April 3, 2008: 1:10 PM EDT
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MySpace takes on iTunes

Popular social networking site unveils new digital music play.

By Scott Moritz, writer


NEW YORK (Fortune) -- MySpace, the world's largest social networking site, is invading Apple's turf with an online music store backed by three record labels.

On Thursday the News Corp. (NWS, Fortune 500) unit unveiled MySpace Music, a joint venture with Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group (WMG).

The earnest marriage of MySpace's massive base of 30 million registered users is a bold attempt to tap the online music market, which Apple dominates through iTunes. Plenty of companies, including Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) and Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), have tried to break Apple's hold, with limited success.

MySpace, however, has one advantage over its would-be competitors: some 5 million artists already have MySpace pages where fans go to listen to songs and chat. The new site features a music player, music videos - and, as one would imagine from a social networking site, community pages like forums, classifieds and band tour information.

But it's unclear just how successful MySpace Music can be. Thursday's announcement was noticeably lacking in key details, including pricing. And unlike iTunes, the new MySpace music site doesn't actually sell songs yet. The company says that the "product will roll [out] iteratively in the coming months."

MySpace's move comes as Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) edged aside Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500) as the country's second-largest music store behind Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500). In January, iTunes briefly reigned No. 1, according to NPD Group. To top of page