MySpace and it’s descent into irrelevance

This is a comment intended for this thread on Quora – sadly Quora’s account creation is a bit b0rked in Chrome so I thought I’d post here as well.

MySpace is, in almost every way, irrevocably broken now and I can’t see what it’s way out now is.  For my money, it’s management has utterly failed it – key decisions that needed to be made about it’s API, it’s useage and it’s purpose have not been addressed and the site is not only falling into irrelevance, but have actually dented the case for social media tools as marketing devices.

Every serious musician I know now uses Soundcloud.  With it’s useful services and it’s careful restrictions over spamming and community management, it is gradually usurping MySpace’s position as the go-to page to hear new music.

Speaking as a once dedicated MySpace user in my capacity as a musician, rather than my capacity as a web developer, MySpace’s biggest problem was not the design and brand of the site, but it’s handling and filtering of messaging between users.  Far from being a useful tool to manage your fanbase, the site has devolved into a spam machine.  This failure to manage the signal to noise ratio has left it unusable, either as a social network or as a marketing tool – it left it’s communication channels far too open to abuse.

Part of the blame for this lies with MySpace’s failure to manage it’s API which led to third-party friend-finder type applications having free reign to harvest friend additions, and a poor set of account management tools to allow users to manage their preferences, friend additions and filter the communications they recieve.

The vast majority of activity on the site is now worthless – literally just bands (and bots) screaming at each other to buy their record or come to their event (regardless of whether or not you even live in the same city or like the same music!!).  I have left my band page up as a shopfront, minimising the information on there and just providing a landing page for those curious about our work – MySpace still has some cachet in this area and it’s probably still worth maintaining a presence on the site for most artists.  The page management tools and the look and feel of the site have been vastly improved, however I fear that this is too little too late, and if they had spent more time actually understanding the importance of managing the flow of information in a useful, user-centric manner, they would not have fallen into the well of irrelevance they now find themselves in.