MySpace Co-Presidents Talk About The Future And Each Other

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, Michael Arrington is sitting down with MySpace’s co-Presidents Jason Hirschhorn and Mike Jones to talk about the status of the evolving site and what it will look like in the future. My notes on the talk are below.

Mike: MySpace is in such a transformative stage it’s important for everyone to question it. We have 120 million unique visitors worldwide. US numbers have been fairly flat. Page views are down… substantially by design. MySpace used to have processes that took 10 page views that should have taken 1.

Arrington: Let’s talk about product. What is MS better at than anyone else?
Jason: Discovery. You go to meet people that are interested in the things you’re interested in. It’s about who you are through the things that you’re into. You till have basic social network functions.

Mike: When MySpace was a communication tool people may come back 30-40 times a month. We expect consumption mode for discovery to be less. Over 30% of audience comes in mobile. We expect mobile to continue growth. It’s a change in product, usage patterns, and way people actually use them.

Jason: Specially to the younger audience we focus on. Mobile is the focal point of their lives.

Arrington: How important is music to these goals?
Jason: It’s incredibly important. The pedigree of MySpace is around musicians. Fre streaming access from record labels. We’re building out all sorts of tools for musicians. Dashboards, presence management. It’s a big part of our brand. We are a very big social network.

Arrington: How much offer will you be able to offer music for fee?
Mike: We’re in consistent talks with labels. As of now we believe for a while. We’re creating a whole level of discovery around artists.
Arrington: Jon Miller has said that decision is still being made but if you do move away from free it will be this year.
Mike: At the end of the day it’s very much in the hands of the labels. MySpace allows this level of discovery. I think consumption is important.. I think it’s sustainable.
Arrington: Report is that you lose 10 million a month on music.
Hirshhorn: That’s not correct. The model works for us. At some point, we look at all different kinds of models. There will always bee free music on MySpace. Where we came from majority of music came from indie bands. Record labels control those rights. The Music experience isn’t predicated on just free streaming.

Mike: There’s two ways that I look at the music deal. We work with artists to monetize. We want to work with creative leads, express and monetize. Second, we pay for content. We pay to stream free music.

Arrington: In your view, you talk about turnaround. Is it possible to do that under any corporate parent let alone News Corp. Or do you think you’d be better as an independent entity.

Jason: Code advisors was not shopping for us. I’ve worked in a couple media corp. before and they had their issues. But News Corp has been so good to us. There hasn’t been anything we asked for that we said no to.. Because of Murdoch it truly is a small big company. He really is engaged. We don’t feel like they don’t get it if we went and asked for something. When people ask if we would spin out. What does that do for us?
Arrington: Provides incentive system because they can get stock options.
Mike: We’ve talked about that. We’re looking into it. I think there are other ways we can do that.
Jason: It’s a fair point. When you have that equity it is a shot at the dream.
Arrington: Co-president is a unique and interesting thing. Is it possible in the long term?
Jason: Normally it doesn’t work. Warner had co-pres. for 25 years. We had disagreements when we got there. It was never personal. You also have to get over ego, it’s for the betterment of the company. Am I going to be at MySpace in 5-10 years? Probably not, I’m an entrepreneur.
Arrington: How would you grade your performance?
Jason: I’d give myself a B+. In early days of MS the traffic grew fast so it wouldn’t go fast. They built something that would scale but made it hard to develop new things… MySpace always had a great functionality but the way they put it together… We’re going to take a look at changing the logo.