After Losing 12 Years of Content, What is Left of MySpace?
Since the spring of 2018, MySpace has been telling users that the broken links and unplayable media files from the archived accounts of their glory years was simply due a server issue that was “being worked on”. This week, the pioneering social media company has finally confirmed that anything uploaded before 2015 “may no longer be available on or from MySpace”.
“As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from MySpace,” the website issued in a statement. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Reactions to the the news from the former social media giant have been mixed. While some folks who have long lost the passwords to their former band pages and personal profiles are glad to have potentially embarrassing photos, videos or audio flushed from the internet, there has also been an overwhelming outcry from a music community who are grieving the loss of over 50 million archived songs covering a 12 year span.
While some of the material may live on in analog or digital formats —such as Bandcamp, SoundCloud, or all the other paid services to stream music — there is much more content that has been less carefully handled and will likely vanish with the crashing history of the once iconic platform.
During the MySpace peak, the site had millions of registered users and even outranked Google as the most visited website in the US in 2006. The most positive and lasting aspect of MySpace’s legacy will always be the network it created for independent musicians, record labels, producers and multimedia artists to build a community, an audience, and in some cases a career. Ultimately, it is this history of what the community created that has been lost in MySpace’s monumental misstep.
Over the years, the popularity of MySpace has diminished to the rise of modern social media juggernauts such as Facebook and Twitter. Bands and musicians splintered off to Facebook pages, and more streamlined music sharing platforms such as Bandcamp or SoundCloud.
The value of MySpace has drastically dropped over the last decade. After being sold to Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp for over $500m USD in 2005, the company was dropped six years later to Specific Media for $35m USD in 2011.
Specific Media LLC is promoted as “a global media company that offers advertising solutions and multi-screen/multi-format targeting capabilities to brand advertisers”. In 2016, Specific Media — via their parent company Viant — was bought by Time Inc: the publisher of magazines including Time, People and NME.
In a 2016 report from The Guardian, Viant claimed to have “data from 1 billion registered users” from the MySpace database, which would be studied to “help target digital ads more effectively”.
Once the user data was absorbed, it is possible that the MySpace media archive from 2003-2015 wasn’t worth the storage or upkeep. While you might be bummed out that your high school pop punk band’s demo no longer has it’s original home on the internet, it is probably because it was no longer profitable for the company. Unfortunately, your two drunken revisits a year wasn’t drumming up any ad revenue.
Now devoid of their culture-rich archive from the mid-2000s, what is left of MySpace? Activity of the platform is niche at best, and there has seemed to be little effort taken to reinvent what was once the hub of online youth culture.
Even if MySpace has long been destined as a Wikipedia footnote in the history of social media, the importance of the now terminated archive will never be understated to some users who leaned heavily on the platform as a reliable source for a nostalgia trip, or for a musical repository of days gone by.