Grand Forks Herald Tom Carbone column
Dec 14, 2012 (Grand Forks Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Before the current iteration of social media -- before Twitter, before Instagram, even before Facebook -- existed the social media haven known as MySpace.
The website, with its iconic founder "Tom," ever-present on everyone's friend lists, shaped the modern world of social media. Users "friended" each other, sending private and public messages to anyone they wanted.
It was a lot like Facebook is now, but it always had one key focus that Facebook still hasn't delved into -- music. One of the best things about MySpace, circa 2006, was watching your favorite unsigned bands transform from obscurity to mainstream popularity. A lot of musicians, such as singer Lily Allen and rapper Lil B, built their initial fan base on the site. Their popularity grew from there, until they were churning out music to a much wider audience.
Like most Internet fads these days, MySpace crashed and burned with the invention of Facebook and Twitter. As the network gathered cobwebs, all of us looked back embarrassingly at our middle- and high-school profiles and laughed at the silly things we posted. MySpace pages were like a relic stuck in a very adolescent time.
In June 2011, in the midst of Facebook and Twitter madness, Justin Timberlake and Specific Media Group announced a joint purchase of the archaic social network, MySpace, for a whopping $35 million. Timberlake promised a skeptical crowd of social media gurus that it would be revamped and relaunched into the future, and that it would go back to its music roots.
And that's exactly what it is.
"New" MySpace, which at this point is invite-only, is essentially a hybrid of Facebook, Internet radio website Pandora and music streaming service Spotify, all wrapped into one, fancy new package. Users can "connect" with artists, play their songs and watch their videos, all while sharing this activity with other friends they have "connected" with. The idea is that users will discover music they may not have heard by "connecting" to tastemakers or friends that are active on the site and interested in music.
Once you connect with a user, an affinity percentage is created. This percentage tells users how much they have in common with others. MySpace takes the songs, artists and albums you are connected to and compares it to the other user's tastes, which makes the affinity percentage. The higher the percentage, the more in common you have with another user, musically speaking of course. This feature lets you to connect with people who share similar tastes as yourself.
Aesthetically speaking, the site has a very sleek, visually appealing look. Modern fonts and sharp colors are heavily utilized, and personal profiles are very crisp. The main news feed is similar to Facebook, with one key difference.
While Twitter and Facebook utilize vertical scrolling to read news feeds, MySpace takes an unconventional approach by forcing users to scroll right instead of down for news. The novelty wears off after time, but it's interesting nonetheless.
While MySpace offers a new social media platform for music fans and musicians to connect, it's hard to know if the experiment will last. It's inherently hard to review a website that not many people are on yet because it's impossible to tell how it will be once it's available to the masses.
If MySpace sticks to music and doesn't delve into everything else other social media websites are, it has a strong chance of surviving. As it stands, it's the best social media website that focuses exclusively on music.
If Timberlake keeps the website on this path, MySpace has a brand new, extended future.
Reach Carbone at (701) 780-1249 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and read his blog at http://eartotheground.areavoices.com.
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