The Death Of Myspace And How To Save It.

Hypebot just ran a story about Myspace Losing 66% Of Their International Staff, Including the possibility of scrapping most of their world offices (including the one in India, but not China as that’s a separate company).
Here’s the comment I posted:
Myspace lost it when they refused to update their design, to open up the data that artists had put on there to sharing, and didn’t bother trying to understand the changes in the nature of social networking that happened while they were spending their time shouting about being the biggest.

Myspace pages now look like Geocities pages – a sign of a naive time in the web’s recent past.

How to fix it?

  • Make the music player, gig dates and blog headlines embeddable,

  • make friend/follow asymmetric with easier ways to share music (maybe a ‘top 10 most recent bands I’ve dug’ plugin, with a ‘like this’ button on every artist page to feed it?),

  • allow blogs to be auto-update via RSS feed,

  • sort out the basic design disasters (include a proper design editor as standard ALREADY!!!)

  • make hooking up Twitter to the status a cinch,

  • oh and do a deal with BandCamp to make it possible to replace the music player with a bandcamp embed…

Basically, use some of those Murdoch millions to incorporate the best bits of reverb nation, last.fm, facebook and twitter. Or, alternatively, disappear. The choice is theirs 😉

What say you? Have Myspace left it too late? What do they need to do?

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

  1. Really good thoughts. There is still a place for MS, at least for musicians (I don’t think there’s any saving it as a purely social tool, which is just fine). Bookers that I’ve talked to love that they can open up 10 artist’s MS pages and easily sample the music from each, rather than digging through websites.

    The technical suggestions above are SO EASY that I can’t believe they haven’t already been incorporated. The design thing, especially, is ridiculous. A few checkboxes for users to choose background and text color, font, and header image would go a very long way. The music player could be improved too – they should check out what Bandcamp uses as an example of a quickly loading player.

  2. MySpace left it too late. Facebook is a good contrast: Myspace does two or three things well for music, but does a million things terribly wrong. It’s buggy, slow, poorly designed, a pair to use, etc. Facebook does lots of things right, but isn’t the best for music at this point, but I’m imagining it will catch up. I login to MySpace for messages once a month or so (never anything important there) and I update shows via ArtistData (so I don’t have to interact with MySpace!), in case anyone happens upon the site. We’ve posted news/blogs that say “We’re not here – visit our website!” because we want to drive traffic to our site – not MySpace’s! We never give out the MySpace url – it screams bad taste and unprofessionalism. If MySpace were to be gone tomorrow, we would be more than alright with that. The only reason we keep it around is to occasionally look up other bands when booking, or to find other bands that only have a MySpace account and no proper page!

    1. I agree… if MySpace disappeared overnight, I’d join the ranks of those not missing it (and those hoping that the mass of promoters, etc, for whom MySpace === essential band website, would jump to something smarter, like Reverbnation). I maintain a (limited) MySpace presence only because it is de rigeur and would be happy to give up that chore.

  3. Murdoch isn’t exactly someone who is known for leaving money on the table. He wants 100% control over what things cost and over the consumers who want those things. While your plan would likely work, it might be easier at this point to simply let Myspace die and move on to better ideas.

  4. The issue here is timing. MySpace was doing well from launch in August 2003 until it was bought for US$580 million by News Corp in July 2005. At that time, the design and functionality innovations that characterised its prior development were massively curtailed, and instead the focus of the business shifted to ‘monetisation’ and ad sales, as well as regional specialisation (including the launch of a myspace.co.uk site). Importantly, that regional specialisation was designed to enable regional ad sales and news delivery, supporting News Corp’s other investments.

    Between July 2005 and December 2008, the ‘design disasters’ to which you refer were effectively overcome with the launch of more standardised (and design-restrictive) platforms such as Facebook (fully opened in September 2006) and Bebo (established in January 2005). Further, the embedding of RSS feeds and other update applications like twitter didn’t start to happen to mainstream social media platforms until APIs and modular applications were released to support that functionality (and this didn’t happen properly till 2007).

    Thus the very 3 year period in which the design and functional elements that make social media sites usable began to emerge, MySpace was busy making the platform into a revenue generation initiative. And in all fairness, their revenue generation over that period has been substantial, although not as substantial as it would like.

    I’m not commenting here to suggest that MySpace were right or wrong to focus on monetisation – I think I’ve made my point many times over that social networking sites shouldn’t be regarded as electronic billboards, because that misses the point of the engagements online – but I can see *why* it’s happened. From a business perspective, the fact that they are now losing 25% of all staff is probably a sensible choice. If you’re spending too much money on staff to justify the returns you are getting then it’s a logical choice. The question, though, is whether the revenue they are generating now will be increased, flat or reduced by spending what’s required to improve MySpace design, and to roll that out among their millions of users. From a purely business perspective, the costs of deploying those improvements may not be worth the return on ‘business’ (eyeballs on the site pages, and click thrus to content).

    This is where MySpace is *really* going wrong IMHO. Instead of using the platform to generate new revenues (micropayments for music downloads, donation systems and subscription-oriented dynamic music jamming and creation utilities), they are locked into ad sales as their only source of revenue. To make a social networking site massively profitable, you need one which is designed well, but doesn’t give too much freedom to the user, one which enhances connections, conversations and support of user generated content, and you need one which generates revenue from valued content exchanges, not advertising. You don’t need regional site development, you need to support what your users *do* not where they *are*.

    It’s actually a pretty simple formula. Shame that no-one is actually *doing it*.

    1. Joanne,

      thanks so much for the assessment – really astute observations about the enourmous difference of understanding between what Myspace’s users think it’s for, and what Murdoch wants from it.

      There was a lot of talk at the time when News Corps bought it that it was their land grab for some space within the emerging web-world, something they were miles behind on, and given the position that Myspace occupied at the time, the initial purchase was pretty shrewd.

      Subsequent events and the total lack of development, progressive thinking or innovation in the area of monetization perhaps proves that thesis – that News Corps had no idea what they were doing with it, or even what it was, they just needed something to put them in the conversation with Google/Yahoo/AOL/etc.

      Myspace certainly continued to grow into the Murdoch era, but it was as much the momentum of new bands and late adoptors seeing it as a place they *had* to be because everyone else was there, not because of a an growth in the perception of them as a ‘cool’ place. Ubiquity has a powerful gravitational pull.

      In terms of your rules for making a social networking site profitable, Myspace made it too easy to see friend numbers as the only valuable currency for musicians with no imagination in marketing. Contrast myspace with twitter, where on twitter you have a strict metric evaluation of how many people have bothered to click the button to listen to you, who have opted to have whatever you put out appear in their feed. On myspace, friend-added carried no such social implication. You were merely added to a list of faceless “friends”, with no further record of who added who, who is a ‘fan’ of who, and whether or not any interaction has taken place.

      (which makes me think that some way of showing a public myspace relationship history would be cool – so by clicking on the relationship button between, say, me and Simon Little, you’d see a list that showed that I’d commented on his pictures, he’d posted something on my wall, favourited my tunes, and I’d embedded his songs on my profile… Social DNA, that carries with it a record of the level of interaction the direction of any artistic endorsement that might be taking place…

      For a site driven by advertising, surely the advantage of making the site work is that people will find more useful things to do with it, click on more pages, see more ads, but also build up a public record of who and what they like that could be used to target ads more accurately.

      But if you’re going to do an ad-funded site, for eff’s sake do a premium paid version where we can opt out!

      Thanks Jo, I love your insight on these things, really appreciate you taking the time 🙂

  5. Social networks seem to have there own natural timespan. Like any fashionable place really. Myspace had its time and i never would heard Steve’s music without it. For that and loads of other cool stuff i heard there it was great. However social networks now are about real time interaction and myspace can’t keep up.(especially keeping an eye on what google are doing)

  6. I wish somebody at MySpace would take a look at this post and get to work implementing your points!
    I wrote a rather lengthy post on my blog on this very subject last October (http://simonlittlebass.blogspot.com/2008/10/is-myspace-finally-dead-in-water.html) after an utterly infuriating evening trying to upload some new music. My MySpace profile is now covered with embeddable widgets from Reverbnation and my Podcast page, because at least I know these will auto-update without me having to trudge through MySpace’s own clunky interface.
    Your points about integrating Twitter and RSS blog updates have been bothering me for months now. I stopped using the MySpace blog such a long time ago. Even last.fm has more scope for importing content from other sites… Surely these are just small changes that could be put into action in an instant?!
    Truly, I think it’s time we all switched to the more user-friendly and interactive sites and leave MySpace to fester where it is… I have.

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