built a fanbase on Myspace
By: Moses Sumney
With Facebook's stock and growth rates skydiving, it's time to say something
that should have been said a long time ago: Myspace was better. Maybe not when it came to its coding or those garish “personalized”
pages, but definitely when it came to music.
Back in the day — say, about 2004 or so — an artist's Myspace page was an interactive business card, a piece of free ad space upon
which bands built brands. One click, and you could find everything: tour dates, photos, bios, videos, blog entries, and most importantly,
streamed music. Now? Folks interested in a one-stop shop of information about a band really have no idea where to turn first.
You might be able to find out what you need to know after perusing an
artist's Twitter, YouTube, tumblr, Facebook, Bandcamp and their
personal website, but since Myspace's decline, there's no centralized
social media hub for fans to hang out on.
For starters, Myspace's music player was impeccable. At the top of each
page was a built-in song streamer that was easy to use, and
often had bands' whole catalogs, practically.
And when you wanted new music, you weren't left skipping through Pandora
ads. You'd simply search through Myspace's
categories for up-and-coming musicians in your preferred genres.
this method, I found out about folks like Marques Toliver, the soulful violinist-vocalist who has gone
on to tour with James Blake, Hope,
whose acoustic ballad “Bring Me Flowers”
accumulated 5.7 million plays on Myspace, and Grizzly Bear, who have
since become indie rock favorites.
Myspace also helped tons of artists get signed. Diddy first listened to
Janelle Monae on her Myspace page. He promptly messaged
her and then, months later, she was signed to his label. Universal
Republic signed folk-pop singer Colbie Caillat after she held down
Myspace Music's number-one unsigned artist spot for months. And artists
built giant followings using the social networking services,
including Soulja Boy and human subwoofer Skrillex. At its peak, the
company even developed its own label, Myspace Records, to boost
some of the talent found on its pages.
Sure, other sites can claim stories like these, but Myspace seemed to
encapsulate the whole fan experience. Facebook, however, falls
short. For one thing, Facebook band pages don't have built-in music
streamers. Instead, they rely on third-party applications such as
iLike and Soundcloud, which overcomplicate the listening process.
Further, because every Facebook page has the same monotonous layout,
bands aren't able to brand themselves. Sure, it may have
been annoying that your 12-year-old cousin used ostentatious designs and
had the Pussycat Dolls blasting automatically when you
landed, but it was pretty cool to go to your favorite band's page and
see the art for their new album painted across.
For all of these reasons, when users began evacuating Myspace en masse
for Facebook, the artists themselves were the last to
flee, clinging to their hard-earned friends and play counts. Yet up
until now, Facebook still hasn't found a way to fill the gap they
So what next? Myspace is still around; Justin Timberlake (soon after
starring in a movie about Facebook) recently took part
ownership of the company, with the intention of making it a more entertainment-based site with an emphasis in music optimization.
So who knows? Maybe, in addition to sexy, he can bring Myspace back as well.