Monday, November 19, 2012

MySpace have a plan

MySpace is the Rye of social networks, the thriving port whose harbour long since silted up and no longer sees the boats coming. But it has a plan; it's about to relaunch again, and to focus on music, again. And it has Justin Timberlake onboard, hoping that nobody will point out that he was buzzy before Tom was friending everyone.

Why the focus on Timberlake? Even if he was an example of the smaller band trying to build a fanbase who MySpace hope to attract, everyone knows he's sunk a wedge of cash into the project. Every time he goes "it's great", the audience thinks "you're flogging me your product" rather than "that's an independent review."

MySpace think they have something to offer in 2012, as MusicAlly reports:

“The promise of discovery and sharing new, good music was never really fulfilled by other services out there,” Tim tells The Guardian, while flagging up its streaming catalogue of 42m tracks from major, indie and unsigned artists.

Analytics to help make sense of fanbases will be a key part of Myspace’s pitch to woo back those artists (and management/labels).

“Artists are really tired of sending their fans over to one platform to listen to music, another to watch a social stream, and others watch videos, buy merchandise or purchase tickets,” says Tim. “They really are just looking for a home, and we try to be that for artists.”
Are artists really tired of that? And even if they were, couldn't they embed videos and purchase boxes into Facebook?

Isn't the fundamental problem here that MySpace are saying 'artists are tired to maintaining several sites, so we're going to help by introducing another site they have to maintain'?

And while wonderful analytics are a great thing to offer, they're bugger all use if there's no audience on the site to analyse.

Ah! But MySpace have a plan:
The new Myspace will be opening up in beta to more users, who’ll then be able to invite some friends (aka The Gmail Launch Strategy). Journalists are in already.
The trouble with trying to sell MySpace like Gmail is that when Google launched its mail service, it was brand new, and shiny. Everyone was excited and desperate to be let in.

Who is desperate to see what the new MySpace looks like?

Are there any 'opinion formers' who would really want to risk ridicule by sliding over to their friends offering secret passes to MySpace?

More to the point, what drives social platforms is numbers. Why would anyone spend time crafting a new MySpace site if it can only be accessed by a chosen few? And if people don't build sites, what will be there when the doors are opened to all?

More importantly, building a secret MySpace behind a big wall and only letting in a few journalists isn't really cherishing those few MySpace users who have kept faith with the site while the rest of the world has gone elsewhere. Not only are you telling them that they've been wasting their time on a wrong site; not only are you destroying their neighbourhood; but you're leaving them entirely locked out of the process.

In design terms, the rollout plan is as garish as any of those flashing colour-clashed pages that marked out MySpace back when it was famous.