In mid-August, MySpace switched off the “auto-play” feature on its musicians’ embedded audio players. The move was supposed to save MySpace money; every time one of those songs queued up, the company had to shell out royalty fees–as much as $10 million a month.
But in reducing auto-plays, MySpace also reduced one crucial measure of its traffic: the number of tracks played. That number tanked 20.7% from July to August, a drop from 1.43 billion plays to 1.13 billion plays, according to BigChampagne’s numbers. One of MySpace’s key brand differentiators is its musicians’ pages.
The #2 social network has been fighting to keep its music cred, however, by organizing real-life events like a “secret” Jay-Z concert in New York last Wednesday. According to Entertainment Weekly, the NYFD showed up to break up the party, but ended up staying to watch the show once they realized there was no imminent danger. (Photo above: Jay-Z in 2006, courtesy of I Am Guilty.)
The News Corp-owned site is also hoping that integration with Windows Live and Hotmail will help MySpace content bleed into its users’ other Internet tools and spur more enthusiasm for the site. MySpace has seen tepid growth of late, while Facebook rockets towards ever bigger gains.