You may have heard this before, and you may be reluctant to believe it, but Myspace is back, and its new owners believe that this time they have the potential to go the distance. The beleaguered social network first came back to life last year, with a little help from Justin Timberlake, and has since redefined itself as a music discovery service. The official launch took place this week. All original content remains online (this author’s own horrendously outdated profile can testify to that), although the capital “S” is no more.
So what’s different this time? Well, for starters, new bosses Tim and Chris Vanderhook have seen to it that Myspace has what every viable social network needs; a mobile presence. The Myspace iPhone app is free to download, and great care has been taken to offer users a host of engaging features.
One such feature is an ad-supported radio service called My Radio. Rather than being algorithm based like Pandora or iTunes Radio, My Radio enables its users to create their own radio stations. Says Tim: “You can go on the desktop program that you want people to listen to. You become the DJ. It’s for regular people all the way up to Justin Timberlake.”
Another feature which the Vanderhooks are hoping will help the Myspace app stand out is a GIF creator. So far, though, the app has garnered something of a mixed reception. In the first five reviews alone in the App store, several users express dissatisfaction or sheer indifference; one calls it “slow and unusable”, another says it simply “seems ok”, while a third warns others “do not upgrade!”
Tim Vanderhook outlines the new Myspace’s mission statement by quoting musician and Myspace user Steve Angello: “MySpace used to be my home. Most artists want it to be their home on the web, but I want a single place to house my profile, music, videos and fans, and a feedback system to make me better at what I do.” The Vanderhooks aim to tick each of these boxes and make Myspace the place to be online for exciting new music.
With MySpace’s less than inspiring track record, this latest incarnation has its skeptics. Pete Pachal at Mashable highlights usability as an on-going issue that needs to be addressed, and suggests that reshaping peoples’ associations of the network might be harder than the Vanderhooks think. “Over all the gung-ho talk, the stigma of classic MySpace casts a deep shadow,” he says. “Can the new Myspace really get people to think of it as anything other than an ancient social network they’d like to forget about?”