Tomorrow MySpace will lay off 50% to 70% of its 1,000 person staff, including a great deal of its international employees. Workers have known this was coming for a while as News Corp. continues to trim down the much-revised social entertainment site for an imminent sale. Anybody else having AOL-Time Warner deja vu?
It seemed every piece of tragic MySpace news signalled the death knell of the beleaguered social network, but it was definitely over when Facebook vet Owen Van Natta was unceremoniously ousted as CEO. Even his tenure seemed like a Hail Mary play, but he was sacked (by his own team) before he got a chance to throw the ball. Every cringe-worthy development since, including the DOA rehaul, has just been a series of painful last gasps.
This isn’t the end, because we’re past that — this is the funeral. This is the requiem.
I was actually adding some new songs to my MySpace band profile last night and was frustrated by the confusing and un-intuitive revised layout. Yet there are still too many pages to wade through to complete simple tasks. I miss that straightforward old profile, with the picture and messaging options on the left, music and biography on the right and comments at the bottom. (I don’t miss people “pimping” their profiles — what a disaster that was.)
I even miss the old logo. While the revised logo seemed clever at first glance, it was actually symbolic of social network’s state — nothing inside.
Five years ago, MySpace was a gold mine for independent musicians — a place where you could post streaming music, list your shows, connect with fans and network with other bands for touring.
But I can’t blame News Corp. completely for the social networks downfall — eventually there were just too many people, too many bands and too much spamming — users got plain burned out. British comedy show “The IT Crowd” nailed the feeling perfectly in an episode where the characters became addicted and then exhausted by the made-up social network FriendFace.
Chances are you were friends with a guy named Minger on MySpace, who made it a point to friend everyone he came across — I actually know him in real life and he’s quite a funny guy. But who the hell was Ducky? Millions of people must have been friends with him…
Oh yeah, there were all the wannabe Suicide Girls collecting friends (mainly immature young men) by the boatful by posting titillating but not explicit pictures. That heralded the rise of the original MySpace star, Tila Tequila. The world could have down without her.
I remember receiving nonstop friend requests from fake accounts connected to porn sites (I run into this problem less often on Facebook); there was a short period at the end of the real estate bubble where I was flooded with friend requests from real estate agents. It was a little surreal, but definitely encouraged me to shutter my personal profile.
MySpace wasn’t the first social network and certainly won’t be the last, but it was a transitional network during an age of social experimentation. MySpace let users see the potential inherent in social networking, but also the horrors: stalkers, spam, hideous flash ads, oh my. MySpace taught us what we want from a social network — instead of “discovering” people online, the majority prefer connecting with acquaintances met in real life.
It let advertisers get their first taste of social media campaigning, and the wise ones noted the line where engagement turned invasive.
And unlike Friendster, which just kind of faded away, MySpace’s decline was protracted and painful, offering numerous lessons for other social media ventures — for example, user satisfaction trumps ad revenue and don’t get acquired by a giant media conglomerate (or at least not by News Corp.).
MySpace’s requiem, particularly at the beginning of the new year, is further proof of the end of an era. No longer is social networking something the young’uns are doing on that crazy site, it’s become an essential component of the Internet, business and advertising. There’s no crazy site anymore — the social revolution is omnipresent.
So as the pink slips are delivered tomorrow, I’m going to raise a glass to MySpace and indulge in nostalgia. I’m going to relive the glory days, when I was fresh out of college and bored at my first office job, killing time by promoting my new band and sending friend requests to pretty young women who lived nearby and seemed to have good taste in music.
Feel free to share your MySpace memories below.