MySpace's Demise And Why Facebook Doesn't Need A Music Product Strategy

MySpace has announced that it is cutting half of its staff and are closing its international operations. It may not be a huge deal for social networking more broadly, but it does have significance for the music space. MySpace may not have been a force in the social networking marketplace for some time, but it's still a force in music discovery. This announcement though is no surprise. Back in December 2009, I wrote of MySpace:

"Though they’re unlikely to admit it, the mainstream social networking race against Facebook is as good as over. By contrast they remain the No. 1 destination for artist communities online, yet without a major reinvention they’ll start to feel the competitive pressure bite there also."

The major reinvention came far too late, and it was too little.

Ironically, even though MySpace let basic usability and functionality stutter, artists stuck with it because that’s where their audiences were. A host of much more competitive and differentiated alternatives came to the fore, focusing on subsets of the broader MySpace music value proposition. Sites like Sellaband, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and PledgeMusic each have very different value propositions, but all took from MySpace the baton of developing the artist-fan relationship and ran with it.

Interestingly, despite all this innovation and the continued demise of MySpace as a social networking destination, it clung on to its position as the place for artists on the Web.  Until, that is, Facebook finally started to take the space seriously. After a slow start, artist pages on Facebook have rapidly stolen the momentum. Artists are flocking in their droves to Facebook, leaving their MySpace pages to wither and many are even closing down their own websites. After all, where else are you going to get access to an audience of the scale that Facebook brings?

And there’s the rub. Facebook doesn’t (yet) offer the same depth of discovery tools and artist tools that MySpace or other artist sites do, but it’s where artists’ fans are. Almost every artist’s fans. That is an invaluable asset that artists, their managers, and their labels are waking up to, and fast. 

For a long time now, people have asked when Facebook will get into music. It already is. This is the play that makes sense for it. It doesn't need to launch a music service.  Facebook’s platform play enables the likes of iLike to provide music experiences and vendors such as MXP4 and RootMusic to enrich artist pages.

Whilst MySpace has its life support turned off, Facebook can sit back and watch artists continue to come its way. MySpace helped revolutionize the artist-fan relationship, but it learned the hard way that it’s the  early follower that typically wins, not the first mover.


Myspace demise

I think myspace went down the tubes a bit due to selling out. One of the major reasons i personally have stopped using it is because of the siezure-inducing flashing ads and distractions from the main content. i understand that it is advertising that pays the bills. But is the point of going to the site to check out the ridiculous ads for mindless online games, or to check out an artists you are into and chat with friends etc. Pop artists don't interest me either and if i remember correctly there was more exposure for the "little guy" when myspace first came out. It has become way too commercialized.

Facebook has also become somewhat commercial, but in subtle ways that don't detract too much from the main purpose of the site which is networking...

you are completely right, and

you are completely right, and as an example i would add - the ads on the musician pages are *actually bigger* than the profile pics of the musicians themselves. What is that all about?!? It's hard enough trying to promote bands. It's insulting to the artists who myspace is lucky enough to have using their crappy product.

Myspace withers and dies

This rings so a 20-something who entered the music industry last year I was shocked to find that Myspace was still the #1 way to promote your music online. I don't know ANYbody who actually uses Myspace for social networking, yet to my chagrin I find myself on Myspace every single day - networking with bands and venues. It's been a huge uphill battle - Myspace has no clue how to tap into the huge market that has been sitting in it's lap for a decade and it's shocking how bad their product really is. They've moved to a new "user friendly" profile but it still pales in comparison to the other tools being developed. Reverbnation and Bandcamp are the best tools out there for indie musicians. Reverbnation hasn't really caught on yet unfortunately, but Bandcamp is definitely making a splash here in Portland, Oregon.

It is unfortunate that

It is unfortunate that MySpace allowed their leading position to make them lazy. They took the momentum of audience and artists for granted and let the user experience deteriorate beyond repair. They failed to recognize that ensuring that artists and their fans had a great connected experience was more important than anything else. Without those assets there is no ad business...

Too Late....

According to Zuckerberg, they already have a strategy, though it's unclear whether a product is involved, or rather which product:

I think this actually

I think this actually corresponds with the point I was trying to make: Facebook have a music strategy without needing to waste millions on record label licenses like MySpace did. You don't have to distribute music to be important in the digital music space.

In fewer than 3 years there

In fewer than 3 years there will be a title 'Facebook's Demise ...'

It used to be so simple and

It used to be so simple and easy to navigate. Now it's so full of flashy adds and I don't know where I am.