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MySpace Has Been Sold, But Can It Be Saved?

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: .

Earlier this week it was rumored that MySpace would be going through another round of extreme layoffs which would serve as a budget cutting measure to help secure a buyer. Though the asking price of $100 million was still on the table, all but two potential companies had seemingly bowed out from the race to purchase the once colossal social media giant. While Golden Gate Capital and Specific Media were two of the most prominent bidders in the hunt for the News Corp. property it now appears that the latter has won a successful $35 million bid for MySpace, as was reported today via AllThingsD.com. The company’s long and tumultuous history notwithstanding, might the acquisition suggest that there is some sort of hope of returning the once beloved giant to its peak in popularity? Not at all.

The current issue of Bloomberg’s Businessweek features a cover story by Felix Gillette which details the remarkable rise and fall of MySpace. More important than simply detailing the history – something which Gillette does remarkably well – the article questions whether or not there is a future for the crumbling media hub. “Myspace can be something again,” commented MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe, before continuing, “but I think you have to have someone that can really reimagine what it is.”

It appears that Specific Media will be doing just that, as the vaguely worded press release suggests “many synergies between our companies” and that the companies “look forward to combining our platforms to drive the next generation of digital innovation.” When considering that Specific is a massive advertising network though, immediate thoughts such as information harvesting begin to become the most valuable ideas there, especially when considering the vast ocean of users (active or no) whose information remains on the site.

Yet if MySpace goes belly up, what might be the most unfortunate result will be its inability to capitalize on its once prominent music branch. The site’s “About” section reads like an introduction to a the world’s most interesting entertainment portal, but the most important part of its brief manifesto comes in the description of MySpace Music. “Myspace is also the home of Myspace Music, which offers an ever-growing catalogue of freely streamable audio and video content to users and provides major, independent, and unsigned artists alike with the tools to reach new audiences.” As DeWolfe continued in the Businessweek piece, “I’m a little disappointed in the music product, given that we spent so much time and effort to get more music licenses than anyone in the world. I haven’t seen Myspace Music evolve how it should have.” Not only did MySpace become synonymous with music at one point in time, but it became a primary tool for musicians far and wide. Things have since changed.

Aside from spreading resources entirely too thin following News Corp.’s purchase of MySpace, the parent company’s unreasonable emphasis on profits over product was one that separated it from such blossoming user-first portals as Facebook, Twitter and even Tumblr. But what remained throughout the downfall was a sense that the website could (someday, maybe?) still be used as a prominent tool in helping artists promote and market their work. As new companies such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud (and even Facebook’s music facilities) began to surpass the capabilities of MySpace however, that dream has essentially become as good as dead.

What we’re left with now is, indeed, “a leading social entertainment destination powered by the passions of fans,” but what remains to be seen is if the company’s new ownership plans to do as DeWolfe suggested and reimagine MySpace’s future. Chances are good, however, that once Specific Media is able to utilize the information that has just been purchased they’ll shut the doors and bring the story of MySpace to its long-awaited close.

Musicians everywhere: If you didn’t create your own website in 2009 it’s best you do so now, because MySpace as we know it is dead.