No room for MySpace now that we have our heads in the SoundClouds

 

REVOLVER:HOW DO YOU go, in five short years, from being the world’s most popular social networking site to an unloved and rarely visited dinosaur that is now being sold off in a fire sale? Just asks the peeps at MySpace, whose rise and fall is dramatic even by today’s fast-forward standard.

This week News Corp (MySpace’s owner) announced it was washing its hands of the once great game-changing site – or, as the company put it in corporate speak: “Now is the right time to attempt to place the social network under a new owner.”

You sort of knew it would all end in tears during MySpace’s peak years of 2006-2007, when the site had a staggering 100 million numbers and was kicking the crap out of Facebook in the social networking charts. That’s when News Corp grandly announced that MySpace would spell the end of record companies.

Every second day something arrives into Revolver’s inbox saying something new will change the music world irrevocably and mean the end of the old ways of doing things. Hundreds of these hyperventilating schemes with “major financial benefactors” now lie in the web’s recycle bin.

Their PR was good. Lazy journalists wrote about how MySpace broke acts such as Lily Allen – the same Lily Allen who was signed to a long-term record deal before she even thought of shoving some of her songs on to MySpace.

It’s the old Radiohead wheeze of releasing their In Rainbowsfor free and waiting for the seismic consequences it would have for the industry. But the only reason Radiohead could release In Rainbowsfor free was because a big nasty label had ploughed millions into the band so they could get to the position to do what they did (and, incidentally, they now regret doing so).

MySpace had only two functions: you could listen to songs (or snippets thereof) for free, and it made A&R people go from a semi- comatose working life to a full- comatose working life. Previously these preposterous people would actually have to go out to indie dumps to run the rule over shouty 17-year-olds. With MySpace all they had to do was flick through the “most rated” unsigned bands and go “let’s spend £5 million on this lot”.

But the site never evolved. It didn’t get faster when it needed to, and when Facebook outstripped it in terms of numbers it just sulked. YouTube got critical mass, Twitter arrived and now SoundCloud is viewed as the new MySpace.

True, MySpace did succeed in being the first big site to offer bands a free online presence where they could “interact” with fans and stalkers and plug their live shows. But, like Bebo and Friends Reunited, it became too mainstream and too ubiquitous. For an industry that prides itself on grassroots discovery, rebelliousness and outsider status, MySpace was just too vanilla.

There can never be a one-stop shop for the music industry – there are too many niches, genres and tribal internecine wars for that to ever happen – and the fragmented state of today’s online “breaking bands” world reflects this truism.

SoundCloud is where the indie heads are at now. It’s linked up with The Hype Machine (the site that gives the I-love-new-music- regardless-of-how-shit-it-is bloggers most of their content). There’s also, depending on tastes, ideologies and current fashionable status, Bandcamp, Moontoast, Buzznet, Disrupt, FanBridge, Nimbit, TuneCore and about 150 million others.

Bye bye MySpace. Thanks for the six weeks in 2006 when you were something approaching cool, relevant and radical, but you’re damaged goods now. You’ll probably end up being bought by Tesco.

Mixed Bag

- Adam Ant is back with the best album title of the year: Adam Ant Is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter.He’s doing some strange covers for the live shows, which are reportedly spectacular. Born in the USA is retitled Born in the UK and features a new line: “Oasis were a bunch of c**ts with no style.” How very droll.

- The Brit Awards are on next Tuesday night. Despite securing live slots for Arcade Fire, Adele, Cee Lo Green (I wonder what he’ll sing?) and Plan B, watch that James Corden, the host, makes a hames of it.