Myspace is rising from the ashes…again. And if anyone can revive the original top social network, it just might be co-owner Justin Timberlake, with a little help from Facebook.
As the co-star of The Social Network well knows, back in 2005 MySpace (capital 'S') was the most popular social networking site in the world and sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for $580 million, but as Facebook and Twitter moved into the space, MySpace floundered and News Corp. ended up selling it at a half-a-billion-dollar loss to Specific Media and Timberlake for $35 million in June 2011.
Now it's teasing the next iteration at new.myspace.com and a teaser video that highlights its renewed focus as a social, visual and music hub. The brand overhaul borrows elements from Pinterest, Tumblr and About.me in a full-scale relaunch planned for the fourth quarter. The most striking visual change is a horizontally oriented user interface, coupled with the promise of an even more laser-focus on music and Facebook integration.
Users can connect to Myspace through Facebook, import personal information and photos from their profile and connect with Facebook friends who are on Myspace too, as well as share updates to Facebook and Twitter automatically. For musicians, there’s an analytics dashboard showing an artist’s top fans and a demographic breakdown.
Such features are why Entertainment Weekly is calling the New New Myspace "surprisingly awesome," commenting on the sneak preview: "Myspace 2.0 boasts a clean, modern interface that fuses the best of Google+ and Pinterest, displaying tons of content without seeming cluttered. It seems designed for tablet use, which could set it apart from its competition — if those sites weren’t also doing the same thing."
“Trying out a new haircut and revamping your wardrobe to try to win back a former lover who dumped you can be a bit sad. If it doesn’t work, trying it again with yet another new look is full-on tragic,” writes Tech.Blorge.com. “That’s the position MySpace finds itself in today as it makes one more attempt to regain the audience that has long since moved on, leaving the site as the place crappy bands go to be ignored.”
The pioneering brand lost its mojo as others, more nimble, leapfrogged their trailblazing — inevitable, perhaps, in a highly wired, fiercely social and competitive landscape that is the shared space of the social web. But with Timberlake as part of the new ownership team, they're not giving up.
In its 10-year history the troubled brand has gone through two prior attempts at redesign and positioning with Specific Media selling the site as the #1 online community music destination and even the “Hulu of music.” And before that, in 2010, then-CEO Mike Jones promised a social entertainment site for Gen Y.
Music and media analyst Mark Mulligan commented to the BBC that the looming relaunch is the "deepest" yet: "At its peak, MySpace was a trailblazer for bringing together fans and artists but it faces stiff competition from sites such as TopSpin and Pledge Music which offer artists tools to establish relationships with fans. It can't just do what they used to do even if they do it better.”
About 54 million people still visit the site, but it’s a steep decline from its 2006 peak where in a single month it was the most visited website in the U.S. with hundreds of millions of users.
A key question remains: who, exactly, does Myspace want in their space?