Will music resurrect Myspace?

As Myspace reinvents itself, the social network aims to be nexus for bands and fans.

Myspace
The new Myspace revolves around music.

In 2007, MySpace ruled social networking. The multibillion-dollar online empire had four times as many members as its chief rival, Facebook.

Yet by 2009, the site had nearly collapsed. My­Space crumbled under the weight of intrusive ads, dubious management, and an ascendant Facebook. Close to a million users abandoned the website each month for two years. After several rebranding attempts, even the "S" in the site's name shrank to a fraction of its former glory. Myspace was finished.

News Corp, which bought the site for $580 million, dumped it last year for $35 million.

The site's new owners have rebuilt My­space from scratch. Pop star Justin Timberlake and ad firm Specific Media scooped it up with plans to revitalize the social network while acknowledging that there's no use in fighting Facebook.

The new Myspace focuses the last constituency to stick with the social network: musicians.

"You've got places [other websites] where you can listen to an artist's songs, but not really where you can come together and discover them and enjoy all of their content and connect with them – all in one place," says Jason Knapp, executive vice president of product for Myspace. "That hasn't really come back since it went away with the first Myspace."

Mr. Timberlake has used his industry connections to pull in major bands and rising acts, giving each a slick, graphics-heavy online home for their songs, music videos, concert dates, and fan outreach.

An editorial staff will point people toward new talent. Meanwhile, a series of computer algorithms churn behind the scene, trying to calculate specific recommendations for each user based on his or her Myspace activity.

As people discover new songs, they can listen to these tracks through Myspace's built-in music player. The free service will have the lar­gest music catalog on the Internet, according to Mr. Knapp, with all the songs that one would expect from Pandora and iTunes, plus every track uploaded to both the old and new Myspaces.

The social network is currently invitation-only, but will let in people in waves over the coming months. You can request early access at new.myspace.com.

For more on how technology intersects daily life, follow Chris on Twitter @venturenaut.

[Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that appeared in the December 17 issue of the Monitor weekly magazine.]

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.