Surviving A Tangled Web: Myspace Is Looking To Shift The Balance Of Power In Music
(AllHipHop Features) At one point in the 2000’s Tom Anderson was one of the most popular people on the planet. As the co-founder of Myspace.com (along with Chris DeWolfe), Tom had over 100 million “friends” on the then dominant social networking website.
That early success of Myspace led to it being purchased by media giant News Corp for a reported $580 million in 2005, but the initial hype would not last forever. Eventually, Myspace was overtaken in daily users by other social media sites, and the company suffered a rapid decline in popularity.
Like in the Spider-Man comic book, the struggles revealed in Peter Parker’s origin story are just the set-up for the superhero to discover his true greatness. Myspace has survived its “Uncle Ben murder” and is once again carving out a fresh lane in the world of media and entertainment. It is now a new decade, and there is now a new Myspace.
The reinvented Myspace is being built around the financial and creative backing of superstar Justin Timberlake and Tim & Chris Vanderhook of Specific Media. While the site was originally equipped ten years ago as a social center for young adults, Myspace now focuses on promoting musical content with an emphasis on building the profile of up-and-coming acts.
“Our purpose is to foster discovery, through exposure, promotions, events, content, videos - but those things are just the vehicles in our eyes; they're the means, not the end. They're channels that facilitate discovery,” says Neda Azarfar, Myspace's Vice President of Communications. “In turn, our audience is eclectic, comprised of musicians, designers, music lovers, photographers, fans, writers - people who, at their core, are interested not only in music but also in music culture and in leading a creative lifestyle.”
So far Myspace has profiled rising Hip Hop artists like Chance The Rapper, Isaiah Rashad, and Kid Ink. The Odd Future trio of MellowHigh has worked extensively with the platform as well. Their self-titled album received editorial support through items like The Making of MellowHigh, Throwback Thursday with Hodgy Beats, and the How to Draw MellowHigh contest.
Rap veterans have not been left out. Yo Gotti provided an exclusive backstage look into his world, and Pusha T’s debut solo album My Name Is My Namepremiered on the site. Run The Jewels’ (Killer Mike and El-P) videos for “36'' Chain” and “Get It” were also filmed and produced in conjunction with Myspace.
“Myspace is involved in all aspects of producing and promoting videos, just as we did with the Run The Jewel’s ‘Get It' video which was part of the ‘Music Video Collaborations With Artists We Like’ program,” explains Azarfar. “The program was designed to bring emerging artists together with noted directors to produce music videos, led creatively by the artists themselves. Each of the videos premieres exclusively on Myspace and receives promotion across the platform through a combination of email, social, and editorial integration.”
The “New Myspace” essentially started its official relaunch with a $20 million ad campaign in 2013. The advertising onslaught included broadcast, radio, and digital spots. It was highlighted by a 90-second commercial featuring cameos by Pharrell Williams, Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, Hit-Boy, Iggy Azalea, and Ciara. According to Azarfar, the “Welcome to the Neighborhood” campaign helped bring a significant numbers of eyes and ears back to Myspace.
“The response to the campaign was really positive. Myspace's audience grew 50% immediately after launch (and has continued to grow steadily since then) and the number of artists who joined went up over 300%,” Azarfar states. “But beyond the big growth numbers, the launch campaign was really an important moment for Myspace because so many of the people we strive to support came together in support of what we're building and the spots reflected that.”
That new audience is not only exposed to the works of buzzing musicians. Film fans are also able to discover interesting movie related content on the site. For example, Myspace recently posted an engaging tongue-in-cheek "Couples Therapy" interview with Michael B. Jordan, Zac Efron, and Miles Teller from the romantic comedy That Awkward Moment.
Hip Hop movie buffs got a real treat when Myspace ran an extensive piece titled “Oral History: Tupac, Fist Fights and the Making of Juice” in January. The in-depth article coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the urban drama starring Omar Epps and Tupac Shukar. Epps along with other cast and crew members like costars Khalil Kain and Jermaine “Huggy” Hopkins, director Ernest Dickerson, and co-writer Gerard Brown provided behind-the-scenes insights into Juice.
Even with the current connections to high-profile emerging musicians and Q&A’s with Hollywood stars, Myspace is still not the juggernaut it was during the George Bush-era, but as it continues its rebuilding process, the site’s position in the media marketplace steadily increases.
Think about Peter Parker shortly after his Uncle Ben was murdered by a thief. He already possessed his superhuman abilities from the radioactive spider bite, but he still had not harnessed them into the crime fighter known as Spider-Man. Parker was not taking down Doctor Octopus or the Green Goblin yet, but he could definitely sense that he was no longer the insecure nerd that got bullied in school by the jocks. It was only a matter of time before Peter Parker fully transformed into your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
That is the crossroads Myspace now finds itself. It is still staring up at its biggest competitors, but it is starting to break through the congested web-based media landscape. The company believes by striving to achieve its mission of providing exposure to the people, ideas, and things that often do not receive the attention they deserve, the platform will soon be scaling the highest skyscrapers in the near future.
“In 2014, we'll build out our content offering and continue to produce original content such as ONETWOWATCH and 5 Minutes To The Stage, as well as Sad Girls Guide, and Bun B’s Hip-Hop Illustrations,” Azarfar says. “We are continuing our efforts to highlight up-and-coming talent through programs such as Music Videos with Artists We Like and Tour POV’s. We’re really looking forward to what’s to come in 2014!”