Pop Culture

Test Driving the New Myspace

So, Myspace is back. With a massive overhaul of content and a huge advertising campaign, plus backing from lots of "cool" people like Pharrell and Jimmy Kimmel, Myspace has relaunched and is trying to get back in the social networking game. What Myspace is not doing, thankfully, is trying to be another Facebook, which is something the world does not need. Rather, Myspace is going back to its "roots," as it has been screaming from the hilltops, and is promoting itself as a creative vessel rather than a medium for you to dump your daily grievances, excessive pictures of your ugly children and all the food you ate this week.

Wait, so what is Myspace good for then?

Myspace's first order of business is that of a music and photo sharing "mixtape" if you will. The new site, which launched this week, is quite sleek, albeit a bit too Windows 8 looking for me, but easy enough to use for its most prominent function. Users can create playlists and share them with others. Toss in a few photos for visual aesthetics and you've got yourself a snazzier version of Spotify. But, as of now, much of the content is being pushed out by artists (or their publicity people) and as I am not friends with Justin Timberlake on Spotify, listening to his "History of Rap III" playlist is something I suppose I can only get on Myspace (despite him having "Bust a Move" on there twice; I'll give it to him because it's a good song). Similar to Spotify, once you are in someone else's playlist you can share songs with your friends, put items in your own playlist and let people know how cool you are for listening to a specific track. Yeah, this really doesn't tell us all that much.

Rather than "liking" everything, as you would on Facebook, Myspace uses two intertwined circles to show that you are connected to things, people, pictures, music, what have you. The circles are somewhat reminiscent of Google+; strike three against Myspace for lack of visual originality, despite touting that it is the new/old purveyor of originality.

Because neither you nor any of your friends have used Myspace in five or so years, much of what is on display on Myspace is culled from professionally created content. And a lot of that content is sponsored by names you may recognize such as Bud Light. There are lists and articles and playlists created by advertisers made to look like they are not, meaning Myspace has also incorporated some of Buzz Feed's tactics into its new incarnation.

But what happened to your old Myspace account and all the time you spent uploading stuff and simultaneously crashing the site? A lot of your old items are still there. I spent a good 20 minutes marveling over photos of me that I had forgotten about and how much younger I used to look (sad). But your posts, blogs, diaries or whatever Myspace used to call them are all gone. This has aggravated a few people who have demanded the site give them back their virtual memories. Myspace seemingly hit the delete button on your life on the sly, but really if you cared that much you would have found a way to back yourself up some time ago.

Your old friends are still there (those who never deleted their accounts) and you can still post on their pages and even send them music from a very long list of songs that you don't own. It is kind of a neat feature, although it had trouble finding some of the songs I was searching for, but I am super indie (actually I was looking for the Beatles, just to see). Allegedly it has access to 53 million songs, just not "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

The new Myspace also boasts a "seamless" desktop and mobile integration. The mobile app includes a "My Radio" feature, which allows users to create their own Pandora-like radio station and take it on the go, for free. There are also some built-in analytics so you can see who's checking out your space, a nice feature for musicians.

So, what is the verdict on the new Myspace? I have no idea! Do we really need another social network? There have been plenty of reports as of late of users dropping off Facebook. According to an independent analysis Facebook lost 9 million users in the past six months. Despite Facebook's retention issue, I cannot see the new Myspace swooping in on its turf, though. But maybe that's not its purpose.

What I always felt was the difference between Myspace and Facebook was the integration of Myspace and music. I like a lot of bands' pages on Facebook, but it doesn't give me any access to their music, just links to things they feel like promoting. In terms of connecting to musicians and artists, Myspace may be the place to go. However, too much music was also the same reason Myspace fell apart.

Recall that moment when you clicked on a friend's Myspace page and found out they were dumped by their boyfriend. Then you were forced to hear, on repeat, some Sarah McLachlan song that perfectly defined your heart-broken friend's mood, and perhaps that was the day that you made the switch to Facebook. That is not the Myspace that anyone wants back. But when you click on your friend's Facebook page this week and they are yet again complaining about feeling too full from the burrito they ate, maybe then, you'll just want to go visit your new/old Myspace page and listen to some good tunes that don't complain at you. The jury is still out.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig