Amid some harsh criticism there is actually a case to be made in favor of MySpace's acquisition of iLike, the "social music discovery service." No, iLike won't make MySpace high culture, but the purchase could benefit even small players in the music industry.
It's no secret that music is hurting. And not just the ears of people who, like me, are above "a certain age." Still, cruising over to iLike was quite a discovery. This is a nice service. While I may not like many of the artists and the tunes, I like iLike quite a bit.
iLike helps people, music, and musicians find one another. It helps artists who aren't at the top of the pops find an audience. That's a cool thing to be doing. Why a high-concept site like iLike wants to hitch its wagon to MySpace's falling star is hard to explain.
Perhaps, the VC were demanding a real exit strategy and some cash?
If MySpace can create a tighter bond between its service--ugly and low-concept thought it may be--and iLike both could benefit. Other winners would be users and the music business, by which I especially mean artists-as-entrepreneurs.
It's probably worth mentioning that iLike thought so much of MySpace that the service wasn't even mentioned in the "About iLike" text on its site. Here's where the mention might have been:
"iLike offers musicians and labels a Universal Artist Dashboard from which to reach fans and manage their presence across multiple channels: Facebook, Orkut, hi5, Bebo, iLike.com, Ask.com, iLike Sidebar plugins for iTunes and Windows Media Player, and iLike’s iPhone application."
Sure, there is a MySpace logo elsewhere on the page, appearing after Facebook and between Orkut and hi5. But, would you want to be purchased by a company you were so publicly dismissive of? (I suppose the page might have been changed post-purchase but really, really doubt it).
If I were MySpace I'd be miffed, since iLike is, in fact, quite popular on the service.
Facebook says it expects iLike will continue to be available to its users. There will, of course, be some knee-jerk reaction that this must be part of a sinister plan to buy small companies with a Facebook presence and then shut off Facebook, hoping users will then move to MySpace.
Here's my idea: MySpace should buy all the successful Facebook apps it can figure out how to monetize and leave them on Facebook. That will allow MySpace to parasitize Facebook while it figures out what to do with MySpace itself.
For MySpace's sake, I am glad they purchased a winner, but have to wonder what iLike was thinking when it accepted the offer. A well-run MySpace might be a good home for iLike, but MySpace isn't healthy.
Still, if MySpace is to mend, it has to start someplace and iLike, as I said, is a good place. If I were iLike, I'd have waited until Facebook came a-calling.