Music industry having a “MySpace moment”


Before streaming services like Spotify, SoundCloud, and Pandora were part of the mainstream, MySpace had a solid hold on the online music-social media hybrid industry. But, as the social network began to decline in popularity, all the artists and users it had once consolidated into its platform left – and spread themselves across a multitude of new music streaming services. While this much unorganized talent may seem like a daunting task for social media-music startups to take on, Bas Grasmeyer, in his article “Online Music is About to Experience Another Myspace Moment,” thinks MySpace’s fall from grace is the perfect storm for young companies to do something profound in the music-social media hybrid industry. Grasmeyer states, “From the ashes of MySpace, which never managed to recover, rose a new ecosystem of music startups.”

A new myspace

While the chance to create a “new ecosystem of music startups” has opened in the wake of MySpace’s decline, no one company has yet to fill the void. Grasmeyer notes SoundCloud came closest – but ultimately hasn’t been successful in replicating the success of MySpace. “SoundCloud came closer to being the ‘next MySpace’ than any startup has.” He continues, “…let’s be blunt: the company is not doing well.”

SoundCloud, which initially began in the same vein as MySpace by offering up-and-coming artists a chance to get music exposure and gain listener traction, has since slowly moved off course. SoundCloud, which was once the go-to platform for small, amateur artists and indies to get their music to the public, has moved into a similar territory as Spotify–they offer music catalogs of established artists and have created a paid tier (to which any artist, indie or mainstream, can belong). While a paid tier is surely great for artists on SoundCloud, and has been relatively successful for SoundCloud, it has also weaned the platform off the same spectrum of MySpace, which was completely free.

Who will fill the void?

Spotify and the other streaming services, while not necessarily created as MySpace competitors, have temporarily filled some of the void it left behind. However, there is still room for startup platform(s) that operate along the same spectrum MySpace once did. But, Grasmeyer is clear that no social media-music service can fill the MySpace void by simply imitating it: “Instead, take a specific problem, research it, build a solution for someone, test it, try it again for a broader group, and if it works: double down and scale up.”

The longer the MySpace void remains open, the more desperately a platform is needed to take its place – and the void is ripe with opportunity for new startups to turn what once was (and still really is) a unique and forward-thinking idea that has fallen to the wayside into something sustainable and profitable in an increasingly competitive digital music space.

Photo by Spencer E Holtaway, CC BY 2.0