Have you visited your Myspace profile recently? Mine, untouched since 2007, shows me proudly holding a mini-vat of Scrumpy, while listing Beyoncé as one of my Top Friends.
Some things haven’t changed since then. I still haven’t moved on from hairy farmer’s apple juice, and B still doesn’t return my messages. But Myspace is about to undergo a radical change that might – you may wish to sit down for this – make it relevant to music fans again.
Yes, I know. Pfft to that. In 2012, Myspace is the fourth most popular social network behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with Google+ on course to overtake it soon too. Most of my friends can’t even remember their logins.
Myspace’s reign as top social networking dog was ended by Facebook, just as Myspace ended Friendster’s reign before it. It tried to hang on to its musical kudos with the launch of streaming service Myspace Music, but that was trumped by Spotify, Deezer and a newer breed of digital upstarts.
*NSYNC’s MySpace was last updated in 2010
Down the dumper, then? Seemingly not. Myspace is now under new ownership – advertising company Specific Media – complete with a new corporate figurehead in the form of Justin Timberlake. Yes, that one. It’s the partnership that launched a thousand ‘bringing Myspace’s Sexyback’ headlines.
But can he? Judge for yourself by watching the official teaser video that Timberlake tweeted earlier in the week. It’s a world away from the cluttered, buzzing-background hell you probably remember.
Judging by the video, the new Myspace is going to be a slick mash-up of pretty much every interesting social or music service in 2012, from Pinterest and Instagram to Vevo. As a brand new service from an unknown startup, it’d provoke awe. As it’s Myspace, it’s also generating a healthy degree of shock.
Myspace is never going to be the world’s biggest social network again. That Zuckerberg-shaped bird has well and truly flown, and Myspace’s new owners know it. They have a different strategy in mind.
It’s basically this: can Myspace become the world’s biggest – and coolest – music discovery site? Somewhere music fans go to find, listen to and chat about new songs and artists. That’s a more achievable goal.
Discovery is one of the bigger, gnarlier challenges facing the music industry in 2012, and it’s still a headache for even the keenest, earliest-adopting music listeners.
With tens of millions of songs available at the touch of a button – and that’s just the ones that are legally available – it can feel hugely daunting trying to capture the good stuff as it whizzes past your ears (or, more likely, potters about in a corner of the internet that you’re not even aware of).
We have blogs, DJs, recommendation algorithms, playlists, personalised radio streams, online video services, magazines, jam-my-this-ing websites, and direct tips from friends – still the most reliable source of ‘Wow! I’ve been looking for this band all my life!’ recommendations – but it often still feels like there’s amazing stuff hovering just out of reach.
‘Bring Menswe@r to London! Demand it”
If the new Myspace can help solve that problem, there’ll be plenty of people dusting off their old logins and updating their boozy profile pics.
But I’m projecting my own wishlist onto the teaser video there – it’s still possible that the new Myspace will just be a glossy-but-shallow way for Justin Timberlake to show me the sandwich he just had for lunch or promote his new single. Not good.
For now, a single video has done what seemed impossible. It’s got people talking about Myspace positively again. The sexy’s not back just yet, but the prospect of its return doesn’t seem far-fetched any more.