If MySpace hasn’t become irrelevant, there is little doubt the social network has lost its cache as well as millions of users.
MySpace’s status as a social media has-been was front and centre in June when its $35-million sale by News Corp. was big news mostly because one of the buyers was musician and actor Justin Timberlake. It is a long way since MySpace ruled the social media world, which prompted the purchase of its corporate parent, Intermix Media, by News Corp. for $580-million in cash in 2005.
While many people have written off MySpace, it is still has about 70 million unique visitors a month globally, including about 30 million in the U.S. For people still sticking around, MySpace has appeal mostly because of its strong roots as a place to discover music and where musicians to stake a claim within the social media landscape.
The big question is whether MySpace’s new owners can revitalize the social network to not only maintain its user base but, as important, attract new users who have a myriad of social options. While, in theory, hope reigns eternal, momentum is a strange beast. Once things start heading in the wrong direction, it can be hard to reverse the flow.
Nevertheless, MySpace’s new owners are bullish there are better times ahead by giving the social network a much-needed strategic focus. Al Dejewski, MySpace’s senior VP-global marketing told Advertising Age, that music will be the core of new MySpace (aka MySpace 3.0)
“This young adult male needs to be put on a diet, we need to get it on P90X, clean its system and get back to its foundation. And we’ve found that foundation is music. No other music destination online today can claim the breadth of partnership we have with the four major music labels in addition to the tens of millions of independent artists and the libraries of their songs.”
Dejewski’s optimism is admirable but the jury is still out on whether MySpace can pull off a comeback. The social media world is competitive, consumers are notoriously fickle, and the rise of Google+ has provided another viable option for people who want an alternative to Facebook.
For MySpace to revitalize itself, focus will be important but it will also be crucial – and likely an expensive proposition – for it to drive home the message the new MySpace is a different beast that can meet the needs of music lovers better than the competition. Perhaps this is where Timberlake can play a key role in changing MySpace’s brand image.
There is no doubt resuscitating MySpace is going to be a huge challenge, which is one of the reasons why Timberlake and Specific Media were able to acquire the company for a bargain-basement price. If anything, it will be interesting to see whether MySpace can bounce back or continue its downward Friendster-like spiral.