As record companies scramble to explain drooping sales figures (and stop the bleeding), Universal Music Group has found a new culprit: MySpace. In an e-mail sent to her fans, Colbie Caillat, an artist essentially bred out of MySpace and onto a major label, told fans, "Hey everyone...bad news. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have to swap the songs out on my page for 90 second versions instead of full length versions. In fact some of the songs have already been swapped as I write this. Every artist signed to a Universal label has to comply immediately." Thanks to a growing number of Web sites that convert streaming MySpace tracks into downloadable MP3s, Universal Music apparently became worried and changed their policy regarding music on MySpace pages -- ie. the freebies stop here. According to Wired's Listening Post blog, the policy is actually a few months old, and affects all third-party sites unless the sites have a streaming contract with Universal. So who has complied so far (and who are the hold-outs)? We checked out MySpace pages belonging to other UMG artists.
At the OneRepublic MySpace page, the band's "Apologize" was still posted as a whole, however the song was now stamped with a deep voice stating "OneRepublic, Dreaming Out Loud, available November 20th" every thirty-odd seconds. The other two songs on the page were truncated ninety-second versions. Next, we went to Ghostface Killah's page, seeing if UMG had the stones to edit the songs on Ghostdini's page. We were greeted by a refurbished Ghostface page (it looks sharp!), however, UMG's scissors had already snipped the songs, with each track tailing off at a minute and a half. (As of typing this, while UMG had the nerve to chop the Ghostface tracks, the tracks on the Wu-Tang Clan page remain untouched, proving that Wu-Tang is, in fact, nuthing ta fuc' wit'.) Fall Out Boy, 50 Cent, Amy Winehouse -- all edited. While most artists we searched got the ninety-second buzzcut, apparently Interscope/Geffen Records, who operate under the UMG umbrella, didn't get the memo, with artists like Weezer, TV On the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs thus far remaining whole. That is, until the IT dude in charge of swapping out full songs for half ones clicks over to these pages. So far, only MySpace has felt the brunt of UMG's pain, with Facebook and even the artists' own sites streaming the songs in their entirety.
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