Justin Timberlake is bringing MySpace back (yeah!) and all those other social media websites won’t know how to act (yeah!).
Lame song references aside, as previously reported, Justin Timberlake has been taking time out of his music and acting schedules to focus on his investment on resurrecting the long-dormant MySpace.
The fanciful days of the first big social media website as a power player in the music industry are certainly long gone, the halcyon days when it once helped broker the careers of Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen, but the last few years have not been kind – leaving the site to collect digital dust.
Problems with the former social media juggernaut have been widely noted, leading to its sale last July for $US 35 million. A paltry amount when you consider that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp bought the website for $US 580 million back in 2005. News shortly followed that its new owners, Specific Media – including a plucky Justin Timberlake – had ambitions to relaunch the site as a kind of online ‘talent quest.’
Despite further setbacks and delays late last year, including a vast haemorrhaging of users, Timberlake and co are now ready to reveal the first look at the revamped MySpace.
The new website contains a blurb and flash image of a vinyl record spinning, which demonstrates that the MySpace facelift is staying true to the previous promises that the website would be holding fast to its fundamental commitments of synergising social networking with music.
“We’re hard at work building the new Myspace, entirely from scratch,” begins the teaser. “But we’re staying true to our roots in one important way—empowering people to express themselves however they want. So whether you’re a musician, photographer, filmmaker, designer or just a dedicated fan, we’d love for you to be a part of our brand new community.”
The short text is also accompanied by a short teaser showing off the reworked social media site (which you can view in the banner up top), showing off a slick new interface and open connectivity with supposed competitors Twitter and Facebook, all focussed around what looks to be a Flash-based layout that focuses on a visual layout.
On closer inspection it appears that there’s a mixed media approach going on, including linking music mixtapes with photo albums and separate ‘walls’ to focus on specific interests – especially music. Including a ‘Discover’ page that again lists a ream of artist interviews, reviews and songs – presumably linked from various internet sites and media – in a deliciously visual format.
Of course, Timberlake’s own music is used to show off a bold new, screen-filling search function, which instantly links to a wealth of videos, music, and related profiles. Including quick peeks at an ‘affinity’ function and a fan location network, which hints at some interesting connectivity opportunities for budding musicians and young bands.
The new MySpace is clearly gunning to be a key platform for bands and their fans to spread their social media tendrils in a unique way. Rather than directly competing with the Facebook juggernaut, it appears it’s trying to be another link in the internet chain.
Though the video shows off the website for personal use, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine how it would work as a networking tool for bands from every spectrum, from the young greenhorns with only a few gigs and tracks to their name, right up to the large-scale international acts.
There’s a lot to take in from the teaser video, and obviously, it remains to be seen if many will make the leap from the likes of Facebook, or simply use the new look MySpace as another tool in their social media arsenal – but the footage also shows off some unique, interesting new features – it all comes down to how user-friendly the website will be and, of course, how willing people will be to learn a whole new system of interactivity.
It appears that Timberlake’s previous comments on purchasing MySpace may be more than just PR spin. Stating, ”there’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favourite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place.” If the final product can deliver on the exciting promise of its preview – it could well be.
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