Posts tagged Myspace
Myspace may have picked a bad day to open up its redesigned site to the public. While the dethroned social networking giant quietly opened its gates Tuesday morning, everybody in the tech world was busy preparing, and then dissecting, Facebook’s announcement of Graph Search.
But let’s not bury Myspace just yet. Called the New Myspace, the redesign, which entered beta last July, is not aimed at yanking anyone away from Facebook or Google+. Its goal, under the wing of pop singer/actor/Sean Parker-playing co-owner Justin Timberlake, is to do what Myspace did best in the waning days of the site’s mid-2000s popularity: give musicians, both professional and aspiring, a better way to interact with fans and help fans discover new music.
In some ways, though that means Myspace is now competing with music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, and that’s not going to be easy, even with Timberlake’s music industry clout.
Fresh Look, But No Groundbreaking Advances
Anyone who was interested last September got a look at the new Myspace when Timberlake tweeted a vimeo link to a preview of the redesign. Not much has changed since then.
To recap, the site jettisoned the vertical flow used by most other social networks, opting instead for a horizontal stream that naturally lays out status updates, shared songs and photos. All interactions also hinge on Myspace’s version of Facebook’s “Like” and Google’s “+1,” called Connect. Symbolized by a Venn diagram that unites when you decide to subscribe to a musician or find a friend, the Connect option is logical and looks nice, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.
The true innovation – in the minds of Timberlake and Specific Media, who co-purchased the site from News Corp. in 2011 for $35 million – is the black bar running across the bottom of the site.
While it resembles the ‘Now Playing’ bar at the top of iTunes and other streaming sites, Myspace’s implementation is meant to make playing and sharing music a central aspect of the experience. It puts the Home button, your Profile link and your Notification Center right alongside it, with Discover and Search options as well. Discover is the key to exploring Myspace, letting you see what’s trending and listen to custom radio stations and mixes.
Myspace’s music discovery service comes together in the interactions between the artist profiles and your own. Essentially, users connect to an artist, get updates from that artist, and can stream shared tracks – or even whole albums – while interacting with other fans, amateur musicians, DJs, producers, etc. To help facilitate this music-based interaction, new Myspace subscribers are asked to put themselves into one of a handful of categories, ranging from musician or venue to fan or promoter.
Early experimentation yields some interesting results. For instance, pulling up the Search tab next to the Discover button lets you type in the name of a band, and yields a list of streamable and sharable tracks, band info. Presumably as time goes on, the service will add actual updates from bands that agree to hop back on the Myspace bandwagon.
That’s the key, of course. The New Myspace looks and works fine. But the revived social network’s biggest, and most likely insurmountable, obstacle is that it’s a ghost town right now, and it will probably stay that way.
What Good Is Myspace In A Facebook/Spotify World?
The problem is that it’s simply too late for Myspace to capture any ground from its competitors.
Spotify, with its ever-increasing library of available music, Facebook-anchored sharing and playlist making, and tiered accounts for mobile and offline use is not going to lose users to Myspace, despite Justin Timberlake’s enthusiasm.
And that brings up another issue. Timberlake’s face plastered on Myspace’s homepage has been getting a lot of flak, and for good reason. Debuting his new single, “Suit & Tie,” on the homepage of the social network he co-owns may be good marketing, but could also be seen as a cheap, self-promotional move.
Myspace may have once been the king of social networking, but those days are gone forever. If Timberlake is able to convince fellow musicians to partner with the site, it’s likely to hang around for at least a while, but that’s about it.
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We first alerted you to the coming iteration of the new NEW Myspace last fall when the preview video was first released. At the time all you could do was watch the super cool video and leave your email address in hopes of getting an invite to Justin Timberlake’s hot media party. So far only [...]
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The ReadWrite DeathWatch is known for serving up plenty of doom, gloom and grumpiness. But for the Holiday Season, we’re taking a slightly different tack – highlighting companies, technologies and perspectives that have managed to cheat death. T
This week, we’re taking a look at MySpace, that social network that showed Friendster how it was done, then got shown the door by Facebook. When its users bailed and the tumbleweeds started rolling, MySpace could have packed it in, but instead, it regrouped for one last shot – behind a leader with some really sweet dance moves.
Where Myspace Came From
In 2005, traditional media took note, and Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp dropped $580 million for MySpace and its parent company. By fiscal 2008, Fox Interactive (MySspace’s new parent)
The next May, Facebook, already bigger overseas, surpassed MySpace in the U.S. by nearly doubling its user base over the previous year. Myspace responded by slashing 400 jobs to reinvent “a startup culture.” The decline was on.
Planning to refocus on MySpace’s biggest strength – music – Specific Media brought in Justin Timberlake for some star power and industry cred. Management went into planning mode, and apart from a new logo and a more graphical home page, the site just kind of sat there. On the plus side, the bleeding stopped by December, and Myspace (now with a lowercase “s”) actually started adding users again.
Where Myspace Is Now
In September, 2012, the team began teasing a new, more visually attractive site, focused on a single mission: providing a single social space for consumers and labels to discover musical artists. In the words of an employee, “There’s going to be a huge emphasis on surfacing unknown and up-and-coming artists of all kinds and content around them that is different from what you get on other sites.”
The site looks a lot like Twitter. And Pinterest. And every other social media site that’s hot right now. There’s a layer of media sharing and consumption tools, plus reporting tools that let artists see who’s listening to and sharing their music, help them strike up relationships with promoters, influencers and (if they’re lucky) music labels.
Myspace began taking requests for invitations and pushed its beta to the industry, with consumer invites to follow. The beta has drawn mixed critical reviews of the business model. ReadWrite’s Jon Mitchell can’t understand why anyone would invest so heavily in the Web when mobile is where the action is, and he may be right. Still, everyone seems to agree about three things: The beta looks fantastic. It’s hyper-focused on sharing and discovery. Justin Timberlake is more than just a name on the marquis – he has a very real stake in the product’s success.
So why would Timberlake risk his reputation on reviving Myspace? For one thing, it still has assets. With 28 million unique monthly visitors, Myspace is no Facebook (152 million), but it’s bigger than Pandora (21 million), and more than twice the size of Spotify (12 million). It also has global rights to its catalog, while Pandora is limited to U.S. distribution. The catalog itself is much larger, too, owing to Myspace’s direct relationships with unsigned artists, who bring 27 million of the service’s 42 million tracks. And as Myspace’s parent company pointed out in a leaked slide deck in November, those unsigned artists’ songs are free, dramatically lowering Myspace’s costs per listening hour.
A Myspace spokesperson was honest about the company dropping the ball. “I think, internally, we all felt like we’d let that community down; like we owed them something and had to make it right by delivering on the promise of Myspace.” But she also understood that no one had picked up the slack. “In its heyday, Myspace was a great platform for artists. When we stopped serving that community, no one else stepped in to give artists a place to put their music, connect with audiences, see how their art’s resonating with people, promote themselves, collaborate with other creators… The need for a Myspace is there. We plan on delivering on that need.”
Where Myspace Is Headed
Myspace has a product to sell. It has the economics to make that product profitable. It just needs to make the product desirable.
This is where star power comes in. Timberlake has managed to endear himself to teenage girls who think he’s cute, grown-up women who find him sexy, and grandparents who want to pinch his cheeks – all without alienating guys, who want to drink a beer with him and meet his wife. Timberlake is there to bring labels to the unsigned bands, marquee names to the catalog, and users to the site. If he delivers, it’s up to the team to keep them interacting.
And what about that team? As one Myspace worker puts it: “Before Tim & Chris & Justin took over Myspace, I was looking for jobs elsewhere. I wasn’t even confident that new ownership would make a difference. But when they bought the company and we met them, heard what they had to say, there was an immediately noticeable shift. These guys were really ready to turn this thing around, and they had a plan. And the sense I get from them is that they don’t fail. They work hard and are focused on specific goals that can succeed, which was really refreshing. The staff, who were tired of being on the losing team, started to perk up and get energized again because we started to have a focus and a goal and some real hope.”
Employee excitement doesn’t necessarily lead to a turnaround, but it’s a necessary component, and something Myspace has lacked for a while.
Can Myspace Make It?
There are a lot of “ifs” in this scenario, but once you posit that there’s a market for a music discovery and sharing service, Myspace actually seems to be in the lead.
Or it will be, once the beta launches. The date on that is still uncertain. According to the company, “We’re literally pushing fresh code every day. We’re actively getting feedback from our community and making tweaks and adjustments based on what they tell us.”
The site is due to relaunch at some point in 2013, and when it does, we’ll see whether Myspace belongs on real DeathWatch list.
As of the end of 2012, though, Myspace is still here – and still potentially relevant. So we tip our caps to them, and look forward to seeing whether the company can make it all the way back.
To see more ReadWrite DeathWatches, check out the ReadWrite DeathWatch Series, which collects them all, the most recent first.
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MySpace is planning to get into the music subscription business – because let’s face it, it’s got to do something.
The move into music subscriptions has been rumored for quite some time, but Monday Business Insider published a leaked slide deck that appears to confirm it. In the second quarter of next year, Interactive (formerly Specific) Media, MySpace’s parent company, plans to launch what it describes a “mobile subscription model” intended to compete with Pandora and Spotify, companies MySpace identifies by name as future competitors.
MySpace has fallen a long way since its peak as a social network in 2008. That was the year that its traffic was first eclipsed by Facebook’s and things have gotten much worse since. MySpace’s trend lines have all slid downward as Facebook has exploded and new social networks have risen to prominence.
Refocusing On Music Has Slowed The Bleeding… So Far
After being sold to Specific Media by News Corporation (for a wince-inducing fraction of its original price tag), MySpace more or less gave up on the social networking game and instead refocused its efforts on the thing that gave it traction in the first place: music. After doing so, the site saw its first membership bump in quite some time and its overall traffic stopped falling off a cliff, at least according to the publicly available guestimates from sources like Compete. By no means is MySpace headed back to the lofty metrics of its heyday, but its music-focused relaunch appears to have slowed the hemorrhaging.
For its next act, MySpace is poised to join Spotify, Rdio and, to a lesser extent, Pandora in the music-subscription space. The move makes sense in a few respects. MySpace has long been associated with music and refocusing its efforts there has already begun to pay off in terms of traffic.
It’s also sitting on a catalog of 42 million songs, compared to about 17 million in Spotify’s music library. That massive collection of music is due in large part to the millions of unsigned artists who have uploaded tracks to MySpace over the years. It’s a ton of music, but it’s provenance means the quality varies pretty widely. To beef up its musical arsenal even further, MySpace plans on investing at least $15 million in music licensing deals, provided it can win over new investors.
While MySpace has some built-in musical advantages, entering this space is still a risky move. Spotify and Pandora, streaming music’s dominant players, might have some impressive metrics to tout, but profit is not one of them. Even as subscriptions and ad revenue grow, these companies continue to struggle under the weight of enormous music licensing costs. MySpace is already floundering in the social networking market, even with its renewed focus on music. Is pivoting to another money-losing business really the wisest move?
Maybe, maybe not. At this point, this is probably the last, best shot MySpace has at returning to something resembling relevance. It’s worth a try.
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Myspace is dead: Long live Myspace. The late social network known for garish user-generated designs is back in a bid to become what its leaders say it should have been from the beginning: a home for artist discovery and development. But after years of fumbling, can this Internet punchline become relevant again? I put that question to Roger Mincheff, president of Myspace Entertainment.
In February, Mincheff left his post running 20th Century Fox’s digital strategy for branded entertainment to join Myspace. Before that, he ran his own digital marketing agency, Spacedog Media, where he worked with Citibank, Panasonic, Qantas and independent comic book publisher Top Cow (orginator of Spawn), introducing product placement into comic books and - surprise – writing original graphic novels, many of which he sold to major film studios.
In early 2012, Mincheff was tapped for Myspace by new owners Tim and Chris Vanderhook, who setup a meeting with minority owner Justin Timberlake in a Manhattan restaurant that was emptied for the occasino. The meeting sealed the deal.
I met Mincheff several months ago for breakfast in Beverly Hills, far from pesky PR staffers and associates. We didn’t have the whole restaurant to ourselves, but by the way he talked and lit up when he told his story, it almost felt that way.
RWW: What led you to take the Myspace position?
Roger Mincheff: I could not have been more excited or doing better at Fox, building this new business for them. But in talking about Myspace and content, Justin looked at me and said, “You’re not cool because you say you’re cool, you’re cool because you do something cool.”
And when you’re sitting there and you have an opportunity to literally write history – whatever happens with Myspace it will either flame out, which I don’t believe, or it will come back. No matter which one, it will be epic, and history will write that story. So to be part of a story like Myspace, with someone like Justin, where content is central, it was an epic opportnuity. I drink the Kool-Aid.
RWW: Were you onboard before Timberlake came on?
RM: It was a possibility, but when Justin said that, I said, “that’s my calling.”
RWW: What’s the biggest challenge in rebuilding MySpace?
RM: The biggest issue is perception, because from a audience and consumer standpoint, Myspace is a phenomenal value. From a function standpoint, it is probably the best music/creative experience out there. But none of that matters if people don’t know that. From the audience standpoint, it actually became cool to think Myspace was dead. But having the indie spirit of Justin and the Vanderhook brothers, I think when the audience tries the new Myspace, that will happen.
The harder obstacle in my mind is [convincing] the brands and the agencies. Because if you covered the name Myspace and just showed brands our numbers, we would be a “must.” But what we have to overcome is the perception that Myspace isn’t relevant.
The reality is we have a massive, young, active audience already; forget anything new. Part of it is just reeducating the brands about how relevant we really are and the impact we’re capable of having. And I think when all of the new Myspace starts rolling out and getting exposed to that, I really do think on a lot of levels, it’s manifest destiny. It has to happen.
RWW: What is the new Myspace?
RM: We’re bringing Myspace back to what it should have been. Meaning the legacy of Myspace, the mission statement of Myspace hasn’t changed at all. It’s about empowering discovery. If you’re an artist looking to be discovered or if you’re a fan looking to discover, that’s where Myspace will win. That is still at the core. The new Myspace is simply superior tools, technologies, community and support.
RWW: Who do you look up to in business?
RM: Lee Iacocca and Steve Jobs. They were going to fail or succeed, but the credit or blame would lay nowhere else but on them.
RWW: Is that what you would say is going on right now in your current role at Myspace?
RM: I’m the president of Myspace Entertainment, I head up the component of the company that makes content. So if you’re going to see a concert, if you’re going to see a series, if you’re going to see any content that’s from Myspace, distributed, I will own that. I can’t be too pompous because a lot of other things have to go right. The technology has to work, the platform, the music, which is the driver, so a lot of things have to happen. But the content piece of it, which is mine, absolutely. That’s why I look up to those guys and how you have to live your life. Own what you do and be ready to take the accolades or the blame.
RWW: You said earlier you have several unreleased comic-book properties ready for publication. How does that tie into the original content you’re planning for Myspace?
RM: Myspace once had an incredible comic-book community. This is a platform for creators: How am I going to use my own platform to promote what it is I’m doing? I also have Arcana and Top Cow (comic book publishers), either one, I have an open invitation [to publish].
RWW: Could you do both? Could those be released via Myspace and in conjunction with a comic-book publisher?
RM: Absolutely. That’s an interesting call. Do you actually show you’re multimedia and you’re paper and you’re digital? Or is it even bolder to say: ‘We’re in the digital age, it’s about digital, let’s just do this digitally?’ What I haven’t decided is, with all of the things I have lined up, which one do I want to go with first?
RWW: With all these commitments going on, how do you stay sane and balanced?
RM: I’ve played softball with the same core group of guys every Monday night since 1993. It’s a slice of sanity I can rely on every week. The second part of my answer is that I have 8-year-old twins, and while both are athletes, neither have ever played on a team that wasn’t coached by Dad. It’s been a scheduling nightmare at times, but definitely worth it. I don’t think anything builds character like sports, and watching them develop their personalities has been one of life’s best treats to date. The task at hand is so overwhelming that even if it’s a couple minutes before I go to bed, or even if it’s coaching my kids on a baseball team, those slivers of time I take for myself are my sanity. Softball, my kids and comics books, those really are my passions.
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Adam, Brian, Jon and Robyn discuss the future of the music business, which has come up in several RWW stories lately, in our latest Googl+ Hangout. Brian describes the argument he just had with a rock star, and Adam tells tales about his recent visit to Myspace HQ.
Here are links to the posts and topics we talked about:
- RWW: BitTorrent Downloads Booming – And Benefitting Musicians
- RWW: Screw The New iPods: We Need Better Music Players
- RWW: Justin Timberlake Is Bringing Myspace Back To The Desktop, Where No One Will Use It
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock
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Yesterday the buzz engines lit up with chatter about the tease of a totally revamped MySpace. ”The NEW MySpace” released a video previewing the look and features of what Justin Timberlake and others hope to be a huge come-back. The first thing I noticed was that MySpace has embraced the fact that is rejoining a [...]
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Myspace is back. It even has a pre-launch page where you can put your email address. In case you need a desktop-focused social network for sharing cool things you like that isn’t already called Pinterest, this is the day you’ve been waiting for. You probably don’t, though.
— Justin Timberlake(@jtimberlake) September 24, 2012
The new Myspace prominently features Twitter and Facebook connect buttons, so it’s not going to try to compete on identity. Rather, it’s a more fully featured media-sharing site, retaining its focus on music with a built-in player, and it also seems to offer some basic “insights” to users about how people are interacting with posts.
In other words, it looks like a fancier Tumblr-Pinterest combo with close ties to the music business. It probably makes more sense to social media marketers than it will to anyone else. And the most mind-blowing part is that this design is clearly built for the desktop Web, a place the most compelling social software is already leaving behind.
It’s hard to comprehend why anybody is spending money on this – not to mention Justin Timberlake. Even Facebook – the last great desktop software company, as Tim Carmody likes to say – is going all in to become a mobile-focused company. It should be immediately clear to anyone investing in tech that mobile is where people spend their time and attention today. To launch a heavy desktop Web service right now seems totally tone-deaf.
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In a settlement announced yesterday by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the present owners of music-information-sharing service Myspace (now with a small “s”) agreed never to do again what it cannot really do now even if it wanted to: share its members’ personal identification with a parent company that runs a major advertising network.
Blast from the past
For those who don’t remember Myspace, much less this once-prominent case, we need to go back to 2008, before social networks were also platforms, and APIs were things that Microsoft got sued for not disclosing. In this era, the exchange of data between MySpace (then with a big “S”) and its parent company in 2008, Fox Interactive Media, took place without the use of extra details such as encryption and permissions. Since MySpace no longer treated FIM as a third-party, it enabled FIM’s advertising platform – then called “Fox Audience Network,” or FAN – to serve advertisements to a MySpace member by serving up his “Friend ID,” essentially a series of decimal digits.
The way you reconstructed that member’s MySpace page URL was simply by tacking that Friend ID onto the end of the domain name http://www.myspace.com/. From there, pulling up every personal detail that “friend” already shared on MySpace, including his full name, was a trivial matter.
FIM’s assembly of such a powerful advertising network out in the open, blatantly, without members’ consent, was once one of the hot-button issues of the Web. It helped make the MySpace brand synonymous with “privacy violation” and may have helped trigger the exodus of users to Facebook, which had grown from an interesting contender to the undisputed social networking champion in the course of 2008 alone.
Some would say Myspace has already served its sentence, with the trimming of its “s” as just one symbol of its penitence. In the settlement agreement order, the FTC commissioners mandated that Myspace must now submit itself to a biannual review of its privacy policies for the next 20 years. It then went into substantial detail in ensuring that mandate is carried over into whatever form Myspace takes in the future, and whichever parent or parents end up owning it.
Despite Myspace’s fall into irrelevance, the ruling itself does have some pertinence, particularly with respect to whose pillar the FTC looks to for support. The U.S. currently has a safe harbor agreement with the European Union, which presents a framework for U.S. companies to avoid violating EU law when they exchange potentially personally identifiable data with other parties. The framework mandates that online services notify users when their personal data is about to be shared with others, give them tools for researching how that data may be used and give them the option of canceling such sharing. It’s really a trade agreement between governments, but until the U.S. is capable of codifying such language in a law that pertains to native commerce, it’s the best the FTC can do. It charged Myspace with violating the principles of that agreement, and it was successful in eking out a settlement.
That fact may give lawmakers cause to continue delaying any serious discussion of hardening U.S. privacy law for yet another term of Congress.
There are plenty of tech-savvy Web users young enough not to remember what MySpace was. At a time when the Internet industry was just waking from the delerium of the “bursting bubble,” MySpace was the first great hope for building viable properties again. In July 2005, it was acquired by FIM, which rode its wave of success, at least at first. Then, in a stunning move that may have changed the Internet forever, Google paid FIM $900 million not to launch its own search engine, effectively stunting the service’s growth. (No such deal has ever been reached between Google and Facebook, some would say to the latter’s credit.)
The service is not dead, however. RWW’s John Paul Titlow reported in February that the steep drop in Myspace’s user base may have at last subsided, settling at perhaps one-fourth what it was at its peak. Still, the service’s diminished status is commemorated today by the fact that Google treats the term “MySpace” in the context of a query as a misspelling of “Facebook.”
Now that’s justice.
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