The monumental Myspace cock-up

Published 04 February 2011

How do you take a globally successful, popular and trendy site and turn it into an empty shell and laughing stock? The answer: sell it to a big media multinational.

I remember when Myspace was trendy with that impossible-to-reach youth market. You know the one advertisers are always clambering over one another to reach.

It listed all bands big and small and allowed them to communicate directly with their fans. There were gig listings, free song downloads, pics, videos, forums and more.
And it was a great place for people to fulfil that basic human desire to communicate with one another. Sure it was butt-ugly, but that was part of it’s charm.

Any idiot could set up a Myspace page, and many did. It allowed people to uniquely express themselves through their page in a way which Facebook cannot rival.

It even beat Facebook to market, incorporated elements of Last.fm, Youtube and Flickr. It was the recipe for massive success.

I guess that’s what Murdoch saw when he bought it in 2005 for over half a billion dollars.

And yet somehow they managed to destroy virtually all value in the business. It seemed like all the hard work was done, they could sit back and ride the social networking wave.

Opportunity Squandered

All the elements for the perfect storm of online success were there and somehow all that value was destroyed in a few short years. News Corp has just written off $275,000,000 of Myspace, or half it’s original purchase price.
And half it’s workforce have been sacked too, I imagine morale in the once uber-hip social networking site must now be at an all time low. Where do they have to go from here?

Well News Corp is now selling Myspace and will probably struggle to get half what they paid for it 6 years ago.
All is not lost, here is an opportunity for a youth- and tech-savvy company to step in and turn it’s fortunes around.

The fundamentals haven’t changed. Millions of music fans around the world are constantly seeking information, pics, videos, music and gossip on their favourite bands. I know I do every day.
And people still need to communicate. Even if it’s the inane chit-chat which fills up Facebook’s database. People still love seeing each other in pics and videos too, organise parties and events, tweet and be tweeted.

What Myspace lacks is the interconnectivity to other sites which constantly drive people to Twitter and Facebook. How often do you see the “Like” link all over the internet now? Every time you do it’s driving awareness and ultimately traffic to Facebook.

So Myspace just needs to define what it is. There’s definitely a niche for band information, combined with individual information. Fans want to talk to their idols, and idols want to reach their fanbase. Twitter isn’t quite the right fit for that, but it’s close.

What if an artist promoted all their material solely through Myspace? If you’re News Corp surely you can just buy Lady Gaga and have her promote all her new material through the site. Why not make it a tool for new bands to self-promote and spread awareness. All the tools are in place for this to happen but the execution has been poor.

MyTunes

It missed a trick by not foreseeing the epic popularity of iTunes. If a music website owned by a media company could not build a system for fans to buy music, then the management are asleep at the wheel. But it’s not too late, there’s room enough on this internet for an iTunes copycat.

And why stop at music tracks? Why not concert tickets and merchandise? That’s where all the money is going now as CD sales dwindle to nothing.

I look forward to seeing what becomes of the once mighty social networking king. There is truly a place for it to be massive and awesome with the right leadership and vision.