MySpace has just pulled the wraps off their brand new redesign. . . again and it’s . . . . confusing is the best word I can come up with at the moment. MySpace is supposed to be a social network and we’ve all heard that the new version will be about music. This is because indie musicians were the last group of people to abandon ship, kind of like the band on the deck of the Titanic.
Here’s the splash screen they unveiled this morning:
If I was coming in cold, I’d think this was the front page of an article about Justin Timberlake for a men’s fashion magazine. The fine print tells me that “Suit and Tie” is the name of Timberlake’s new single featuring Jay Z. Ah, now we’ve gone from fashion to music. If you look at the really fine print down in the lower corner, you see that this is indeed MySpace. But the big Join and Sign In buttons make it seem like I’m signing up for Justin’s mailing list.
I bravely chose Sign In but instead of using my old MySpace login (which I can’t remember), I chose the Facebook login option. My information was populated automatically and then I hit this screen.
Interesting. I am a writer, so I picked that one. The average person not involved in the creative arts or the music biz would choose Fan, I suppose. The Brand option implies that I can sign up for a business page. Could be useful for anyone who sells T-shirts, tickets or music memorabilia. Curator? For someone who wants to run a fansite dedicated to a specific genre, era or singer?
From here it gets weirder. If you enjoy discovering things on your own, then you’ll love the lack of instructions and obvious navigational signals. I dipped my fingers into the pool by trying a search.
Will you look a the size of that type! It’s as if they know my vision is lousy and they did this just for me. This isn’t even full size, I had to shrink the screengrab to make it fit. I chose a Taylor Swift song and was taken to a page that looks like iTunes. Clicking randomly, I found a button that “connects” me to her song “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” Then I found a drop down that let me add it to a mix I created called BreakUp songs.
After that, I was lost. So I went to the bottom and clicked on my name. Why not? That took me back to my MySpace which was blank except for my profile box. Where’s the song I just added? I found a link to Post, so I clicked it then typed my status which appeared in Land of the Giants letters. Then the post disappeared, too.
Hmmm. . .
It took me a few seconds to realize that MySpace scrolls sideways. Sure enough, I found all my activity hidden on the right side of my screen. (In the future, side scrolling will become more intuitive than it is now thanks to tablets, but for the moment, it’s not natural.)
Here’s what I found. I still don’t know what the giant white space to the left is for. I think it will be a feed for my connections – when I get some.
As for my activity feed, it’s a bit repetitious. Do I really need a listing of every action on the same song?
At the bottom of the site is a music player. You can add songs as you travel around the site and I can see the benefit in that feature. It’s out of the way but still handy so you can sample new music or play your favorite songs while you browse the site. I tried to add Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and got tangled in the odd navigation structure again.
That’s when I called it quits.
What MySpace has here is a good idea. It’s the same good idea iTunes had when they tried to build a social network. Streaming music is huge and to combine that with community, news, and social sharing – it’s smart. What’s not smart is the branding. I think they would have been better off if they retired the MySpace name and went with a new, music-oriented name. There’s no value in promoting a brand that died years ago. If they’re counting on the old users to come back, forget it. They don’t need them. What they need, is a fresh, young audience who has never been on MySpace before.
I hope the site succeeds. I think it could end up becoming a model for all kinds of niches. If there was a site like this for TV fans, I’d join in a heartbeat.