News Corp Rethinks Private Equity Investment In MySpace Music; Too Complicated, Not Necessary

imageYou’re reading it here first … That Hulu-like private-equity set-up for the much-hyped MySpace Music isn’t on the front burner and may not ever happen, according to sources familiar with the situation. There are several reasons that boil down to this: News Corp (NYSE: NWS) and MySpace don’t see the need to try to do something as complicated as a full spin-off given the way MySpace Music has taken off in terms of downloads and advertising interest. This is not a case of market fright — private equity investment interest is there — but of the company deciding there’s no compelling reason to make the move at this point. As someone in the PE community told me, “They didn’t even shop it that hard.” Update: MySpace PR’s comment: no comment. Lots more in extended entry…

Linked completely to MySpace: The download delivery of 1 billion songs in the first week drove home something internally that seemed like a problem to some along: it’s too complicated to unwind MySpace Music from MySpace and could damage the potential for the music service to flourish. As one source put it, “you might be shooting yourself in the foot. We’re pretty happy with the way things have been working to get us to this launch; the idea we have to do things completely separately doesn’t seem to be as relevant.” The MySpace Music JV as currently set up with music labels as equity partners is a separate subsidiary within MySpace. Taking outside financing, which News Corp doesn’t really need at this point, would have required a separate company with new licensing agreements and a lot of other complications. One source compared it to trying to spin off *Yahoo* Sports: “What is it if not Yahoo?”

Hulu, a new operation, was much easier to set up as a completely separate JV with News Corp and *NBC Universal*, and then to bring in Providence Equity Partners and its $100 million investment. That created a $1 billion value for Hulu at a time when the venture needed the boost financially and in terms of being taken seriously as a standalone business. Providence was in the mix this time around, too.

Still, News Corp is keeping the option open, with a source stressing, “no decision has been made.”