Let’s See if Great Content Can Save Myspace

It isn’t easy to found a fresh start-up that successfully gets people excited about a new cause or revolutionary idea. But it’s even harder to resuscitate a ghostly brand and drag it out of obsolescence. Myspace, once a pioneer in social media and one of the most popular sites on the internet, faded as Facebook grew. But on June 12, “New Myspace,” a revamped version of the network, officially launched to the public and moved out of beta.

It’s going to be an interesting case study to watch to see if high-quality content is able to win over users that have long since abandoned it for greener pastures.

There is momentum behind Myspace’s re-release, celebrated in part by a promotional video starring young artists like Iggy Azalea and Pharrell. It’s going back to its original roots as a hub where bands and artists were able to network not just with their fans, but with each other: At the launch party in LA, Miley Cyrus hopped up on stage with Robin Thicke. Beginning June 18, Myspace will be the exclusive streaming destination for artist performances from the Jimmy Kimmel Live’s concert series, starting with Empire of the Sun. But beyond the celebrity endorsements and deals, Myspace hopes to gain lasting relevance through a long-term content strategy.

In addition to lots of streaming music and video, Digiday reported in May that the new Myspace has brought on board a dedicated editorial team of journalists with experience at publications like Rolling Stone, CNN, Spin, and Huffington Post, in addition to a cohort of freelance writers.

Consequently Myspace — previously known as a place where the level of intellectual banter could generally be summed up by “lulz” in glitter text — is publishing content like “From Green Day to Operation Ivy, a Look back at Lookout Records,” a lengthy retrospective of the Bay Area punk label compiled by writers who count Billboard, Buzzfeed Music,Grantland, and GQ among their past bylines. It means, under the category “Canon Ballin’,” we can read “The-Dream’s Entire Catalog, Catalogued” by one of LA Weekly’s music editors. The piece delves into “every song [the artist has] ever touched,” offering in-article mini players for the majority of songs mentioned.

Myspace’s writers are knowledgeable and talented, all bringing distinct voices to their features — which they have to do to stand out in the nebulous and densely populated world of music blogs. Even in smaller articles, like “Artist of the Day” and “Rush Hour Report,” they offer articulate, character-filled opinions. There is no overarching Myspace tone, though the platform centralizes its best work: “Committed to promoting its community, the new Myspace dedicates a highly visible homepage to highlighting members and their content,” their mission statement says. Clicking “discover” and then “featured” will let you get it all.

By channeling author quality and variability, plus taking risks on long-form content (not to mention an unusual, albeit tablet-ready design with a horizontal scrolling format), Myspace is potentially compelling to both avid music fans and brands. Already, they’ve partnered with Bud Light to hold a 50-concert event across all 50 states. On Bud Light’s dedicated Myspace page, users can listen to and read features on the artists involved. Gucci also publicized their new watch line through Myspace with playlists, photos, and videos.

Based on content and design alone, Myspace has the potential to become a media force on many levels. Their branded work is a welcome relief from display ad-heavy Facebook. Myspace’s presence as a hybrid music-lover’s guide, social network, and powerful song player (52 million songs), representing both established artists and young-and-brights, feels inclusive but not crowded. It’s creative, it’s fun. It’s a platform for collaboration and discovery, championed by caution-to-the-wind artists, not dorm-room-sequestered college kids.

Now they just need more users.

Image by Narcis Parfenti