Am I the only one out there who is still using MySpace? It sure seems so from some of the coverage of late. Over the last few weeks, I’ve read nothing but doom and gloom about the social networking service …
Am I the only one out there who is still using MySpace? It sure seems so from some of the coverage of late. Over the last few weeks, I’ve read nothing but doom and gloom about the social networking service which cost Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation some $580 million in 2005. Most of the analysis revolves around how social networking rivals like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have overtaken MySpace in terms of number of users, visitors, time spent on the site and, most of all, fashionability.
Yet MySpace continues to exert a huge influence over one constituency which recent arrivals to the social networking sphere haven’t quite captured: the music-making community. When I come across a new band, I’ll head straight away to their MySpace site to hear the tunes. Not the band’s own site or LastFM or Spotify, but the band’s MySpace site. Click on the site and the player starts spinning immediately. Within 30 seconds, you know what the band sound like. Within a minute, you’ll know if you want to hear more. I’d say about half of the acts I cover in the New Music column in The Ticket (especially the Irish ones, strangely enough) are found via MySpace. Life would have been a whole lot easier if MySpace had existed back when I was talent-scouting for labels and publishers for a living.
I know I’m not alone in this regard. For instance, the 12 Points new jazz fest in Dublin is usually booked every year via MySpace and Bodytonic have used MySpace to find and book acts for their club nights in the past. As a music resource – especially in terms of finding and hearing new acts – nothing else comes close. Despite some criticisms about its design and layout, I’ve always found it damn easy to use compared with various MySpace wannabes which have been touted. And unlike those wannabes, every single band on the planet is on MySpace waiting for you. Well, bar Prinzhorn Dance School.
But as so many others hawking new models for the music business have found out, it’s hard to turn what is essentially a free service into turnover and profit. As that Guardian report above points out, MySpace’s ad deal with Google ends next year and this will halve the site’s revenue. There have been management changes and lay-offs already as the hatches are battened down. We’ll probably know within a year or so if Murdoch is prepared to continue propping up the site or if will he cut his losses and move on.
You can bet, though, that if the site is shuttered or downsized, an alternative MySpace network will be up and running within months. None of the other social networking sites provide what MySpace is providing, hence why it continues to be the go-to site for music. But in the absence of MySpace, a brand new destination may well work. And you can expect that new-TwitterFaceInBebo-kid on-the-block to be the site everyone else will want to befriend for at least 12 months.