From being one of the darlings of the Internet to being one of the most laughed about tech companies, not many good things have been said about this company. From first going from one of the hottest properties on the Internet to being a part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire and ultimately selling for cheap to Tim and Chris Vanderhook, the end looked grim for the struggling social network. Just like it’s predecessor, Friendster, MySpace appeared to be heading into the way of irrelevance (at least most people probably thought it was irrelevant already). Facebook was the king of the hill now and there wasn’t room for anyone else. But in the days since the Vanderhooks, young investors who brought in famed actor and musician/singer, Justin Timberlake, bought the struggling network from News Corp. for $35 million in 2011, things have slowly started to pick up steam–all for the better.
The New York Times’ Media Decoder section published a piece yesterday where they believe that, according to comScore data, the tide might be turning in favor of MySpace. Sure, the social network is practically bleeding users and losing site traffic practically every month, but according to comScore, monthly traffic to MySpace rose in January 2012 — a 4% increase from the previous month and the first increase in over a year. It still pales in comparison to its peak when the site received over 75 million unique visitors, but it seems somehow the Vanderhooks managed to put a temporary bandage on its wound. Chris Vanderhook, MySpace’s chief operating officer, says that they went from “zero signups per day to 40,000.”
But how can that be? What exactly is the site doing differently that would cause this massive amount of daily signups to occur? Mr. Vanderhook believes it’s because they’ve integrated with their competitor, Facebook, and also with Twitter. Oh, and not to mention that MySpace has one hell of a music library. The New York Times states that with MySpace having full licensing deals with thousands of record labels, as well as songs from numerous unsigned acts, there are over 42 million songs that can be played and shared–way more than what you would get on more regarded music services like Spotify and Rhapsody.
This new “focus” that MySpace has will probably be a big hit in their “revival”. I certainly don’t consider them prosperous (yet), but I think that they have stopped the moving ship and are now making the necessary course corrections. With an enormous music library at their disposal, the niche market that the Vanderhooks are carving out for themselves is smart. They’re definitely moving towards being the number one hub for all things music and entertainment–something that they tried out before a few years ago with their Secret Concerts, but didn’t really gain traction. It’s not smart to try and compete with Facebook at this point–but by being that hub of music and entertainment with your ties into other social networks like Facebook and Twitter (a-ha! The data sharing works both ways!) and even now on smart TVs through Panasonic, this will be a great effort to be back in the spotlight.
In its hey day, the brand MySpace was probably known best for being a social network–it was your place where you could customize it however you want and be friends with anyone you wanted, almost like it’s a rented apartment. Now, in 2012, with their new brand that was unveiled about two years ago, MySpace is now becoming known more for the “entertainment experience” where they want you to be able to share what content is out there that defines who you are–what do you like and what’s your personality.
Can MySpace pull a Rocky and come back to engrain itself into our minds as something that is significant? I think so–they’re doing some pretty good things with music and when I look at the new site (without signing in…I don’t think I remember my MySpace login), it reminds me almost of Pandora Radio with a hint of YouTube, Billboard.com, and Turntable.fm. It could be the best place to find things that you really enjoy.
That one million new users is a great start, but if you use Facebook as a benchmark (~580 million users), MySpace has a long way to go in order to strike it rich.