By: Frances Du
I didn’t use MySpace when it came out in 2003, nearly a decade ago. Occasionally I stumbled upon it when I discovered a new indie band and wanted to hear song samples (this was before YouTube), but I never actually signed up for an account. Maybe because even as it was beginning to gain a massive following there was also a trashy, Jersey Shore-esque side to the site. Recounts of random hook-ups and pornography sharing made the site look confused and less focused on the main objective: discovering really awesome music. Plus, it just didn’t look visually appealing. It was no surprise when Myspace users found a new place to interact, on a little place called Facebook.
But now the relaunch has people talking. Justin Timberlake along with a group of investors are poised to completely revamp the site and are determined to direct its focus on being a digital media darling that will hopefully become the main place to “watch music videos, connect with artists and promote your art online.” And rather than trying to go up against the social media giants of today (Facebook and Twitter) they’re actually utilizing and integrating those platforms to promote their product. Users can connect to the site by logging on to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. They’ve also expanded their web presence on those respective sites. (@Myspace has already amassed over 220,000 followers and more than 1 million “Likes” on their Facebook page.) One of the owners, Tim Vanderhook, describes it as “a social network for the creative community to connect to their fans.”
I was skeptical until I actually had a chance to explore the site and happily discovered that yes, there is a lot to like about this new version of MySpace.
First off, it has great visual appeal. Upon entering the site my first reaction was that it was structured a lot like Pinterest with an emphasis on beautiful HD images over text. This crisp format makes it extremely user-friendly and easy to navigate.
And unlike its predecessor, The New Myspace doesn’t move at a plodding pace. Videos are uploaded and streamed quickly and even signing up for an account takes less than 60 seconds. You don’t even have to wait for a response when you “friend” an artist. On your personal profile you can make and share playlists, upload and view personal photos, and receive notifications about industry news and upcoming concert dates.
But those are just technical touches. A social media site can’t be successful unless it actually brings people together. When Ashwini Nadkarni and Stefan G. Hoffman from Boston University researched why people were becoming so addicted to social media sites like Facebook, they gathered data, which showed that people were motivated by the “fundamental desire to belong.” The need to connect and feel accepted by others is the driving force. And apparently the New Myspace has kept this point under consideration.
Like Facebook, there’s a “friend” button attached to an artist, but unlike Facebook, Myspace isn’t built on exclusivity. When you “friend” an artist there’s no awkward wait time when you angst about whether or not your invitation’s going to be accepted or not. Connections are automatically established at the click of a button. There’s less of a fluctuating social hierarchy. Once you’ve connected to your favorite artist, you’re able to keep track of their updates in case they put out new songs or are about to embark on a world tour, but the really cool part is you’ll also get to keep track of what your favorite artist is listening to. So, the next time you’re listening to a track and your friend asks you, “Who is this new folksy band?” You can nonchalantly say something along the lines of, “Oh this? This is ________. Rihanna introduced me to them.”
One feature that has been getting a lot of press attention (and it’s easy to see why) is the opportunity and possibility for fans to see their profile publicized on their favorite artist’s page as a #1 fan, which not only gives them bragging rights, but also a chance to be recognized by one of their favorite artists; it’s very similar to getting retweeted by your favorite celebrity. These personalized touches and virtual interactions might make Myspace a prominent platform among the social media landscape.
Although the official launch date hasn’t been announced just yet, music lovers should be excited that Myspace may bring sexy back to the social media stage.
About Frances Du
Frances Du is a freelance writer and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario. She’s an English teacher by day and a city explorer by night, but her goal is to travel all over the world before settling down in NYC. She blogs about twenty-something culture, ideas, and concerns at franny glass strikes back. You can follow her on Twitter @frannyglass22