In November, they teamed with Interscope to create MySpace Records, a label that will release a few albums each year from bands discovered on the site. In coming months they’ll launch a MySpace satellite-radio station, new features that let users access their MySpace accounts from mobile phones and, soon, MySpace Films. With help from their new owner, News Corp. (which bought MySpace parent company Intermix in July for $580 million), Anderson and DeWolfe plan to back a few independent films each year and flood openings with MySpace members. “It costs us nothing to get millions of MySpace users to show up at events,” DeWolfe says.
It almost sounds as if they’re building a rival to Viacom’s MTV. “I think MySpace already means something to its audience in much the same way that MTV meant something to its audience during its early years,” says News Corp.’s Internet chief, Ross Levinsohn.
MySpace announced a tie-up with mobile company Helio in February:
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch hopes to extend MySpace’s influence beyond the PC. [The] popular site [has announced] a partnership with Helio, a wireless carrier backed by Internet service provider EarthLink and SK Telecom, a Korean wireless carrier which operates what’s viewed in the industry as the world’s most advanced cell-phone network. This spring, MySpace and Helio will launch a service that will let users access MySpace from their mobile phones.
For MySpace, the deal is another move to keep its users bound tightly to it, communicating with friends or listening to music from artists featured on the service. Such innovation should help MySpace avoid the fate of social-networking pioneer Friendster, whose users ended up going elsewhere when it failed to introduce new features.
The move also gives News Corp a foothold in the rapidly growing mobile market. More than 60 million teenagers now carry cell phones, and most take them everywhere they go. MySpace Mobile, which is a free service, could turn into another lucrative advertising venue for News Corp.
A number of moral issues have been raised around MySpace. Danah Boyd writes about the future and the importance of MySpace:
If MySpace falters in the next 1-2 years, it will be because of this moral panic. Before all of you competitors get motivated to exacerbate the moral panic, think again. If the moral panic succeeds:
1.Youth will lose (even more) freedom of speech. How far will the curtailment of the First Amendment go?
2.All users will lose the safety and opportunities of pseudonymity, particularly around political speech and particularly internationally.
3.Internet companies will be required to confirm the real life identity of all users. At their own cost.
4.International growth on social communities will be massively curtailed because it is much harder to confirm non-US populations.
5.Internet companies will lose the protections of common carrier which will have ramifications in all sorts of directions.
6.Internet companies will see a massive increase in subpoenas and will be forced to turn over data on their users which will in turn destroy the trust relationship between companies and users.
7.There will be a much greater barrier for new communities to form and for startups to build out new social environments.
8.International companies will be far better positioned to create new social technologies because they won’t have to abide by American laws even if American citizens use their technology (assuming the servers are hosted outside of the US). Unless, of course, we decide to block sites on a nation-wide basis…
Friendster was a fad; MySpace has become far more than that. If it doesn’t evolve, it will fade, but MySpace is far better positioned to evolve than Friendster was. That said, i think we’re seeing a huge shift in social life – negotiating super publics. I kinda suspect that MySpace teens are going to lead the way in figuring this out, just as teens in the 60s and 70s paved the way to figuring out globalized life with TV. I just hope law doesn’t try to stop culture.
So, go to MySpace.com and create your space. In doing so, try and understand what makes it tick. And think about what it takes to do a MySpace for India.