There has been no mass influx back to the once heavyweight social networking site, no sign that it will be launching a rampage to rival Facebook and Twitter, and generally, not too much heard from the former time-stealer at all. In short, the ‘strategic vision’ of Futuresex and Lovesounds brought on by Timberlake did not seem to get the blood pumping last June.
If there is a place to begin inspecting the reasoning behind this slow start then, it is almost certainly in some of the basic account details now running on MySpace.
Although old account log in details still work on the site, the connection count of all previous profiles has been catapulted back to scratch. This means that if you once had a profile with a massive audience, you can’t simply pick up where you left off, you are expected to start all over again.
This may not be such an issue for the non-musical punters, but for the musicians and artists that the Vanderhooks are targeting, it is quite the problem. Certainly, even pre-revamp, MySpace still had a mass of web traffic arriving at its page thanks to the fact that a simple band Google search would more often than not throw up an old artist account. Google Biffy Clyro for instance and you’ll find their MySpace is the third top hit.
This is a factor that kept the hits and connections rolling in, but now it’s all gone, and it’s not easy to get back, something wonderfully shown in the profile of Justin Timberlake himself; previously the artist had 1.5 million connections, now he has just over 50,000.
The alternative to this questionable call would have simply been to leave the connections in place, allowing a load of former MySpacers to log back in and become once again hooked. I’m willing to bet that many artists who spent years in the past building up a MySpace audience for their music will not be so willing to go through the debacle again.
It’s really a shame too, because there are plenty of features to love on the site. The original material is a major bonus – the features section boasts interesting interviews, new media and the likes of a lifetime profile of Pharrell Williams, something definitely worth checking out if you have a few spare minutes. The analytical data on offer to artists offers up some pretty useful numbers too.
Certainly, the social network will continue to grow in the next year or so. They’ve got an iOS app out now and will surely have an android sibling to follow, and after racking up 31 million users just two weeks after the website’s beta period had ended, the early summer love shown to the site will be more than enough to give the team appropriate time to boost their ratings.
Yet, it’s all too easy to feel that the Vanderhooks missed a big trick by failing to capitalise on the previous communities formed on MySpace. They’ve torn down a city, given those remaining the materials to rebuild it, and expected them to get on with it without a complaint.
Well, cry me a river if it doesn’t work out Justin, because that call by the Vanderhooks was almost as awful as the sentence just typed.
Still, as Timberlake once remarked: ‘what goes around comes back around’, and if MySpace continues to reel out such fresh content, the site will undoubtedly continue to grow – not to Facebook standard, not to Twitter standard, and certainly not into the dominative force that it once was, but just maybe, it could blossom into the regular tool of the everyday musician that the Vanderhooks wished it to be.
First published at www.brignewspaper.com