Last week, the all-new Myspace finally opened up to the public after a few-month-long beta period. Its launch, coincidentally, occurred at the same time that investor and head celebrity backer Justin Timberlake launched the new single from his upcoming album. The song, "Suit & Tie," is displayed prominently on the homepage, leading some to joke that the new Myspace is merely an advertisement for its big star investor.
We think that the Timberlake jokes are a little dismissive of the revamped social network, which successfully combines free music streaming and discovery with the social layer. It definitely has its kinks and problems, but the new Myspace is an undeniable improvement over the service that has been wasting away for the past couple of years.
Impressive or not, the new Myspace is already running into some problems with its free streaming music. Apparently, one large agency is accusing the company of making tracks available that they no longer have the rights to.
According to the NY Times, Merlin Network claims that Myspace is currently streaming songs from over 100 independent labels under its wing, although their permission to do so expired over a year ago.
Merlin, a global right agency representing various independent labels like Sub Pop, Merge, and Domino, says that its deals negotiated with Myspace on the labels' behalf ended in 2011. But much of that music is still streaming to users worldwide.
“While it’s nice that Mr. Timberlake is launching his service on this platform, and acting as an advocate for the platform,” said Merlin's Charles Caldas. "On the other hand his peers as artists are being exploited without permission and not getting remuneration for it.”
Myspace has responded, saying that any remaining Merlin-represented artsits remain due to users uploading their music, and that they would cooperate in removing the "unlicensed" tracks per Merlin's request.
For a social network looking to rebrand itself and battle in a crowded market, the last thing they need is a rights battle.
For a look at the redesigned Myspace, check out our hands-on.