@ Midem: MySpace Eyes Virtual Goods, Will Help Pay Musicians $15 Million

The social gaming phenomenon may be commonly associated with Facebook – but MySpace seems keen to get its own slice of this growing pie.

Asked at the Midem music conference in Cannes whether the site may consider a move in the area, MySpace CEO Owen van Natta, also former COO at Facebook, said: “Absolutely. The areas we’re really focused on are music, entertainment (TV and film) and games.

“Games is a very interesting space, it’s been big in the news lately, there’s been a lot of interesting growth amongst these highly viral apps… As we talk to our developers, we get a lot of feedback that says we have an audience that is more willing to spend on virtual goods and other things you purchase inside the social games than other platforms are able to.”

It has been touting its supposed reinvention for a while now, ever since the new exec team was put into place, so these are what they are: more words.

SoundExchange deal: Meanwhile, MySpace is partnering with U.S. music royalty collector SoundExchange to return up to $15 million to artists, van Natta announced on stage. SoundExchange has placed in to escrow $15 million it has collected for online plays and is owed to artists it cannot identify, van Natta said. “We’ve already identified 25,000 artists who they simply have not been able to connect with. We’re going to use the MySpace platform to make the connection and get the money in to the hands of the rightful owners.”

What does Murdoch want from MySpace: “What I talked about with Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp (NYSE: NWS) management was … if you think about how content is distributed and look and at how the social web is evolving … the future of content distribution is going to be through people, not through portals. Having a social graph where we have connections between people – that gives us the opportunity to build a next-generation content distribution platform which, for the largest media company on the planet, is a great strategic asset.”

Rebranding iLike and Integrating Imeem The value MySpace saw in acquiring the site: “we think that people should be able to use their content when and where they want it”: “(iLike is) the largest app platform across all the social networks in the music space. (The ability to) take that in to these other environments is one of the assets that we got” (this raising the prospect of pushing MySpace out through platforms on which iLike – like Facebook?). “You’re always looking at branding, and we want users to not be confused about things.” On music in general: “One of the things we’ve never disclosed is, we’ve got over 180 million playlists created by users on MySpace Music, the separately owned JV.” MySpace last week completed migrating all of Imeem’s playlists to MySpace Music.