Myspace: Will A Rebrand Revitalize The Sleepy Giant?

October 12, 2012

I’ve found myself hearing more and more about Myspace (yes, a lower case ‘s’) in the past few weeks. The grandfather of social media is back in the game with “a social network for the creative community,” including the one and only Justin Timberlake having a stake in the revamped network.

Last week, Timberlake and Myspace founders, Tim and Chris Vanderhook, released a video highlighting Myspace’s sleek new look and functionality.

The Vanderhooks felt the music industry was being under-served by social networks. They saw it as a “huge gap in the marketplace. None of the social platforms that were out there were really servicing the artists’ needs (Fast Company interview).”

However, 14 months later, the social landscape (as it relates to music) has changed. The introduction of Spotify, proliferation of SoundCloud as a format, the relationship between Google and YouTube, and more, have melded together to satisfy consumer and musician needs across a variety of platforms — making it harder for Myspace to carve out a role.

The video sharing network is highly visible due to integration with Google’s search engine. Search for band name and you’ll likely wind up with an official website, Wikipedia article and slew of YouTtube videos at your fingertips. The ability to capture eyeballs and draw people in makes YouTube a serious contender for music behemoths and their advertising budget, which I’m sure Myspace would like a piece of. While the social media grandfather does rank highly in Google search, the lack of visuals makes Myspace unlikely to have power over YouTube’s video library.

A taste of the Myspace layout – with a nice glimpse of JT

How Myspace can compete – YouTube’s platform is in need of a serious upgrade. The layout is clunky and outdated. And let’s be honest, it’s hard to find exactly what I’m looking for with all the indexed user-generated videos. The revamped layout of Myspace is user-friendly, easy to search and visually appealing. The Vanderhooks could take positioning a step further and strengthen consumer association and usage by setting up Myspace as a music hub, a search engine of sorts.

One of my lovely colleagues also suggested Myspace could partner with music labels to do exclusive track and music video releases, on top of other marketing opportunities. Could be a great tool to draw in users’ and connect musicians with their fan base. But, there would need to be evidence of a large fan base and some deep pockets willing to take a chance on the “new” network. Also, wouldn’t hurt to build a visual presence in Google search and other search engines – but whether that’s reality is a whole other story.

(Side note: I do pay for a Spotify subscription and am a Spotify die-hard. It’s worth every penny and has changed the way I listen to and buy music.)

Spotify may be the biggest competitor in the music category. Users have a massive catalog at their fingertips and can easily search music, build playlists, stream on mobile devices and engage with brand content. There’s also some incentive for musicians as Spotify pays artists a small fee per play. If I’m a musician, why do I care about putting my music on Myspace? Is it an easy way to reach fans and ears? Are the critics there? Any royalty fees paid to artists? The world of music streaming is definitely in flux, but I don’t feel I can confidently say “yes” next to any of those questions. Granted, the rebrand will work to position Myspace as an authority in the latest music for fans and musicians – but they have some big competition that continues to maintain a stronghold in the market.

Could Myspace affect the readership of popular music blogs? If there’s original content, the “new” network becomes a serious contender in the world of music news.

How Myspace can compete – Spotify has a pretty terrible radio/shuffle service and struggles in terms of exploration. If I’m looking for something new, or an up-and-coming artist, I’ll usually peruse my go-to music blogs and then check out the tunes on Spotify.

If Myspace can build a valuable and robust music exploration experience through news, featured musicians’ playlists, artists of the week, it could steal some of Spotify’s thunder. But, that means original content and lots of it. Myspace has a (seemingly) serious bank account behind the social network, which could be wielded to land serious writing talent in the music industry. (Nitsue Abebe, anyone?)

Could Myspace come in and create a centralized hub for music lovers and creative-types around the U.S.? Sure. But we saw the same story with Google Plus — creating a platform where everyone’s interests, news, mail and social networks could thrive in one place — except they didn’t.

Does the general social media user enjoy ways to have all their information in one place? Probably. Will Myspace change consumer behavior and draw people (and brands) to visit and consistently use the “new” social network? Not likely.

What do you think: Where does Myspace fit into our growing social media network and will you use it? What would Myspace replace for you?