A few days ago I saw on Vimeo’s page a promo for the New MySpace. At first I thought it was a joke. Then once I visited the official site, I knew that it was indeed real. MySpace is going for a come-back.
I must admit, there’s a small part of me (actually, a big part of me) that wants to see them succeed. It would make an amazing business and social media case study. The social giant falls from grace, becomes the butt-end of endless jokes, then out of nowhere comes back strong to be a real contender.
As you recall, MySpace was the #1 social media destination. Then it started going downhill. A cluttered and heinous interface plus constant ad bombarding opened the way for a small outfit out of Harvard University to take the top spot. That of course was Facebook. Facebook was sleek and simple.
Facebook is now considered one of the top technology companies in the world. It along with Google, Apple and Amazon are highly regarded as the kings of the industry, the companies to be reckoned with.
But if there’s anything we’ve learned from MySpace’s own story, is that hegemony does not last forever. In fact, when it comes to industry in general, you can never assume the king will stay on top. This is a valuable lesson we’ve seen played out again, and again, and again. Blockbuster. Barnes & Noble. AOL. IBM. AT&T. Yahoo! Microsoft. These are all companies that at one point or another were considered the undisputed leader in their respective market places. Now, they are either on the verge of bankruptcy, or have become second tier (or even third and fourth tier) players. No one can afford to rest on their laurels.
The New MySpace
So that brings me back to MySpace and Facebook. Seven years ago Fox News bought MySpace for over half a billion dollars. On June 30 they sold it to Justin Timberlake and two other investors for a paltry $35 million. (Ouch!)
The irony to this whole situation is two-fold. First, as you know, Justin played Facebook co-founder and investor Sean Parker in the critically acclaimed and blockbuster hit “The Social Network.” Second, for a long time now, Facebook has been getting to be a drag. Constantly changing privacy policies, frustrating interfaces, constant streams for group and event invites clogging people’s inboxes, frustrations with fan page management; all of these issues are making it less of a user experience. And here’s the kicker. One of the most dominating demographics that uses Facebook are teens and young adults. This is the same group that was the dominating demographic of MySpace. A group that is very fickle (which would explain why MySpace was able to fall from grace so quickly). That combined with Facebook’s frustrating changes to the use of business fan pages (you can’t even efficiently contact your “fan” base), makes their foundation kind of weak, in my humble opinion.
There are three things I think MySpace is doing right:
- Focus. They aren’t trying to be all things to all people. They are going to focus on the music industry (which has been a primary focus for them a while now).
- Design. They are creating an interface that’s nice to look at. Many have already commented on how similar the experience is to Pinterest and Instagram. I think that’s a very smart move. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. “Borrow” heavily from what’s already working (Facebook has done the same thing, “borrowing” from Twitter).
- Promotion. Getting a high-profile celebrity, who’s also a musician, to be the “face” of MySpace is a smart move for obvious reason. Justin has the fan base and demographic following. The question is: will they be able to keep up with the times and keep that demographic engaged. Only time will tell.
Below is the video for the new site. Tell me what you think? Can MySpace make a come-back?
I hope so.
Kris Simmons says
It’s nice to see MySpace return from the ashes but I wonder if the music scene is deep enough to make them a real contender down the road. Maybe it will be more than just for the musicians but also for all the music fans. I’d definitely “past my prime” as it relates to MySpace but this was a very insightful post. Thanks Ron!