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January 24, 2013

New Myspace: A Place For Brands?

Justin Timberlake, former child star and current partial owner of Myspace.

Everyone’s favorite social network from 2006 is back! In an attempt to claw its way back to relevance, the OG place for friends has been re-redesigned with a modern UI and a heavy focus on creating a social music experience. This should come as no surprise as last June it was purchased in part by singer/songwriter/actor/entrepreneur/Mouseketeer, Justin Timberlake (along with Specific Media Group), for $35 million. How serious is the focus on music? In an interview last September, Specific Media CEO, Tim Vanderhook told ABC News “There’s no point to compete with Facebook and Twitter”, instead suggesting the New Myspace will be to music what LinkedIn is to business.

Signing up for a regular user account is simple enough, with options to create a new account using Facebook, Twitter, or good old-fashioned email and password. You can also login using your “classic” Myspace credentials, however you’re going to have to start your profile from scratch, as New Myspace and Classic Myspace will be operating as two separate services. Weirdly enough, even with a staggered rollout and a focus on music, New Myspace does not offer musicians a way to create an artist page directly. If you’re a musician that wants in on New Myspace, you’ll first have to create a Classic Myspace account, then create a New Myspace account with your Classic Myspace login. From there you can choose what genre you fit into. There’s an obvious focus on entertainment, as the options range from Musician to Filmmaker to Promoter.  You can also identify as a venue or brand, however there are no dedicated brand pages as of yet, nor is it clear if or how your designation affects your profile. More on that later.

Pick a category... any category!

Once you finish creating your profile, you’re left with a relatively sparse page, which includes a small navigation menu, a music player that’s permanently affixed to the bottom of the page, and a few suggestions of who to connect with.  Gone are the days of a default friendship with Tom Anderson. In his stead are Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Beyonce, further driving home the idea that this is now a place for music. The music player, or Deck, as Myspace calls it, is a combination of Facebook’s top navigation bar, complete with messaging and notifications, and a SoundCloud like player, which allows you to set up a queue, create mixes and send songs to friends. Unlike the free version of Spotify, there are no commercials; however as Myspace evolves and needs to find ways to monetize, there’s a possibility that that will change.

In addition to the social listening features, you can connect to other users as well as individual pieces of content (the equivalent of a Facebook Like). Each of these social actions will show up on your own profile page. Unlike with Facebook Walls, users can only post updates and content to their own page. Posts are limited to text, songs and pictures, and each post is limited to 150 characters. As with Twitter, posting a link will count towards your total number of characters.

As for the new look, the UI is fresh enough, and a drastic change from the Myspace of yesteryear. What was once an auto-playing nightmare of blingees and duckfaced selfies is now a horizontal scrolling combination of Pinterest and Windows 8. Your Top 8 is still there, although now it’s more likely to be populated with your favorite musicians than your BFFs. You can also initiate a search just by starting to type, which is a nice touch, but I imagine once profiles become more populated, you’ll want to keep track of your cursor so you don’t accidentally respond to a post when you’re just trying to jam out to Chamillionaire.

To the left to the left, all of your navigation in a box to the left.

So, what does this new incarnation of Myspace have to offer brands? Nothing. The folks behind Myspace have opted to not include any kind of brand-specific functionality at launch. Even companies involved in the music industry (such as record labels and venues) don’t have a distinct place to live. This makes the previously mentioned ability to designate yourself as a brand or venue curious. Perhaps there’s a plan to add brand tools at a later date, but as of right now, unless you’re a musician, there is no way to differentiate yourself from a regular user.

Overall, while visually appealing and relatively easy to use, the exclusive focus on music, lack of brand tools and yet to be seen number of active users make the latest version of Myspace a question mark for brands at best and flat out unnecessary at worst.

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Celebrity, Myspace, Social Media, Social Network

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