It’s Myspace,Tom, but not as you know it: ailing social network stages a comeback (video)

25 Sep 2012

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Before Google+, before Twitter, before Facebook, before Bebo, even, there was Myspace. For many, this widely popular social network was the original, making its fall from grace in Facebook’s dominating wake ever more tragic. Pop star Justin Timberlake already claims he brought sexy back – can he do the same for Myspace?

Move aside, Tom, because Myspace has a new face. It seems Timberlake is as keen to break into the social network business as the character he played in The Social Network (based on real-life tech entrepreneur Sean Parker) and as an investor in Myspace he is championing its relaunch, tweeting a teaser video for the revamped social network to his near-14m followers yesterday.

According to new.myspace.com, the team behind it is “hard at work building the new Myspace entirely from scratch.” The page promises that the social network will “[stay] true to our roots in one important way – empowering people to express themselves however they want. So whether you’re a musician, photographer, filmmaker, designer or just a dedicated fan, we’d love for you to be a part of our brand new community.”

Users can input their email address to request an invite to the service when it relaunches – but why should they?

First impressions

Having watched the video previewing the new Myspace, it looks like the network is pulling out all the stops to make its comeback successful. Like the new order of social networks, the new Myspace will emphasise the visual with a strong focus on images.

New Myspace screenshot

Overall, the preview of the site looks great, but delving deeper into the video we found plenty more to get excited about than aesthetics. As the original Myspace grew to become a place where new bands could find an audience (where would Arctic Monkeys be without it?), music became an integral part of the service and remains so with a built-in music player in a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.

This bar also includes a link to the new Myspace homepage, which features a stream of the activity happening on the network scrolling from left to right. There’s also a ‘Discover’ link that brings up trending stories (heavily focused on music news), people, songs, playlists, video, radio and events to explore.

New Myspace screenshot

Members will be able to create ‘Mixes’, or playlists, for their profiles and it looks like these can be coupled with a photo album, so the music from a party and the shots snapped there can all be shared together. Creating these mixes seems easy enough with users able to drag and drop songs from their feeds to any playlist.

New Myspace screenshot

Fan-focused

With its strong focus on music, the new Myspace seems to be targeting musicians themselves to become members. With Timberlake involved, it won’t be difficult to populate the network with willing celebrities, and this mix of music stars and fans sharing their content could be the key selling point of Myspace above other social networks.

New Myspace screenshot

A ‘Top Fans’ page shows a world map giving an overview of an artist’s fans, plus statistics, such as the fanbase’s average age and percentage of fans from a particular location or of a specific gender. There’s also a ‘most influential fan’ highlight, a spot that users may vie to find themselves in by promoting their favourite artist online – making the new Myspace a place for artists to build mutually beneficial relationships with fans.

User profiles

One thing that stood out to me on the new Myspace profiles is that the Top 8 is back, marking the return of the competition among friends to be ranked at the top. Only this time they’re not friends, they’re ‘connections’. This new Myspace vernacular is reflected in a Venn diagram-style icon that shows when users are connected. Users can also check their ‘affinity’ with their connection measured as a percentage based on shared taste in music, connections and activity on the network.

New Myspace screenshot

User profiles can also include a specially selected profile song and links for events, their music catalogue and one labelled ‘Shop’. This is not demoed in the teaser video but suggests that the new Myspace may have a revenue model based on more than just advertising – which has jaded users of Facebook.

Is Myspace back in the game?

The new Myspace teaser page shows a record playing on a turntable, denoting that this is a social network focused on entertainment. The challenge for the new Myspace will be to make sure that what they’re playing isn’t a broken record, rehashing what other networks are already doing (140-character posts, Pinterest-style image layouts) without offering anything new.

If what’s in the teaser video is definitely what’s on the table, then Myspace could be a contender once more in the social media sphere.

Watch, be visually pleased, and enjoy the wonderfully apt backing track from JJAMZ.

 

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com