A New Face For Myspace: Does the once-dead site have industry potential again?

October 1, 2012 by Matthew Colwell

A New Face For Myspace: Does the once-dead site have industry potential again?

From being the original king of the social web to resting in an early grave, Myspace was purchased by Chris and Tim Vanderhook in 2011 and is finally getting a much-needed facelift, which was intoduced in a  teaser video last week. The new design looks like the offspring of Pinterest and Windows 8, and has a focus on photo and video content with a horizontal-scrolling profile. Tim Vanderhook described the site to Hollywood Reporter as being "a social network for the creative community to connect to their fans.” Sounds like a band’s wet dream come true (again). As Facebook flounders through the Timeline redesign and struggles with a failing IPO under the pressure of shareholders, Myspace has the opportunity to take back the creative community that once made it the most visited social networking site in the world. But can a once-dead virtual city return to the living and recapture the needs of a new generation?

Social media strategist Jack Appleby, who works for the ad agency Ayzenberg Group, says that, since the announcement, the social industry has been whirling with interest. Whether or not the industry remains interested depends on whether or not Mysapce can draw people in. “The question is whether it will be relevant or not,” he says. “You can see from the login that is using Facebook and Twitter, which is a ‘Let’s see if we can steal their users’ thing. With a focus on music, if they’re going to rely on bands to bring their own music, [I think that’s a big mistake]. They should partner with a service like Spotify, which has been a huge success for Facebook.”

While Appleby mainly works in video games with Ayzenberg, he also helps run a small public relations firm with Founder Nate Sirotta called Impulse Artists, which represents bands like Culprit, My Mouth Is The Speaker and Late In The Playoffs. Having booked tours, worked with online media outlets and commanded a dozen-plus social accounts for bands of many sizes, Sirotta knows his way around a Facebook feed and marketing his acts. Sirotta is intrigued and welcome to trying the service again—“Just like I did with Google+”—but is less impressed by the overall tone that they’ve set as a music service. “Focusing on musicians is not a new concept,” he says. “I think if Myspace really wanted to break the mold, they would focus on [more] specific needs of the music industry.”

As my conversations with PR firms and label representatives continue, the overall tone is skeptical, but interested and welcoming. With such little information revealed at this point, very few seem to naysaying the comeback—which, to be fair, is a feat in itself considering the brand’s reputation—but a revolution seems unlikely. Mike Cubillos, who operates Earshot Media—which represents the rosters of Rise Records, Run For Cover Records, Topshelf Records and more—says he’s very open to a Myspace comeback. “As a publicist, I’m always open to and searching for new platforms to get our clients exposed to as many people as possible,” he says. Chuck Daley of Tiny Engines views the relaunch like any social media outlet: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Recounting the rise and fall and rise and fall of each website throughout the past decade, Daley sees them as worthwhile outlets, but says to “temper your expectations” and work on your own assets—like your own website. They may dip their toes in at some point, but Daley doesn’t view it as a priority in the long-term.

The social web has developed immensely since Myspace’s initial fall, and with new startups clamoring for similar relevance every day, it’s difficult to predict where on the totem pole the site can and will fall with a new vision. Everyone’s eyes are peeled and the press has been good, but if Google+ taught us anything, it’s that positive press and power users won’t launch you into the social stratosphere. If the initial launch is successful and shows a growing user base, this could be the beginning of a new era for the site, but if not, it’s back to the graveyard.

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