MySpace will expand iLike beyond music

MySpace officially announced its acquisition of  music recommendation service iLike today, but said the platform and popular Facebook application will be expanded beyond music to other areas of the site, such as videos and gaming.

“We believe what iLike has created isn’t limited to just music, and should extend all of the areas important to MySpace users, such as entertainment, video and games,” chief executive Owen Van Natta said in a conference call.

As such, the acquisition is being made separately from MySpace Music, a joint streaming music venture between MySpace and Universal Music, Sony BMG and Warner. Van Natta said there are no current plans to marry the streaming experience to iLike’s method of recommending new music to listeners.

Van Natta painted in broad strokes during the press conference, making it difficult to answer most of the questions we raised yesterday. He didn’t explain, for instance, how iLike would be fused with the MySpace site, and there were no announcements on specific projects involving video and games. Van Natta did say the integration will focus on iLike’s discovery capabilities and that the acquisition will “take all of the great things that iLike has meant to users and extend all of the things that MySpace does and means to users within that user experience.”

Financial details of the acquisition also weren’t disclosed. Earlier rumors suggested the sale would be $20 million after employee retention costs, but Van Natta refused to answer questions on the matter. He denied the validity of a report by All Things Digital that tax issues delayed the deal. Notably, the entire iLike management team, along with the company’s 26 employees, will remain on board.

As for how the acquisition will impact Facebook, which has seen iLike ascend to become its default music application, Van Natta was also light on details. But his comments suggest that iLike will remain in its current form on other sites and even transform as the service grows. “Our expectation is that the social networks are going to be thrilled with the fact that we’re going to be making iLike an even richer experience within their environments,” he said.

Facebook also doesn’t seem worried about a disruption, sending us the following statement: “iLike was one of the first applications to be built on Facebook Platform and has become a success with more than 10 million users. We expect that users will continue to discover and share music through the iLike application on Facebook.”

The logical question for Facebook is whether it will follow MySpace’s lead and cultivate a music portal of its own. With its rival cornering the space, it would make sense for the social network to either groom a new music app to take iLike’s throne or acquire a similar service. Facebook wouldn’t reveal whether it is moving in this direction, though sources close to the matter say that because the digital music business comes with its share of thorny licensing and rights issues, it’s possible that the site would look to form a close partnership with a third-party that has expertise in the area.


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