Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Anyone for a new music social networking site?

All things eventually come to an end, though the death throes for MySpace may go on for quite some time yet. No doubt, though, with staff lay-offs and rumours galore about a sell-off, the one-time social networking giant is headed …

Mon, Jan 31, 2011, 10:25

   

All things eventually come to an end, though the death throes for MySpace may go on for quite some time yet. No doubt, though, with staff lay-offs and rumours galore about a sell-off, the one-time social networking giant is headed for the exit.

It had a very good innings, especially if you were one of the site’s founders who trousered the $580 million News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch paid to get his mitts on the site in 2005. Rupe may be the leading Voldemort of the media world, but his MySpace play hasn’t really been one which has been highlighted all that often in News Corp’s annual report. As Facebook (over 500 million users and rising) and Twitter (over 200 million users and rising, though its media profile would lead you to think that number is much higher) have came, saw and conquered the social networking world, MySpace has slipped back into the pack. It’s not quite Bebo, but it sure as hell appears to be heading in that direction.

But MySpace still has users – and active ones at that. The music-making community who first colonised MySpace are still there and are still updating their pages with gig details, flyers, new music and occasional blogs. If you want to find a website for a band, chances are their MySpace page will be in the top five or six search results. As I know from writing about new bands every week, the vast majority of newbies still use MySpace when they can’t afford a site of their own. It’s a network which has form, a (very clunky but) recognisable layout and is open to all (no need for logins as is often the case with many Facebook pages).

So while the accepted wisdom is that MySpace is dying, it’s still a site which is still getting traction from musicians despite the huge spike in popularity for sites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud and, in Ireland, Breaking Tunes. Musicians may also be utilising Twitter and Facebook in huge numbers – “utilising” being spam-tweeting about upcoming gigs to everyone with an @ – but music is largely a bolt-on to these services and is not the main selling point. Hence, why they keep coming back to MySpace.

All of which makes you wonder if there is any demand for a standalone music networking site, a site which is basically MySpace without the rubbish design and clunky user interface. Someone like Kevin Leftar would argue that a music social networking site just will not succeed because fans are less interested than we think in such a thing. He’s got a point: while there was much play at the outset about the bogus notion that labels were attracted to bands with thousands of MySpace friends (not forgetting either the Arctic Monkeys’ bull about how MySpace “broke” the band), the site these days is more B2B (band to band looking for gigs and links) than B2C (band to consumer).

Yet as MySpace begins to recede and start the shut down process, there are still several new plays like Roostie, plays which look like MySpace and sound like MySpace (but, unlike a quacking duck, claim not to want to be MySpace), coming to the boil. Whether these will even survive the year remains to be seen, but there is money and time being invested nonetheless. And while we write this obit for MySpace, it’s still obviously making some advertising cash, though not enough to recoup News Corp’s investment and subsequent spend (hey, Rupe wanted to be down with the hip kids).

So OTR readers, care to build a new MySpace? Is there really any demand for a new music social network or will it just be a bunch of bands hyping oneanother to each other? Have music fans any real interest anymore in expressing their preference for one band or another by friending them online? Or has all that action moved to Facebook or Twitter? Can Facebook kill these notion stone dead by upping their music inputs? Or are Bandcamp and Soundcloud really the answer? Over to you.

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