Myspace is back, but can it return to social media stardom?

Myspace is back, and it’s nothing like it was before.

After going through invite-only beta testing in July and previewing the site a few months ago, Myspace is officially open to the public now. And I have to say I’m impressed.

Music is the new focus of Myspace. That’s evident with the always-embedded music player on the bottom of the page and the company’s tagline: “The New Myspace helps people Discover, Connect and Share.”

It appears the company timed the unveiling of the redesign with Justin Timberlake’s release of his new single “Suit and Tie.” That’s evident when a standalone shot of Timberlake — one of Myspace’s biggest investors — appears on the initial homepage with an audio link to the new song featuring Jay-Z.

Posting a “status update” about my favorite song

The “Connect” button is essentially a Facebook “Like.” Once you “connect” with an artist or person, posts from that “Connection” appear in your feed.

There’s also a library with the songs, albums, videos, mixes and photos that you’ve connected with. I love this — it’s as if Facebook grouped together everything that you “liked” all in one place. For music, this is particularly appealing.

One thing that differs from any social media site I’ve seen is the horizontal scroll. Whether you’re browsing for music or looking at your own profile feed, everything moves left-to-right. This is nice for tablets and mobile devices. It’s almost as if you’re browsing through a never-ending magazine.

I only perused the site for 30 minutes but had no problems or difficulty learning everything. It’s very easy to use and the design is awesome. The website is clean and sleek.

I’m really excited to keep on exploring the new Myspace. I think they might have struck gold here by merging music discovery and social media. There are certainly options for social media (Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn) and music discovery (Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud), but nothing that has bridged the two — until now.

Back when the preview video was released in September, we ventured over to the University of Washington campus to see what the collegiate crowd thought of the new MySpace. Check out their responses below, and feel free to pitch in your own comments — is Myspace back for real?

Marlee Gross, UW senior

“I think it’s really cool. The whole interface looks really nice, really aesthetically pleasing, hip-looking, modern and sleek. I do think that it’s going to be hard to get my generation — one that used Myspace and transitioned to Facebook — back to Myspace. But it seems like it will be very effective for new users — maybe a younger generation.”

Lauren Becherer, UW senior

“I never had Myspace in junior high and didn’t get Facebook until the end of senior year, but I think this looks pretty dope, I must say. It looks like it incorporates Pinterest and Tumblr all in one. I think Facebook people are getting fed up with all the changes — the whole Timeline thing, no one really likes that. This, to me, looks really clean. I’m a big fan of white space and it looks fresh and I think it could be really cool.”

Sean O’Hara, UW freshman

“The music aspect seems really organized and crisp. If you are really into music then I feel like that’s a good way to go. It looks really futuristic and professional. You can slide everything around, pick up songs, drag it down to where you want to play it — that’s really cool.”

Kevin Dowd, UW junior 

“It is definitely interesting that Myspace is trying to rebrand itself and come back as something different. It looks a lot cleaner than the old Myspace and even Facboook. I like the interactive layout with everything moving around instead of being so static.”

Ian Fike, UW junior 

“It shows that Myspace has shown a commitment to interaction design and recreating where they are coming from, but I don’t think that the sentiment will change. I think when you fall by the wayside as a social network, it’s really hard to regain investment in your service. What it comes down to at the end is that Facebook has such a wide audience and developed an audience at a level that Myspace was never even able to achieve. I don’t think that a social network anytime soon, unless it’s completely revolutionary, is going to be able to compete with that.”

Zoe Liebeskind, UW sophomore 

“It looks like Myspace is a lot more aesthetically pleasing than it was before. It has more options. I just used it when it was popular and I switched to Facebook when it became popular. I just went with the flow.”

Dune Butler, UW junior, and Helen Aprikyan, recent UW grad

Dune: “Just a lot of pictures, not a lot of information. I was a big fan of the old Myspace and then everyone went to Facebook and there’s this huge learning curve. And now if everyone does the same thing, I’ll probably not go into the world of technology anymore. It’s too much, too much is changing. Too many things to learn how to do.”

Helen: “I thought it was well done, clean and professionally looking — a lot more like Facebook rather than what Myspace used to be.”

 Roshan Sukumar, UW grad student

“The video is fine. There is nothing wrong with it and it’s sleek and fancy and all that, but I already have far too much social media in my life and I don’t really need another one. All of my friends are on Facebook and unless there is a huge revolution where everyone switches back to Myspace, I’m probably just going to stick with it.”

Gabriel Smith, UW junior 

“I don’t know, I’m pretty happy with Facebook. Actually, you know what? I’m not even really happy with Facebook. I would like to remove social networking from my life. That would be my fantasy. It’s a very big time sink. Except the thing is, it does help keep in contact with people who are far away, but I would rather just use email. It sort of gives the illusion of being in contact because you don’t actually talk to them but you can see their activity. It makes you feel like you don’t need to do any work to be in contact with them, but you really do.”

  • Will Miller

    When I click on your link to MySpace it tells me “your browser is not supported.” I’m using IE9. Is that right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottmoore.seattle Scott Moore

    The first line of the third paragraph in the article says very succinctly why myspace will not offer any real competition to facebook. “Music is the new focus of Myspace.”

    We’ve all known this for years. It’s why everyone left in droves for facebook. Myspace’s objective is to be a music publisher, and Facebook’s objective is to be a social networking site. The user experience revolves around that main objective, so myspace will never be good at social networking since it’s programmed around a music experience. I hope they at least ditched that horrible cold fusion mess they created for themselves.

  • Guest

    Myspace, like all “social networking sites,” is fundamentally uninteresting. Letting users build a network of subscriptions and “connections” is something that any kid with a computer science class under his belt could do in a weekend. The compelling value that Facebook is trying to create is to build a login and a graph that is usable everywhere, and even Facebook is struggling to maintain interest among its plateauing numbers of users and platform developers.

    In conclusion, why is Myspace even a web site? Think outside the box, people. If Myspace is to be a music hub, build a music player. If Myspace is to be a video sharing device, build a video app. There’s more to social software than a “connect” button inside yet another walled garden.