By Laurena Marrone with contributions by Victoria Plummer of Grit PR & Promotion
It seems like just yesterday that musicians across the world were raving about MySpace and virtually promoting their MySpace pages even more than their own websites. I remember falling in love with MySpace, too, especially all of the great things it offered for up and coming musicians.
Then Facebook came along and virtually wiped out what was, in my opinion, a much better platform for music. What happened?
As someone involved in the music industry, I watched MySpace’s collapse very closely as artists began to push their Facebook sites more and more. To me, it could have been any number of things that caused this to occur. But I think that clearly what happened is that Facebook became the dominant Social Network… period. It would have been foolish for artists to not jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of its power and momentum. And, as artists, how much time can really be spent managing the various sites that cater to musicians– not to mention their own websites. Let’s face it, it is extremely time consuming.
So MySpace was saved and re-vamped to become a comprehensive Social Entertainment site, focusing on everything from Indie artists to television shows. It seemed like a smart move. Big name advertisers got behind and continue to support the site. It became a one-stop-browsing experience for music, video, entertainment news and much more…even connecting with Facebook. But after all of this, Facebook still continues to dominate.
But is MySpace rallying for its position? CNN Tech news reported that just last month MySpace gained one million new users, and boasts 42 million songs, making Spotify’s 15 million look like a drop in the bucket. MySpace boasts the largest song collection on the Internet. So why don’t more musicians know?
With its revamp, MySpace has targeted indie bands and underground movements to create active, community fan bases. A new on-demand music player, personalized radio, and integration with Facebook are some of the changes the creative team has made to make the site feel more social. Even with a dynamic redesign, artists are slow to return to the once-great social giant as their media hub. I interviewed a number of artists, from the World, Urban, Indie-Rock, and Singer/Songwriter genres, to gain their perspective of the site.
“I haven’t used it in so long, that it took me a while to remember my login information,” admits acoustic songstress Christine Leneé, who hadn’t logged on to her account in 2 years. “I think most people have shifted to Facebook … MySpace seems more complex, and substantial spam emails are a problem.”
After hearing about the changes at MySpace, Christine was inclined to start using the site again, hoping it will be a viable tool to spread her music. Others weren’t as enthused. Connecticut singer, Johnny Crome finds the redesign a short-winded gimmick.
“The suits are not at ground zero, so they don’t know what’s currently dope. They’re swagless and that’s why they still funnel money into MySpace. It’s something I like to call “reverse sexy.” Even Facebook is getting oversaturated now. You have Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest all coming up as well.”
The list of sites goes on and on: SoundCloud, BandCamp, Topspin. In the wake of MySpace’s decline, endless social media sites started appearing in its absence, gaining in popularity and creating strong footholds in some music communities. MySpace now has the added task of overcoming those sites, and gaining back the users it quickly lost.
Almost a year ago, Newscorp sold MySpace to Specific Media for 35 million dollars, and under the new management, and a partnership with Justin Timberlake, MySpace rolled out its redesign, with a hyper-media focus and numerous sponsorships. The launch of MySpace TV and the MySpace Music Player boosted their dwindling numbers by a million. Which makes me wonder, what would it take for the once-great social media site to completely recover from their lost momentum?
“[They] would have to launch a pretty big campaign to get people’s attention again. Give artists money, monetize for play and videos, create the ability to have a store and sell physical merchandise, too,” remarks Jemal Wade Hines.
As the vocalist and businessman of indie-rock ensemble HuDost, Jemal makes a fine point. MySpace can’t be a catchall for media. Right now it serves too many purposes connected by the title of media and entertainment. They’ve collected existing outlets, and placed them all on one site. While it is much improved, and I would say, preferable than other sites; MySpace hasn’t innovated enough to make the site a unique contender in the social entertainment and media space.
The Denn brothers aren’t so sure on the future of MySpace. They’re two parts of the southern three-piece, The Chorderoys, who agree the site has a great platform, but is crippled by its lack of users and a sullied reputation.
“On a commercial level, MySpace will make a minor comeback. Catering to listeners is great for professional networking; Musicians are always looking to swap shows and ideas. But for the personal enjoyment of those few million that are still using MySpace? We’ll see.”
So, is MySpace ready for its comeback? There is unease to say so. Artists and audiences alike aren’t keen or even familiar with the Social Networking site anymore. While it does have a great media player, and has become a highly interactive media space, it’s still seen as an internet relic of years past. Its multiple redesigns and rebranding have come across to the digital public as a signal of distress, rather than a much needed sign of hope.
Guest Post by Laurena Marrone and Victoria Plummer,
Grit PR & Promotions