MySpace is back!

5 Dec

If it’s not the original social network, it’s certainly the first that got huge traction. How, where or why it started isn’t something I’m an expert in, but bands first saw the opportunity it presented. For the first time there was a chance for musicians of all genres to connect with fans anywhere around the world. You didn’t need a record deal, you didn’t need mix tapes or a distribution network to get your music into the hands of a fan. Up until MySpace democratised the music industry, only people local to your band or who had seen you tour (yep, self funded tours were part and parcel of band life) would know anything about your music. Or you could send a demo to John Peel and hope for airplay on Radio 1… keep dreaming.

Believe the Hype

For a while MySpace was the only show in town. For three years it was the most visited social network on the planet, in 2005 News Corp paid over $500million for the company. Yes, it was horrible to use and yes, it looked ugly, but you could connect with friends, bands and people you’ve never met to discuss stuff you were interested in. It might seem fairly obvious now in a social media world, but this really blew my mind when I first jumped on MySpace.

The F Word

Unfortunately, I think the staff at MySpace started to believe the hype around their product too. Then the F word hit. Facebook. Zuckerberg’s creation passed MySpace as the #1 social network. And after that, it’s been downhill all the way. Staff redundancies, falling visitor numbers, re-brands, pivoting business models… all with no effect.

MySpace

New MySpace has a smart redesign

Light at the End of the Tunnel

But MySpace is back. The company was picked up for song by team that included Justin Timberlake as an investor, but more importantly had Tim and Chris Vanderhook at the helm. And they set about turning the ship around and making something people might want to use. They released a teaser video earlier in 2012 which got tongues wagging on the competition. This looked cool, it looked fresh, it looked slick… it looked better than pretty much everything else out there. There was also a noticeable humour about it too – listen to the words of the backing track, Heartbeat by JJAMZ:

“Who am I to say I want you back?”

“I haven’t loved you in a long, long time, so why do I feel this way?”

“Maybe I’m ashamed to want you back…”

“Thought I hated you a long, long time, that was my mistake”

The Vanderhook’s know that MySpace was the first love for millions and they know they have a job to win back those hearts.

Beta

So it was with excitement when my “personal invitation” arrived to join the beta of MySpace and I jumped right in. So far, it’s almost everything the teaser video promised. Smart looks, easy to use and connect with people and bands. The message is clear: music is still central to MySpace. The one thing that seems to be missing at the minute? People! My initial poking around found very few actual people who I’d want to connect with, and precisely no one who I knew.

My (Future) Space?

But let’s not be too harsh. I’ve been using Google+ for over a year and still haven’t found many people I know – although I have built a useful network. MySpace is still in beta test and invite only, so it’s not a surprise every man and his dog aren’t using it.

But they face a huge task.

The team behind the platform need to give me (and everyone) a compelling reason to use the service. I actively use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ to connect with friends. I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter for work. I use YouTube for my videos and discovering new music (along with Spotify). So where will MySpace fit in my social universe? I don’t know. But I have enough good memories and nostalgia and give it a crack for a while and see where the ride takes me. And you should too! If you want an invite, I’ve still got a few left. You can find me on Twitter or Google+ mainly!

Andi Jarvis

You can find Andi on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn

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