October 03, 2012 - Comments Off on Is there space online for a new old friend?

Is there space online for a new old friend?

Out of a whirlwind of social signals, slick promo clips and to an ever-present soundscape of a Justin Timberlake back-catalogue – the new’ new myspace dropped last week on an unsuspecting web, ever eager to get on board the next, newest, shiniest thing – even if that ‘thing’ is old at heart.

Pre-launched now and targeted firmly at the tech-savvy, creative-industry hipsters (hey, like all of us – right?), the revamped website looks like a mash-up between Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, with a concerted focus on music, entertainment discovery and integration.

There’s no denying that the thing looks – and looks like it works – pretty damn ‘sick’ (sorry – I’m actually 39). And, with its achingly cool mission – to ‘empower creative people to express themselves in whatever way they want’ it makes Facebook’s desire to be a ‘ubiquitous social utility’ seem an ambition derived from the best of Marxist propaganda.

Old new media.

Back in the day, myspace dramatically fell from grace in the eyes of the masses under a deluge of home-hacked pages, slow load times and an overkill of random messages. This was all topped off by absolutely no investment in the core technology. That certainly looks to have been addressed this time; now it’s a ‘proper’ grown-up platform for sophisticated urban types.

But some things don’t change and that could actually be what brings myspace back from the brink.

Myspace has managed to stay afloat thanks to the constant stream of musicians on the site, who still use it as a marketing platform that now promises to be even more of the focus for users.

The new myspace will let users connect to the site with their Twitter or Facebook accounts – a sign that it won’t be directly competing with those sites as a social-networking service. Rather, myspace will continue with its entertainment mandate. It will be a place to play and discover music, add photos, videos and playlists and connect with artists.

When it comes to positioning, myspace is still high up the charts for those searching for artists because of its previous status as number one. So, if they use the best practice of SEO when launching a new site – and if they can retain all this visibility and relaunch the UX then it could – could – be big again.

What was once an all-encompassing social network has now become a one-page marketing platform for artists and labels.

However, one thing the platform still retains is the promise of ownership of the page. At a time where other mainstream platforms are squeezing the opportunity for personal expression – this will still appeal to many.

Barriers or challenges?

But there are two other major hurdles myspace needs to show that it has overcome this time round.

The first is the ubiquitous mobile conundrum. Facebook is regularly derided – by users and investors – for failing to get it right on mobile platforms. And when it comes to music and entertainment– it’s all about the cloud, the on the go. Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Last.FM to name but a few, are leaps ahead. However, as Apple’s now defunct social music attempt Ping showed, being big doesn’t mean continued and guaranteed success in this area. There is a very big niche for a credible, creative, cross-platform product that brings music and entertainment, visual and audible, straight to your pocket.

Money, money, money!

The second, is that dirty word – monetization.

The new owners – Specific Media – are an ad agency. And, as is the want of ad agencies today, they claim that they connect brands to consumers. Allowing brands to infiltrate the interface, to own the platform and believe that they owned the users was a major instigator of the myspace demise first time round at the hands of News International.

Facebook’s fear of brand and expression has seen them take the idea of control and turn it into restriction. So those tiny little Facebook ads are showing increasingly poor return for brands. And much worse; the most valuable younger, smarter demographic begin to see Facebook as an overbearing authority. And what do the young do in the face of authority?

Will an ad agency, more specifically an ad agency with Justin Timberlake as a partner -get it right where a multi-national media conglomerate got it wrong? The jury is still out.

One thing is sure. If you’re connecting creatives, then you need to do it well. We need stimulation, we demand credibility. Tumblr, Dribbble, Cargo, Indexhibit et al have in one way or another filled gaps for suitable outlets of self expression. Talenthouse does a job in enabling bands to harness opportunity and Grooveshark for music discovery.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was one slick, multi-platform service that did all of those things, that was incredibly simple to get on board with, was instantly populated with content and  – like the coolest of members clubs – was a space built for people like you?

Welcome back myspace.