Some ignorant people’s assumptions that MySpace is as good as dead and buried could be way off the mark.
This month, MySpace announced a link-up with Facebook for artists to integrate their MySpace music into the Facebook band profiles they've all rushed off to create since Facebook upped its game in that area.
It's the latest in a long line of changes to MySpace that have made it less about bad design and second-rate perversion, and more about 'curation' and multimedia entertainment (just a slightly different way of wasting your time).
Despite its quick descent into becoming the worst thing on the internet, the thing MySpace was always quite useful for was sharing music, and that's the only reason it would have been a shame to lose it.
Every band has a MySpace profile - it’s up there in the constitution along with suggesting the name ‘Free Beer’.
Plus, MySpace music pages are at least consistent, unlike bands’ own websites, which are either made entirely in flash because it looks professional (it doesn’t, it’s like wearing all your best clothes at once) or they’ve been arranged with all the care and logic that throwing them against a wall would achieve.
For the first time in a few months I went back to MySpace for a look around, to find they really have latched onto the one thing they do well, and added extra functionality for bands and listeners - maybe they're even performing a miraculous u-turn. As a music-discovering tool at least - as a social network it's still pretty dead in the water.
If you, too, have been avoiding MySpace thanks to stories of sackings and imminent demise, you'll have missed the latest pop-out player, which has got to be worth the wages they saved. No more clicking off a page by accident and losing what you were listening to, and no more bookmarking everything to try and remember who did that song you listened to five profiles ago that you can't remember the name of and trying to retrace your wandering steps.
Little things please little minds, but this simple idea has made a huge difference to the user experience. The clever bit, for MySpace’s own ends, is that in order to listen to more than a few songs in full, you need to sign up. It’s still free, but now Murdoch has some information to sell.
Murdoch, of course, is the downside, but fair play to his code monkeys, they’ve done a good job for their evil overlord. It's more easily organised and customised, bands have access to stats, and there's a more magaziney feel.
MySpace’s recognition of their musical strengths could well be the saving of them. It's a democratic (Murdoch aside) platform that offers the same things to all bands - a place for people to find them and have a casual listen whether they're Guetta or a bedroom DJ.
Personally, I don’t want to wait until a band has got their shit together to get onto Spotify, and I don’t want Jeremy popping up to remind me I don’t have a summerhouse every four songs. Soundcloud is good, but it’s not pretty or intuitive enough at the moment, LastFM went a bit weird, and don’t even mention iTunes.
MySpace, if it appeared for the first time this year, might do quite well. As it stands, it might not matter how it develops as a site, it may be too late for it because it's been so widely dismissed as a social network. By online standards it's a dinosaur.
If you've not bothered with it for ages, go and give it a play, and let me know whether you think there's any hope for it.