Myspace? What could possibly done to make Myspace cool again? Brothers Chris and Tim Vanderhook (Myspace’s COO and CEO, respectively) have taken on that challenge, alongside creative partner Justin Timberlake, and they may just have succeeded. I took the sleek, new social media site for a test drive yesterday, along with some other journalists at a Beverly Hills hotel. I went into it with zero expectations – I long ago deleted my Myspace account in favor of Tumblr/Twitter/Instagram and an on-again off-again relationship with Facebook. But the Myspace team has reinvented the site as a place for music artists (and eventually artists of all platforms) and lovers to connect, share and curate. Visually it’s absolutely gorgeous, like a sleek, exclusive boutique hotel filled with unnaturally attractive people. Still, it’s not without its kinks – the horizontal scroll takes a bit to get used to, and navigating the site is not entirely intuitive. But it’s got a ton of promise, and there’s not a picture of Tom in sight. Here are 5 more things that might surprise you about the site.
1. It’s new, but nostalgia still reigns. Missing your Top 8? How about a profile song? Myspace is betting on you having fond memories for some of the most distinct features of their former site and they’re back, for better or worse. You better believe I spent way too much time agonizing about my new profile song (currently Jurassic 5‘s “Concrete Schoolyard”).
2. They make it very easy to get sucked into a music wormhole. I played around a bit on the site at home and found I spent almost an hour exploring new music, checking out new artists and re-discovering songs I forgot I loved. The navigation makes it easy to click around until you’ve somehow gone from The Pharcyde to the Grateful Dead to Miguel and you have no idea how you ended up there.
3. New features like Mixes turn both users and artists into curators, where one can share musical playlists as well as images (on example we were shown – 90 Songs from the 90s, with 90 photos from…the 90s). It’s a multi-media way to create viral, meme-ish lists, and it appeals to both eyes and ears.
4. Artists are in control. Timberlake told our small press group that he wants the site to really be “built for artists, by artists.” It’s a space for “self-expression,” says the Myspace team. We’d argue that the whole existence of the internet is solely for that purpose, for better or for worse. But Myspace seems to be targeting the highbrow section of the web (this exists, maybe?) to offer up serious content and conversation directly from the artists to their audience. The artists seem game, but will the fans bite?
5. “Top Fans” puts some of the power in the audience’s hands. Through Myspace’s “analytics” (this term was thrown around a lot but we got no real deets on what it means) the site establishes Top Fans for artists – people who are ambassadors for a specific artist or band. The focus is not just quantity (think, someone who tweets all the time) but quality, and the idea is that a reciprocal relationship between artist and Top Fans forms, where they can share ideas, feedback and of course, music.
So…The new Myspace is incredibly gorgeous, and might just have something new to offer artists. It’s like Pinterest for music, with a little bit of Spotify and Vevo thrown in for good measure. What remains to be seen is how people will use it. Ultimately the user always shapes the product (The Walkman wasn’t originally intended to be used with headphones, ya know?), so the future of the new Myspace is really up to us. Meet ya there?