Here's an interesting study in contrasts. When MySpace acquired iLike back in August, MySpace left the site mostly intact. The iLike home page is still there, you can still add iLike's music-finding and sharing application to your Facebook page, and iLike is given prominent placement in Google search results for music-related queries, thanks to an October deal between MySpace and Google. (That deal also included several other companies.)
On Tuesday, MySpace completed its acquisition of Imeem, a service that used to let users upload music and videos and share playlists. In the press release announcing the finalization of the deal, MySpace noted that it will be "working as quickly as possible" to migrate "aspects of" Imeem to MySpace Music.
What does that mean? As of Tuesday, it means that Imeem's gone. Imeem.com and my personal Imeem profile both redirect to MySpace Music. The press release promises that MySpace will "be working to offer users the Imeem playlists they've created on MySpace Music," but the phrasing on the FAQ doesn't leave me much hope--"will attempt to transition" leaves a lot of wiggle room.
I always found Imeem a little confusing--especially in its early days--but I did like its user-contributed content model, which gave it a large selection of music, and I personally used it to post a lot of recordings from long-dead bands I used to play in. But I suspect that user-contributed content is one reason why MySpace is treating Imeem so differently than it treated iLike: some of that content may not have been properly licensed from content owners. In contrast, MySpace boasts that its content is "fully licensed."
Unfortunately, using MySpace Music is still a pain. It's gotten a bit better since the last time I took a close look, but I still can't find the home pages for certain artists using the MySpace search engine (Google works), the advertisements are still annoying and intrusive (text ads above search results; audio ads on a music site), and there are still no playable Led Zeppelin tracks. (Although MySpace does have The Beatles and AC/DC, which most other services don't.)
There's no free lunch, and the recent consolidation among free online music sites is beginning to look like a crackdown.