Will the new MySpace be LinkedIn for the creative industry?
MySpace has long been the poster child of web 2.0 failures; a meteoric rise, popular culture ubiquity and an acquisition by a major media company for a staggering sum, followed almost immediately with continuous technical issues against a more nimble and simple foe ending in a sale for a mere 6% of its original purchase value. At the time of the sale, not much attention was paid other than the typical eulogy for the once creative social web powerhouse, stories that focused mostly on the meager amount that was paid for the site. There was one interesting element to most news reports, “Specific Media said it had brought on board the artist Justin Timberlake as a part owner and an active player in MySpace’s future.”
A search of technology news site TechCrunch shows that not too much was made about the acquisition nor was much speculation given to what its future might hold. Indeed, some of the reporting is more snickering than anything else. To be fair, most would not expect much from the poster child of social media failure. But just last month, the curiosity over having Justin Timberlake involved seems to have given way to genuine anticipation over the coming‘re-launch’ of MySpace. Consider this teaser released in September:
Much as been written about the teaser, including pieces about a potential new competitor to Facebook, a look at what this new platform may mean and commentary on just how incredible the new design looks. However, this portion of a recent Timberlake MTV interview may indicate the ultimate destination for the new MySpace:
“Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter about the revamp, Timberlake said that while he comes from a generation of artists who use social networking tools by necessity rather than choice, he is definitely won over by the medium. “But with every obstacle comes an opportunity and I see this, as it speaks to somebody like me, as bridging the gap,” he said. “It’s just bringing the connection that much closer while still making the artist feel comfortable that they can make their art, lock themselves in a room and torture themselves as they do, and still find a way to comfortably connect with their fan base.”
The new MySpace is completely focused on creatives and because Timberlake is involved, it is very likely that there is an aggressive business development plan associated with this focus. Timberlake is not only successful on the screen and on stage, but he has been very successful in business ventures of varying types. From mastering the art and business of celebrity endorsement to launching new brands of drink and apparel, Timberlake is that rare individual who couples a savvy business sense with his creative abilities to make a very good living. The question is, what is the direction in which he intends to move MySpace? Here is one consideration.
Social media ultimately makes money one way, advertising. Certainly, there are derivatives, like the sale of content for instance, but social websites have captive audiences and they are able to sell access to the eyeballs that are associated with this audience. Impressions is what advertisers are going for. Couple this with the fact that creative industries really have no single home today and one could easily speculate that the direction for MySpace would be the social hub for all things creative.
Consider the creative sites that you search and consume today. Musicians, for instance, each have their sites that can be over produced. There is no consistency across the music industry over how an artist shares music, nor a consistent method for consumers of his or her art to easily identify and mine what is available from the performer in a manner that offers up the personality of the artist at the same time. And this is just one example; the same could be said of graphic designers, writers, photographers, authors, event planners, film producers, video game developers and so on. These communities are underserved by the social web, and this could potentially be where MySpace is headed.
The result? LinkedIn for creative industries.
Today LinkedIn serves many industries but you won’t find many photographers, graphic designers, musicians or videographers leveraging the site very heavily. Nor does LinkedIn today offer up much in the way of news across these industries. There seems to be opportunity here to allow creative industries to represent their abilities and demonstrate their skills in a forum that is naturally social and connects them to not only the fans of their work but those who are considering consuming their work. If MySpace is launched in a way that keeps the experience of using the new site consistent, and naturally connects demonstrable examples of artistry with these that like, consume and desire it, then there is potential for the new MySpace to become the standard social hub for consumption of creative in no matter what form.
It will be extremely interesting to watch it develop. We’ll be watching and if it appears that MySpace is moving in a direction of a professional social hub for the creative industry, we’ll be sure to cover that movement and more importantly, share insight on how best to capitalize on it as it matures.