Fri Jun 25 2010

It's too late for MySpace

This was the scenario a few years ago: Myspace had it pretty good - the music industry was all over it. Any artist had to have a profile. Everyone had an account. Those that didn’t at least visited it for the latest updates from their friends, family or favorite artists. It was messy, it was huge.

Fast forward to today: the audience is on Facebook and Twitter, the artists are too, daily pageviews are going down quick (see the chart below, off of Alexa), and they’re out of the game. Myspace has simply become irrelevant. This post attempts to explain why, from the perspective of a designer and developer who also happens to be a part of the music industry, and an old user of the site.

Above: daily pageviews graph for Also, proof of impending doom.

##What was once interesting now is just clutter

For as long as I can remember people talking about Myspace, one of the main conversation topics was Myspace’s customization, and how it allowed for some pretty crazy pages. Some considered it interesting, some considered it chaotic and problematic. I’d say it was once the first, and now the latter. After years of inconsistency and injecting CSS+HTML into random profile fields (which in its time created a big market for “profile editors”), people just got tired of it.

We live in an age of information overload, when the time to “figure things out” or “deal with the unknown” is shrinking down to zero - fast. So it makes sense that the audience has tired of the chaos, and that artists have simply abandoned hope that things would get simpler. There’s just no time for the customization craze anymore - not when other sites (where the audience actually is) do it faster.

##People don’t “get” Myspace anymore

… because Myspace doesn’t get itself. What is it? What’s their motto? What problem are they solving? Who and what are they connecting? No one in the audience has a clue and I’m guessing (although it is an informed guess) not many in the company do either. It’s not for music, it’s definitely not for social sharing, so what is it for?

Myspace needs to get their shit together and figure this out. They are scraping other products for ideas (stream from twitter, messaging and apps from Facebook, etc) and failing at imitation (seriously, go try those out). It comes as no surprise that they should be investing their time and money in doing one thing extremely well - which is what Twitter and Facebook do.

##They haven’t used their own product in a while

Everyone loves their baby, even if it’s ugly. And there has to be a lot of love here, because that is what MySpace is - ugly. Myspace is like a flash from a (now hopefully) distant past of bad UI and a disregard for user experience. They simply haven’t stopped and admired their creation in a very long time. Myspace needs one day where everyone stops working on whatever they do, and simply navigates the site. A day when they go through the pain they are putting their remaining users through.

An example: They recently relaunched their events functionality. Here’s a second informed guess: the number of events being added to Myspace went down dramatically. Why? Adding an event took 30 seconds a couple of months ago. Now it takes 5 minutes of going through 3 pages of fields, filling every single one (because they’re mandatory), while not having a clue as to how it’ll actually look on a profile. They. Simply. Haven’t. Tested it.

##In conclusion

It’s too late for these guys. Users have no patience for the site anymore, and their employees clearly don’t either. There’s no apparent product roadmap. They’re not innovating. I can’t help but think they’re the Geocities of today. Michael Arrington said a few days ago that Myspace was like the Titanic, and I have to agree. I can only imagine people are getting on their lifeboats and rowing the hell away from it. The public and music industry sure have saved themselves a long time ago.

The image for this post comes from