Bringing Sexy Back to MySpace

MySpace was one of the earliest players in the social media universe, but as savvier rivals such as Facebook rose to prominence, MySpace stagnated, dying the slow, painful death of those who fall behind by standing still.

When Justin Timberlake and Specific Media announced they were bringing MySpace back, a collective cringe rolled through the Internet. Personally, I suffered flashbacks of neon images wallpapered behind white scrolling text.

Given that many of us already have embraced an ever-expanding Facebook, adapted to Twitter’s 140 character microblogs, given Google+ a fair chance and figured out what all the hype was with Pinterest, do we really need another social networking site? How many accounts can one person juggle? I maintain five, and I have zero interest in adding more. In fact, my greatest interest these days isn’t even in the mainstream—it is Goodreads, a niche site for readers where I can’t necessarily stalk lost friends from high school, but I can rate books I’ve read and connect with authors I love.

But my curiosity got the best of me and I had to investigate how Timberlake and Specific Media planned to revive MySpace.  I signed up for its news list and, a few weeks ago, received an early invitation to join the New MySpace. I checked it out, and quickly discovered that the New MySpace was like nothing I expected. And—pending legal issues aside—it might just work.  Here’s how:

  • Niche audience. Like my beloved Goodreads, the New MySpace is not for everyone. And it’s not meant to be. The site is tailored for music enthusiasts—particularly pop music—although that could change as more musicians join the site. An appropriate choice, considering the sites’ new backer and its origins as a platform for local bands to share and promote their music. And if music geeks are as into their community as I am into my reading community, this may be the difference between death on arrival and a dynamic, thriving community.
  • Unique features. Everything about the New MySpace is designed with this audience in mind. Users can add tunes to their status updates, feature their top eight favorite albums in their profiles and even create playlists and stream music directly from the site.
  • Slick design. While users can still post a photo as a backdrop, they also can choose a specific song to play whenever someone visits their profile page. Overall, New MySpace is slick and modern, giving it the edgy kick it so badly needed. The choice to have pages scroll horizontally seems arbitrary, but it’s easy to get used to, and the general site design is pleasing and easy to navigate.

What will New MySpace mean for branding? It’s too early to make much of a real assessment. Effective outreach on the site will largely depend on how real users engage with it. (Though that’s not stopping many from offering tips.) Those determined to be early adopters would be wise to follow Timberlake’s lead. Since the site has gone live, the pop star has used his MySpace account to post teasers and sneak peeks to his new album, and to offer a first listen of his new single “Suit and Tie.” Such early looks and exclusive content, which are highly valued by fans, also are likely to be successful tactics for others promoting on the site.

There is a lot yet to come for New MySpace. Right now, the site is loaded with tricks and tools, but very few voices, giving it the feel of a digital ghost town. Will real music enthusiasts and artists find value in what the site offers? The potential is there.  Only time will tell.

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