Myspace has long been the joke of the social media world. Last year the social networking site nearly self-imploded and was victim to massive layoffs, a less than impressive sale, and being written off as a News Corp mistake. Even little victories along the way haven’t been enough to offset the overwhelming failure of the site. Netting Justin Timberlake was gimmicky, and the first mention of Myspace TV sounded like a desperate attempt to grab onto the social TV trend.
To sum up how everyone’s regarded Myspace for the past few years, skip to the one minute mark of this video:
But somehow amidst the wreckage, Myspace managed to accrue one million new subscribers since December 2011, an admirable feat. How did its new company Specific Media save a sinking ship?
Making new friends out of old enemies
November 2010 was something of a turning point for Myspace. The struggling site finally integrated with Facebook, allowing Myspace users to sign on via the Facebook Connect application. While the partnership was definitely a coup for Facebook (and so insignificant to the world’s largest social network that it failed to even acknowledge the move, although Myspace announced the integration), there are some obvious benefits for Myspace.
Chief among them was the ability to access Facebook’s social graph. Being able to leverage the amount of data users pour into Facebook has always been profitable, but Facebook’s Open Graph made this abundantly clearer. Essentially, it’s now an app platform and Myspace is going to go along for the ride.
Of course, a purely social app won’t quite have the pull on the Open Graph that more niche ones do – something that fills a hole. Food, daily deals, games, travel, news. These are all areas Facebook has made available via Timeline apps, which is where the real money and user numbers are at.
Could this have something to do with Myspace’s music player and refocus? Myspace was already on this path, but the Open Graph could have been added impetus. Myspace has no doubt noticed who the early winners of the Open Graph were – music apps.
Your Myspace listening activity already shows up in the Ticker and you can listen-in with friends. So now we’re curious: Will Facebook add Myspace to its official list of Timeline apps? Regardless of where the partnership goes from here, one thing is abundantly clear: Facebook killed Myspace and now it’s bringing it back to life.
Fighting David instead of Goliath
The story of Myspace’s success is more about Facebook than anything else. The Open Graph has been such a triumph and Facebook’s “we have a platform, someone else can make the content we proliferate it with” concept has been working out splendidly.
Myspace has wisely taken itself out of Facebook’s playing field. Now, it’s the likes of Spotify, MOG, Rdio, and Last.fm that the site will have to contend with. These are considerably smaller beasts, although their momentum (thanks in part to Facebook’s Timeline and new class of apps) shouldn’t be discounted.
And because it integrates with Facebook, it has an edge over streaming services that don’t (we’re looking at you, Google Music).
The real remaining question seems to be how Myspace TV will fare. At the moment, Myspace is the umbrella under which Myspace Music and soon enough, Myspace TV fall. In this regard, it’s differentiating itself from either exclusive music or video streaming content, but it will still have Hulu, Amazon Instant Play, and Netflix as competition (which should be launching its own Facebook integration soon, right?).
So is this all enough for a comeback? Only if you limit expectations. Myspace will never again be a full-featured social networking platform and it won’t challenge Facebook or Twitter or even Tumblr. But if comeback means staying on your feet, pushing your newly established brand, and riding Facebook’s coattails for all they’re worth (which there is no shame in), then it seems very likely.
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