Digital Top Stories

MySpace Music chief quits

By | Published on Friday 25 February 2011


The boss of MySpace Music is leaving the building. An internal email to MySpace staff published by Billboard says that former MTV exec Courtney Holt will cease to hold an executive role at the flagging web firm, but will continue to advise both MySpace directly and its owners News Corp in a consultancy role. Some insiders say Holt is desperate to leave having become “miserable” in his current role. Which is understandable. I just imagined running MySpace Music for a few seconds and now I’m terribly depressed.

MySpace Music, which tried to build a music editorial service and Spotify-style streaming platform on the back of the artist pages section of the original MySpace site, was in effect an autonomous part of the business, both corporately and in the way it was originally presented to consumers.

Corporately because a separate company was set up to run the music service in which the major labels had an equity stake. And it was presented to consumers separately to distinguish the social networking part of the MySpace offer from the new music-focused service, possibly in a bid to re-engage with those consumers who had all but given up on the former but might still be interested in what the then new MySpace Music operation was offering.

Much of the early development of MySpace Music went ahead without an executive on board to run it, and when Holt was finally appointed it is thought he spent sometime undoing much of what had been set up before his arrival, delaying the global roll out of the new music proposition somewhat.

But even with Holt’s refinements, the MySpace Music service was typically clumsy and frustrating to use, and therefore struggled to compete with other better streaming services, especially in Europe where the likes of Spotify and We7 provide much more pleasurable experiences.

Then, of course, the main bit of MySpace started losing senior executives as owner News Corp started to stress about plummeting user figures and revenues, while those who remained revamped the whole site putting music and entertainment at its heart, making the distinction between MySpace and MySpace Music, as far as consumers were concerned, redundant.

Which in turn made some start to speculate as to exactly why MySpace Music needed its own chief. More so when the previously high profile Holt started to be eased out of press releases and public statements, with CEO Mike Jones stepping forward to speak. And it is thought disagreements with Jones over the strategic direction of the wider company has played a big part in Holt’s decision to quit. Jones will take over direct control of MySpace’s music operations after Holt’s departure, officially on an interim basis.

Of course, another reason for Holt’s departure is almost certainly the uncertain future of MySpace, which News Corp is now looking to offload. According to Reuters, News Corp will start considering bids for the dying digital service in the second week in March.