There’s an article about MySpace on Download Squad today (a great site - and one you should subscribe to, if you don’t already). It would appear that MySpace is “showing artists some love” by adding some basic analytics and an archive of music videos.
That’s it? Are they kidding?!
MySpace has what I would consider to be the greatest untapped asset on the internet right now: EVERY FRICKIN’ BAND ON THE PLANET.
You guys ARE MySpace. That’s “love”?!
MySpace need to do better. Way better. And they need to do it now.
A better MySpace
Imagine if they started a merchandise service, and topsliced $1 off each sale. Even if every artist in the world only sells two t-shirts - one to themselves, and one to their mother - and with an average of (let’s say) 2.5 people per ‘band’ - there’s $25m right there without even blinking. By being actually helpful.
Or what if they set up a publishing company to connect artists with independent film-makers, games developers, television producers, web companies and other media outlets? Or helped artists connect with brands, so that Coke could offer $500 to each of 1,000 young indie rock bands in exchange for the usual sponsorship stuff on tours?
Or suppose they designed the perfect online independent music contact management system. Or gave ordinary members - non-musicians - the tools to set up their own MySpace ‘labels’ to discover, promote and distribute artists.
Or any number of other things they could do if they thought for two minutes about the fact that they have EVERY FRICKIN’ BAND ON THE PLANET.
The list is endless. But MySpace clearly don’t get it.
They think that they’re still in the social network game. That they are somehow competing with Facebook. They’re not. That’s not the business they’re in. I mean really - do you know ANYONE who uses MySpace for day to day general social networking? They may have been pioneers in this field (I don’t happen to think they were… but they MAY have been) - but that’s not what people use them for now.
Don’t get me wrong: You CAN manage your day to day independent music career using MySpace. Many people do. But it’s like drying your hair with a toaster. Possible, but not really fit for purpose.
Let’s be clear. We decided what MySpace would become. They set up a social networking platform, but what we as users decided to use it for is as a music platform. Were it not for issues of timing and some core functionality that nobody else was offering right up front, it would probably have been dead by now, because they still haven’t realised that very simple fact.
The only thing keeping MySpace on life support to this day, as far as traffic is concerned - is YOUR music. For reasons of critical mass alone, more or less every artist on earth has a presence there - and that’s mostly because every other artist on earth does.
And we put up with its broken interface, bad design, 90s technology, ad-riddled BS, and complete lack of comprehension about what MySpace is really for - for one reason alone: nobody else has EVERY FRICKIN’ BAND ON THE PLANET.
Right now, nobody else can do what MySpace could do, should they choose to. Nobody else has everyone in music signed up, and it seems unlikely at this point that anyone else ever will again. Lots of stuff does things far better than MySpace - but everyone’s already AT MySpace. Inertia rules.
We need a revolution
MySpace doesn’t need improvement - it needs a complete rethink. It needs to be remade, genuinely in the service of the people who make it work - OR we need to stage an orchestrated mass exodus.
We need an elsewhere to go and we need to ALL go there.
I’m completely serious about this: if the people at MySpace don’t recognise and understand the incredible asset they possess and start to make use of it in a way that’s helpful and beneficial to their core user base - then they deserve to fail. Slowly, painfully, and in abject corporate misery.
And when I say ‘core user base’ - I don’t mean (as they do) all of the people who at one time signed up to MySpace. They’re members - but they’re not all users. I’m talking about the people who USE MySpace. Really use it.
Of course the ironic thing is that simply realising and making use of this ‘revelation’ is exactly the sort of thing that would turn MySpace into a far more wildly successful money-spinning destination than it ever has been in the past. One that grew organically and provided well thought-through (and wildly profitable) services for the vast majority of artists who are NOT Black Eyed Peas or Muse.
But they clearly haven’t understood it yet, and I despair of them ever understanding it at all.
MySpace is playing catch-up in increments - they’re a decade behind everyone else, and losing ground fast. They need to stop making improvements and adding extra features. Seriously: tear it down, and build it again properly. And this time, understand what it is you have necessarily become: a service for independent music.
You have EVERY FRICKIN’ BAND ON THE PLANET for God’s sake. Sort yourself out.
You have one year.
The clock is ticking
I’d like to hereby declare 24th October 2010 Global ‘Quit MySpace’ Day.
That’s one year from today. It’s a Sunday. Put it on your calendar. Mark it in your diary. And spread the word. Let’s give them 12 months to do it right - or we’re ALL gone.
I’d like to invite any other music-facing service on the planet, real or as-yet unformed, to step up and take their place as the default home for independent music online. We may be about to create a vacuum. Someone needs to step in to fill it.
I don’t necessarily WANT MySpace to fail. The best outcome for this is for musicians to be delighted with the platform. Nobody wants to move all their data, re-upload their songs, and start building up a fanbase (however bogus those numbers actually are) all over again. But if the ‘love’ shown to artists is as weak and contemptuous as the kind of ‘love’ that passes for News From MySpace as reported on Download Squad today - then they MUST fail.
To be honest with you - this is not my fight. I’m not an independent musician. I don’t have to be on MySpace. In fact, I never have to look at it again if I don’t want to. But this makes me angry.
You deserve far better - and I hope this inspires you to demand it.