From one of the most successful social networks of the last decade, Myspace is again trying again to reclaim former glories with a new re-design. Following an injection of $35 million from musician and actor Justin Timberlake, Myspace hoped to re-launch the social media network as an entirely new platform.
And on midnight of January 13th Myspace launched its new open beta site. Unfortunately for Myspace, Facebook announced their new Graph Search feature just a day or so later; stealing its thunder and all media coverage of the rebirth.
The timing could well be one of the greatest blunders made by a social networking site this decade.
Even before the launch the cards weren’t exactly stacked in Myspace’s favour, as although traffic rose to the site by 36% in 2012, the total revenue for the company last year stood at only $15 million; meaning that the company operated at a total loss of $43 million.
But is Myspace even competing against Facebook?
Speaking at the SLS Hotel in November, Justin Timberlake said:
“We never looked at this as some sort of rebranding or reinvention. This was for us a completely new platform. The name was acquired but I think that was a good thing for us.”
The truth is that Myspace is no longer in competition with Facebook. Although most will certainly pit the two against one another, perhaps with the intention of jabbing the knife into the former, Myspace is in fact trying to compete with music streaming and sharing services such as Spotify – the largest commercial music streaming service on the planet.
Experts estimate that are a total of 50 million songs available on the new platform, compared with 15 million on Spotify. Despite this it is not known how many of the songs found on the new Myspace are from unsigned artists.
Music has of course always been a major part of the Myspace experience, with both users and artists able to mix among one another and share music on their personal profiles.
It could be said that at some point or another Myspace even had some reckoning within the music industry itself, having helped unsigned bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and Lilly Allen find their feet.
Sebastian Salek of The Independent said:
“It’s worth remembering that, after all these years, the site that made the Arctic Monkeys is still bigger than both Google+ and Tumblr. There’s no reason why the new Myspace can’t take advantage of this traction.”
At the same time however, not everyone is impressed. Though sleek designs, ‘sexy’ imagery and the promise of a great plethora of apps to play with are on offer, many people on the web see through the initial launch publicity. Online Magazine Gizmodo said that:
“The sad thing is that the New Myspace is just not fun to use. There’s no reason to use it anyway. It’s a cobbling-together things that don’t belong together but have been roped into being neighbors. Is it a social network? Not really, and if so, it’s a bad one.”
But how have things gone since the re-launch?
To put it simply: not very well.
After just over twenty days of floating around in limbo, the site has been accused of using thousands of tracks without permission – many from independent labels.
A group known as Merlin, who represent these independent labels claim that they no longer hold a contract with Myspace, despite much of their members’ content being made available through the site.
Charles Caldas, Chief Executive of Merlin said that:
“While it’s nice that Mr. Timberlake is launching his service on this platform, and acting as an advocate for the platform,” Mr. Caldas said, “on the other hand his peers as artists are being exploited without permission and not getting remuneration for it.”
Myspace however claims that any remaining music will have been uploaded by users and will be taken down upon request by Merlin.
Illegal music aside, the site as noted by Bloomberg Businessweek, is also missing one crucial element – advertisements.
Speaking via email to Bloomberg, Neda Azarfar, a spokesman for the site said that:
“It’s important to note, however, that you’ll never (ever) see the same old blinking banner ads that plagued the classic Myspace site,” she writes. “Design leads with the new Myspace, and advertisers will fit into the look and feel of the site in every way.”
And the new Myspace actually did receive positive reviews for both its style and usability. But is that enough to attract the big brands?
Sloan Broderick, head of MediaCom Beyond Advertising said:
“There are a lot of things they have to do to build audience in order for it to be attractive for a brand to be there. But they are thinking about design in terms of big, bold, beautiful imagery and video.”
Will it survive 2013?
In reality, the revenue required to keep the new Myspace afloat outweighs the potential profit that it can produce in the first year.
The fact that eMarketer (a major market research company) stopped tracking Myspace’s ad revenue due to poor returns last year, means that the tide may have turned on the website before it even launched.
It seems that even in its third incarnation, this former social media giant can’t outrun its destiny.