Why Myspace Is Like Your Ex-Boyfriend
Maybe it’s a sign of my pitiful life that I’ve spent part of the week thinking about Myspace. The musings about Myspace, which unveiled its redesign a few days ago, have gone like this: Should I write about the new, sleek Myspace? Is it a sign of a complete lack of anything more interesting to write about if I do? Am I not trying hard enough? And what was my Myspace password again?
But what flipped the switch to “Yes” on whether or not to write on this subject was hearing a conversation this morning between two DJs on New York’s WKTU. (Brief aside: I have a limited tolerance for Katy Perry, but had apparently forgotten to change to another station after my daughter had gotten out of the car to go to school.)
The discussion went sort of like this:
Man: “I can’t believe you actually go and ‘like’ all of your status updates on Facebook. That’s like high-fiving yourself!”
Woman: “It’s just me trying to get the party started.”
Man: “You know, I was reading an article the other day that Justin Timberlake is bringing back Myspace, as a place where celebrities can connect with their fans.”
Woman: “Remember when, on your birthday, you’d get a big cake on your Myspace page?”
Man: “Yeah, and you’d have a link to your favorite song up on your page?”
Woman: “I had ‘Tambourine’ up there forever. I love that song! And people would put up those crazy wallpapers so you couldn’t even read the content?”
Man: “If Facebook is a cocktail party, Myspace was like last call at a dive bar. It’s really funny that we’re talking about Myspace like it’s archaic. But it is sort of archaic.”
At that point, for fear that KTU was about to play “Call Me, Maybe” for the fourth time in the hour, I switched over to a radio station that was more palatable. However, I reference the above exchange because it so beautifully depicts what Myspace is up against. The redesign, if you haven’t seen it, is drop-dead gorgeous. As another publication in our media trade universe put it, it makes Facebook look like it was “designed by a kid in a college dorm room.” Much of the tech press was similarly enthused. But the two people above? It doesn’t sound like they’d bothered to go and check it out.
I did. It’s way heavy on the graphics, in a Pinterest/Tumblr sort of way, which means it pops. It also integrates Twitter and Facebook – indeed, that’s the first thing one sees when rolling this demo of the new site. The heavy reliance on other social graphs smartly makes it an adjunct to – instead of a rival to –social networks that have long ago passed it by. And although I know nothing of its advertising model, its interface makes it obvious that it creates a rich palate for advertisers.
But the persistent question remains: Will anyone care? In doing a quick perusal of tweets about it, commentary runs along two lines:
1. Myspace is back and I don’t care.
2. Myspace is back, and it looks great.
Forget the fact that it never actually went away, but, in a sense, in the public imagination, Myspace kind of has to be perceived as completely dead to achieve any kind of resurrection. It must bear no resemblance to its former self. The key will be in convincing people – like those two DJs – that there is reason to visit it anew.
How could Myspace do this? Here’s the thing: there remains a fascination with Myspace; it’s like the ex-boyfriend you sometimes stop and wonder about. Why did I love it so much at one point? What would make me fall in love with it again? And what is it up to now? If people are moved to want to answer that last question, and like what they see, Myspace just might have a chance.