The Next MySpace
A few years ago basically every internet-conscious band or artist had a MySpace profile. Times change and so does the internet; and MySpace has been dethroned with no other 'king' in sight. So music business folks love talking about "the next MySpace". There will be no "next MySpace". Here's why:
MySpace came up in the early days of web 2.0; the first wave of a new trend to make the web more social through platforms. MySpace fit into the trend very well, rapidly gaining a lot of steam and realizing their value to bands and artists early on. They adapted and over the years nearly every internet-conscious artist hopped onto MySpace. One only had to do a search for [artist name] + MySpace and you could have an excellent taste of their music. Why did this change?
There are a couple of factors:
- Competition on the social front
- Competition on the band page and audio hosting front
- Technical issues / MySpace' quality issues
The thing with MySpace was that while it initially jumped into some trends quite wisely, it failed to effectively innovate. Some parts of the service were simply frustrating (eg. animated images everywhere, the blog system, spam, auto-playing tracks on people's profiles). Then there were the regular technical issues which further upset chunks of its userbase.
Up came Facebook and people started flocking away – connecting with their personal ("real life") networks on there. Meanwhile Twitter allowed people to follow and connect with total strangers, in a smarter way than we used to connect with strangers on MySpace. Blog platforms like WordPress and Blogspot (and later Tumblr) became increasingly easy to use, which replaced another function of MySpace. Slowly, MySpace's social face was devoured by new giants.
Yet there were still more giants out there. YouTube became an increasingly popular place to host music and sites such as SoundCloud and Bandcamp helped to further fragment the arena. Of course all these platforms have their own limitations, meaning none of them are the 'king' to replace MySpace. So what?
Why do we need a "next Myspace" anyway? At the last edition of SF MusicTech, I heard a great quote which I'm not sure who to attribute to (sorry), but someone stated that the music industry is trying to find "new ways to do old things, while it should be finding new ways to do new things". The rise of the internet has meant a fragmentation and loss of control over the music landscape. MySpace was a stronghold for online music for a while, until that landscape got further fragmented too. The closest we will ever get to a "next MySpace" will be either a music network or a social network that manages to gather, organise and integrate the fragments in spectacular fashion. That, however, is still radically different, since it only unites the decentralized. Meanwhile further fragmentation is unpreventable.
Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, Bandcamp… they've all helped pave the way and now many specialized platforms are coming up, all focusing on their own fragment and paving their own ways forward. There are even small signs of Facebook losing its grip, even though their success lies in uniting the fragments. The trend is fragmentation; decentralization and thus far it has been unstoppable.
The king is dead. Long live the king fragments!