Here’s what popped up on my Twitter feed that got me curious:
“What happened, Internet? I’m seeing the words ‘awesome’ and ‘Myspace’ together.”
I double checked and confirmed that it is in fact 2012, and then went into research mode to investigate. I found this video, which does reveal the former king of social networking sites has undergone an impressive and attractive makeover. Apparently the glittery gifs and bright pink backgrounds and Comic Sans that defined the old Myspace are gone, replaced by a sleek design that appears to be very user friendly. But then I discovered the new focus of the site, which is why I am discussing these developments here. The new MySpace aims to be primarily a social medium for artists.
First, some background on how we got here.
MySpace was initially sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005 for $580 million. After that time, the site so popular that it was occasionally ahead of Google as the most visited website in the United States. But as the popularity of Facebook grew, the appeal of MySpace declined drastically. By the time the company was sold again last year, the new buyers only had to fork over an estimated $35 million.
And those new buyers brings us to where we are today. Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake bought the company in June 2011, and the nation laughed at them. (I’m assuming the nation laughed – I definitely did.) Since that time, things have been relatively quiet on the MySpace front – until recently, that is.
Justin Timberlake appeared alongside Specific Media’s Chris and Tim Vanderhook in Los Angeles to unveil the new look at goals of the company. Tim Vanderhook explains how the social network will work for artists (from Billboard).
“In a single sentence, it’s a social network for the creative community to connect to their fans,” he said. “We’re going after artists, right after this we’ll be talking to various artists to come on the platform. We want to give them a chance to help build it with us. We’re really far along, but we really want that last 20 percent to really be crated by more people like Justin that actually know the tools and things that they need.”
Which explains why Timberlake is involved in the first place. Timberlake spoke about why today’s artists belong to a generation that are forced to use social media as a marketing tool.
“I come from that, no question,” Timberlake said. “But with every obstacle comes an opportunity and I see this, as it speaks to somebody like me, as bridging the gap. It’s just bringing the connection that much closer while still making the artist feel comfortable that they can make their art, lock themselves in a room and torture themselves as they do, and still find a way to comfortably connect with their fan base.”
The three owners wouldn’t reveal what artists would be involved in helping relaunch the service, but we will probably find out soon. By 2009, MySpace had become a great place to find and listen to new music, but at that time the mass exodus to Facebook already was taking place so few seemed to notice. Hopefully the new focus will continue where it left off back then.