Even as MySpace (NSDQ: NWS) has floundered in recent years, it’s hung on to an important user base-artists, particularly musicians, who have relied on the site to provide them with a digital home on the web and a place to showcase their work. Now that the site has laid off half its employees, some folks are wondering if the site is in its death throes. If MySpace’s downhill slide continues, where its small but most-important constituency-musicians-will head?
The most logical destination would seem to be the truly dominant social-networking site: Facebook. But Facebook just hasn’t caught on among musicians in the same way MySpace has, at least not yet. And it doesn’t have the same tools to play or discover new music that made MySpace so popular for music fans, even though the latter’s own tools were far from perfect.
Other possible destinations abound, and, unlike during the heydey of MySpace, the web has a bunch of high-quality music services now. Those sites include The Sixty One, Sellaband, Bandcamp, Pledge Music, Tunecore and last.fm. But none of those sites have the userbase of a MySpace or a Facebook. And there’s a question as to whether there are simply too many of them. If it’s about really connecting with users on the web, no band is really going to want to do that at seven different sites. That would create a fractured landscape for fans and musicians alike.
“Ultimately, MySpace is leaving a big hole,” writes musician and ex-Last.fm PR guy Christian Ward. “The site did focus attention, however briefly… Are we going to get lost in all this noise?”
The MySpace phenomenon suggests there’s some desire among musicians to serve a single site where music fans come together. For now, it looks like the online music landscape will be more fragmented. But there’s surely opportunity for a service that can reduce that fragmentation.