There was one pioneering social media conglomerate, MySpace. It was a network built around being a commodity for both personal communities and business communities, with band’s in particular using it as the first vice to stay in incessant contact with their fans. Peaking in at around 2004, it was one of the busiest sites on the web, attracting tens of millions of users per day and revolutionising advertising by connecting massive companies with an untapped much younger audience.
At the park of the network, Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corp purchased the social network for a whopping £580 million dollars in 2005, a price which was generally regarded as extremely high. Soon enough, sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn began to attract the mainstream market away, and the niche music-types were lured away to services like Soundcloud, Spotify and Deezer. Tom’s MySpace fast began to shrink; the company which had it ALL had missed a trick.
As six years trickled by Murdoch and co. washed their hands with MySpace at a $545 million loss (for a comparatively miniscule $35 million price tag) to a group of investors led by Chris and Tim Vanderhook who included in their team the pop music and movie star Justin Timberlake — Tom’s friends had become considerably prettier.
Myspace has officially re-launched with a complete re-design and overhaul in a $20 million ad and PR campaign which began this week all over the biggest stations on American television. After Timberlake’s purchase of co-ownership in 2011, the site was expected to partly aim for music-types, and so it has done: it boasts a music database of 53 million songs, and there’s a function called My Radio, which lets users create mixes and stations for fans and followers to listen to. It integrates all sorts of features, including an iOS app that includes its own GIF maker.
Fast Company said: “On the app, an artist, or any Myspace user, programs his or her radio station and then shares it with others who can listen for free….’Artists are in control…They can play their tracks or the music that inspired them while making their album, the work of their collaborators, their overall influences.'”
“The app will launch with 25 featured artist stations, including ones by Pharrell, Lil Wayne, and Lady Antebellum. (Only the genre stations–rock, country, R&B, etc.–will still be programmed by algorithms.)”
Speaking to the Associated Press, Myspace co-owner Tim Vanderhook said: “Today more than ever, there’s this need for a creative ecosystem that kind of caters to the creative community and that’s both a social network and the streaming services attached… For us when we looked at it, we really talked to a lot of artists and… they all said, ‘I use all these various platforms but none of them really do what we need.’ What they really needed, they explained to us, was a home.”
It makes some kind of sense, really, and if the niche music market can get over the vogue that is Soundcloud and Facebook’s decreasing momentum comes to a halt it may yet be achievable. However, it’s just not going to be easy and the odds will be well against them, and the exceptionally difficult task of an overhaul will be made harder by the flippant, young audience (they’ve cited a 13-30 demographic) they’re hoping to encapsulate. It has almost become something of a joke among a good amount of the young people they seek to attract.
It doesn’t help that with the re-vamp, they deleted all of their users’ archived blogs: “Obviously MySpace has very few friends left to alienate…but that hasn’t stopped it annoying the hell out of its few remaining fans by forcing through an update to its shiny new music discovery platform that’s swallowed their old blog content, with no guarantee it’s ever going to be retrievable. Oh but users are being told to vote on the idea of getting their deleted stuff back. I mean WTF?” said Tech Crunch.
They’ve come wanted to re-establish and reinvigorate the creative community that helped launch the careers of artists like Adele and Bruno Mars.
“All those people used it as that vehicle to control their online presence and promote themselves,” said Vanderhook. “The core where we started from was building out the toolset for the artist community to connect with their fans. It’s a completely human-programmed experience.”
Initial reactions have not been overly positive, but what can you expect, Myspace? After all, you created this beast.
Here is the 90-second video from their multi-million pound AD campaign.
MySpace has a hell of a long way to go if it wants to get back on top. Consider that the site currently has 32.6 million global monthly users whilst Facebook has 1.1 billion monthly active users, Twitter also announced in December that it has over 200 million monthly users – just to put the task into perspective. Check out the full list of social network users here.