New Myspace owners: We know where News Corp went wrong
19th Nov 2012 | 14:37
Not going to make the same mistakes
Tim and Chris Vanderhook are not mincing words.
The brothers' company, Specific Media, picked up the ailing Myspace from News Corp for a bargainous $35 million and have set about reinventing the music-focused social network ever since.
Now that their baby has been previewed to press and more of the public in a closed beta, the pair are bullish about their ambitions, confident that they know how to fix Myspace's significant image problem.
TechRadar caught up with the Vanderhooks to ask why bother using the Myspace name at all, if it's a whole new site?
"We saw an opportunity to showcase artists properly," they told us.
"We saw where the previous owners went wrong; they took the organic community aspect of the site and threw more and more at it until they just completely lost their way.
"So we saw the opportunity to take Myspace back to the organic experience – to make it work for artists and be a real platform for them. No one else is servicing artists in that way."
No doubt the millions of existing users and huge library of music will have been a draw too.
Cry me a river
Spreading the word about the new Myspace (no capital S in these brave new times) has been a lot easier with household name Justin Timberlake on board, but the Vanderhooks insist that he's more than just a token figurehead.
"Justin really took charge of the creative strategy – we're not in the music business so he really crystalised for us what artists need; if we were missing that, the site wouldn't have the soul that it has.
"Without Justin, Myspace would not be what it is – a lot of what we've done has come out of conversations with Justin and those have been really woven into the outcome.
"Obviously he's very well known, so that helps too. But his involvement is much more than just putting out tweets."
With 35 million people still using the old MySpace every month, the Vanderhooks have a balancing act ahead of them to keep both old and new users happy. We asked what would happen to all the classic MySpace profiles, many of them dormant.
The short answer is that no one quite knows yet.
"Classic Myspace profiles are staying up for the foreseeable future; we haven't set a date and time to retire those - we haven't even decided exactly yet if we will. We'll see how it goes.
"There are still a lot of users on Classic but we hope that they'll migrate over when they see the new site. Rest assured we want to service our core loyalists the best way we can."
New musical express
With its preponderance on music streaming, building music mixes and playlists and not charging for any of it, you might think the Vanderhooks would be very much of the new musical guard that insists that music ownership is dead. But you'd be wrong; in fact, the Myspace owners reckon that streaming can only strengthen music sales.
"Music ownership is still alive and well. We see there's a market that's segmented; a lot of people sample music using streaming but they still purchase."
But offering a vast catalogue for no cost at all, not even a monthly subscription at this point, how is new Myspace dispelling the notion that music isn't worth paying for? That's one answer that the site hasn't quite pinned down yet; but its clear that the Vanderhooks see the focus being on helping people find and connect with new artists that they love.
"Artists really pour their heart and soul into their work, so we want to increase their livelihoods," they added.
"We think that by creating a more compelling experience, people will want to experience everything they can to do with that artist. Myspace gives them that all in one place."
New Myspace certainly has a challenge on its hands. It looks great, but it'll need more than just a pretty face to win the public over.
Can it succeed? Find out what we think in our hands on new Myspace review, and let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.