MySpace Disables Auto-Play Of Profile Songs To Get Streaming Costs Under Control

MySpace Music, which launched a little less than a year ago, is the one bright spot of growth in an otherwise flatlining MySpace.

But all that popularity comes at a price – billions of free streaming songs are costing MySpace up to $10 million a month in streaming fees, says a source, and the joint venture may lose $20 million or more this year.

To minimize those losses, MySpace has made a big change to its product – songs no longer auto-play when you visit a MySpace user profile. Autoplays accounted for a billion or more song streams per month, and were costing MySpace a significant amount of money. Turning off that hose is a cost saving maneuver. This also has the benefit, sources say, of improving the user experience and providing labels with better listening data.

Personally, I’ve always disliked the autoplay feature on MySpace, although execs there tended to defend it as one of the distinguishing features of the service. Users can still opt-in to autoplay songs.

The product continues to improve (and the iLike acquisition should accelerate that improvement). Another key advantage MySpace Music has over competitors – their ability to lock up lots of exclusive content for users.

And the service is definitely growing. In July we reported that traffic grew tenfold over the nine months since launch: niques have grown 190% since launch in September 2008 and 1017%. It has grown 4.2 million unique monthly visitors to 12.1 million since launch. It is now solidly in the no. 2 position behind AOL Music, and growing fast.