may not be an equivalent comparison.

    We’ve only just begun looking at these numbers, and we don’t wanna get too excited yet. After all, VentureBeat's post was only based on a sample size of 11. iLike on Facebook is still only a few months old, and we still have a lot to learn.

    Regards,
    Ali Partovi
    CEO, iLike

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