MySpace was once the undisputed powerhouse of social networks — until Facebook came along and humbled MySpace, which subsequently shed tens of millions of users and lost most of its market share. The one-time social media giant, which still has 54 million active users, has since tried rebranding itself as a music-oriented website, with limited success. But now, investor and unofficial spokesman Justin Timberlake promises that a new redesign will win over old users once and attract a legion of new ones. (Watch a video intro below.) Here's what you should know:
What does the new MySpace look like?
The redesign "fuses the best of Google+ and Pinterest, displaying tons of content without seeming cluttered," says Hillary Busis at Entertainment Weekly. MySpace is aiming for usability, says MTV.com, with a format that allows for "easy drag-and-drop interactivity" and simpler ways to connect. And aesthetically, the new MySpace is a huge upgrade, offering a "sleek and sexy new look" for a website that was often criticized for its clunky interface, says Dino Grandoni at The Huffington Post.
Is MySpace trying to be the next Facebook?
No. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, MySpace owner Tim Vanderhook said the new MySpace is tailored to allow "the creative community to connect to their fans." Unlike the old MySpace and the contemporary Facebook, the site isn't built around friend-to-friend connections; it's built around "a community of creators" from every field, from established performers like Timberlake to unknown artists trying to break into the zeitgeist. The new MySpace is expressly designed for artists looking to showcase their work.
Will people come back to MySpace?
For music, maybe. Remember, "the original MySpace was the trailblazer for bringing artists and their fans closer together," and there's no reason it can't harness that audience again, says Mark Mulligan at Music Industry Blog. And MySpace already has a leg up on the competition, adds Alice Philipson at The Telegraph; the site boasts "the largest library of online music," with around 42 million tracks — far ahead of potential competitors like Spotify and Grooveshark.
Okay... but can MySpace really bounce back?
This is definitely a step in the right direction — but there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome. The new MySpace is "gorgeous," says Wayne Williams at Beta News, but this isn't the mid-2000s, when a social network was still a relatively novel idea. MySpace will have to overcome the growing consensus that people already have too many social networks to manage. The ultimate cautionary tale is Google+, which proved "you can offer users everything they could possibly want, and it still might not be enough to draw them in."