Even before its debut last month, MySpace's new music service drew fire from indies because they believe it gives a huge advantage to the big labels.

So when Amit Kapur, MySpace chief operating officer, wanted to respond to the criticism, it made sense for him to go before a crowd of independent artists and producers at the Digital Music Forum West conference in Hollywood.

"We are an artist-friendly site," Kapur said at the conference Oct. 3. "We want to provide the same access to promotion and business models to every artist."

MySpace launched its revamped MySpace Music on Sept. 24. Heralded by some analysts as a revolutionary way to deliver music online, the site allows access to hundreds of thousands of songs for streaming and other networking functions, such as ranking, sharing, recommendations and so on.

The twist? The site is jointly owned by all four major music labels EMI Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group giving MySpace access to their libraries and the labels a stake in the site's success by virtue of having their artists promoted there.

But at the conference, Kapur also made a point to highlight recent MySpace partnerships with indie labels such as Orchard Music Services, Red Music and Fontana Distribution. He promised other such deals were in the works.

It remains to be seen whether indie labels will be satisfied. Shortly after MySpace Music's debut, the American Association of Independent Music released a statement saying it was "disappointed" that MySpace "has not included independent music labels as equity participants as they have done with the major labels."

At the conference, Kapur also said that MySpace Music users had streamed 1 billion songs within a few days of the launch of its overhauled site.

Let's Dance

Did Activision Blizzard Inc. tip its hand on its next big game?

The Santa Monica-based video game developer and maker of the popular "Guitar Hero" franchise recently filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the term "Dance Hero."

The trademark application, filed Sept. 22, is for an "interactive video game comprised of a cartridge or DVD sold as a unit with a video game controller."

Filing a trademark application doesn't necessarily mean a video game is in development. An Activision spokesman declined to comment beyond saying, "We file lots of trademarks."

But it's easy to see why Activision would want to expand on "Guitar Hero," the video game series-turned-cultural phenomenon in which would-be musicians press buttons on a plastic guitar in sync with the notes of real rock songs.


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