MySpace Snaps Up Social Music Play iLike

MySpace said this afternoon that it has reached an agreement to acquire iLike, a popular music recommendation service with a footprint across the social Web.

Founded in 2006, iLike bills itself as “the Web’s leading social music discovery service,” boasting more than 50 million users. It’s also the most popular music app on several popular social destinations, including MySpace’s chief rival Facebook.

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta said he plans to integrate iLike’s recommendation engine across the social network’s entertainment properties, bringing the serendipity of discovery to videos, games and other forms of content, in addition to music.

“iLike is not a music-specific thing,” Van Natta told reporters on a conference call this afternoon. “We think it has leverage across all the categories.”

MySpace, a division of News Corp., has staked much of its future plans around its music community, where bands have profile pages and users can stream music, watch videos and find information about upcoming concerts.

But whereas iLike brings together users from a litany of sites around the social Web through its Universal Artist Dashboard, MySpace Music is essentially a self-contained community.

“By combining these two models, we’re delivering on the experience that users demand,” Van Natta said. “The thrust behind this marriage really has to do with the distributed Web and how it is that we can serve our users in a more distributed way.”

Today’s call marked Van Natta’s first public comments since taking the reins at MySpace in April.

“In that time we’ve restructured the MySpace business, we’ve refocused the company product and strategy, and we’ve hired some great people,” he said.

The company has also let go several hundred workers as it has moved to consolidate its operations in the United States and abroad.

Van Natta said iLike would continue to operate as an autonomous entity, based in Seattle, for the foreseeable future.

“First and foremost, we want to make sure we don’t disrupt any of the great thinks that iLike is doing,” Van Natta said. “In the short term users should expect the iLike experience to be unaffected by the acquisition.”

He called iLike’s management and engineering team “world class,” adding that “finding ways that we can leverage that talent more broadly across MySpace will absolutely be one of the objectives that we pursue going forward.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the sale price has been rumored to be around $20 million.

While Van Natta emphasized, in the short term, his intention to leave iLike on its current course as the companies move to integrate, he acknowledged that the firm is an “important part of a lot of social networks’ experience,” including many, such as Facebook, that are in direct competition with MySpace.

Perhaps somewhat hopefully, he predicted that “they’ll be thrilled that we’re going to be making iLike a richer experience in their environments.”

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