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Taking 5: How To Fix MySpace

In the past week few weeks I have been following the fiasco surrounding MySpace as covered by the Telegraph.   The short version is: they had a CEO, Owen Van Natta, who was focused on a goal and optimistic about the future of MySpace.  In February he quit unexpectedly after only 9 months at his post.

Now, two men sit at the top and they are planning a relaunch of sorts. They tell the Telegraph that in the coming months they plan to introduce new services on their site as well as “20-30 micro apps” across iPhone, Blackberry and Android mobile platforms.  The services will give users information about their page like unique visitors numbers.  Also they plan on focusing on causal games (think Farmville) and a system where users are awarded points for contributing to MySpace ie: posting a link, uploading a video, or making comments (it sounds an awful lot like tumblrarity if you remember that).  They want to create incentive to participate in the community… unfortunately they’re doing it all wrong.

“MySpace is a not place for people to talk about what they are up to. It’s the place people talk about what they are into.” Co-president Jason Hirschorn said to the Telegraph in a recent interview.

After reading the article I was curious.  I logged onto my MySpace account for the first time in nearly three years to do some research.  After clicking and searching and seeing the site with a fresh set of eyes I believe I can save MySpace.  Actually, I think I turn it into a compelling place for people use in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter rather than as an alternative.

I explored the photo uploader, checked out the suspended state of friend’s profiles, sifted through 26 unread messages and really used the site for about half an hour.  It wasn’t until I found my way to MySpace music that I actually became little bit impressed.

First of all, the dedicated MySpace Music page looks way better than their dashboard and is way more conducive to information consumption. It allowed me to easily find bands I know, listen some of their music and add songs to my page.   They also have exclusive interviews and music videos.  MySpace Music is easily the best thing going for the service and it is here that they should build their foundation for the future.

MySpace Music allows anyone creating music to upload and share their art the same way Lady Gaga and OK Go can. MySpace isn’t the place for people to “talk about what they are into,” it’s the place where people are showing off what they are doing.  Unfortunately they’re only doing that on the music front.  MySpace needs to stop trying to duplicae Facebook’s functionality and create their own identity.  And that identity can be artist creations.

Imagine a place where you can share your drawings, paintings, music, photographs, videos and writing.  Make MySpace Photography.  I’d love to be able to see featured photographers find out what people are shooting and what they are shooting on.  MySpace Film could be a place for short films to live and you can build in a one-click embed to easily share videos on other users pages, similar to how MySpace Music works right now. 

I am a photographer/cinematographer/writer.  I have pictures on Flickr, Mobile Me and Facebook, my videos are on Vimeo and my writing is here on Tumblr.  It would actually be kind of nice to have all my content in one location and also get updates, similar to the Tumblr dashboard, every time friends post something new.  You could even add something like Amazon’s “people who viewed this item also purchased” feature.  So if I’m searching for OK Go I might also like this other musician and this photographer.  And if you like that photographer here is an illustrator etc. That would definitely be a reason to use MySpace and it’s such an obvious next step for them.

Jason Hirschorn said they were planning a “relaunch” by the end of the year.  And if they’re serious about it they need to take this relaunch to the masses.  They need television commercials and print ads to let people know what has changed and why I should use their service.  If they went the artist route even the advertising is obvious:

My Work. My Life. MySpace.

Done.  Let current users continue to do what they are doing (you don’t want to alienate the people using your service in its current state), but add functionality for artists and streamline the dashboard making it easier to actually see what your friends are creating.

I know what you’re thinking, that’s great and all, but it still doesn’t solve the biggest problem; MySpace is bleeding cash.  I think I’ve solved that too.  In the interest of keeping this short (too late) I won’t go into great detail, but I think Vimeo is a good model.  If people are going to be creating and uploading large amounts of content give them a threshold for free and allow them the option to purchase an upgrade for more space.  MySpace Pro or whatever you want to call it.

This model allows everyday normal users to use the service for free, just like now.  People regularly uploading large files, like videos or high quality photos will have a limited amount of space per month to do so before they need to pay. I’m already paying to store my photos and videos on the Internet so this wouldn’t be anything new.

So that’s it.  That’s my pitch, MySpace.  Facebook may get twice as many unique visitors per month but you have something they don’t in the form of MySpace Music.  It’s your greatest asset and you should treat it as such.  You could easily pull in other art forms by using it as a model.  Also, if you’re still looking for a CEO you know where to reach me.

This is the longest article I’ve ever wrtten. If you made it this far digg it?