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Posted at 12:39 PM ET, 01/15/2013

Is the new MySpace the right space for you?


The New MySpace has entered “open beta,” and anyone can sign up. (Screenshot)
The new MySpace is now open to the public, but if you don’t need to check with your PR team to coordinate a roll-out strategy for your profile, it may not be what you’re looking for.

That the revamped platform has embraced the old MySpace’s robust performing artist population comes as no surprise. The site’s new owners, along with Justin Timberlake, have made no effort to hide that this latest incarnation would cater even more to the artists who use the old version of the network and provide a splashy new outlet for big-named celebrities to interact with their fans. It even offers a free new track from Timberlake — his first in six years — to new users.

“With where we were in our development, and given that Justin was releasing his first single after many years and naturally wanted to put it on MySpace,” said MySpace spokesperson Neda Azarfar, “we decided that the timing was perfect for us to lift the invite-gate and enter an open beta stage in order to make his music available to all his fans.”

Azarfar did not specify when the site stopped being invitation-only. Users who are averse to change can still access the “classic” MySpace via a small link at the very top of the new log-in page. But, if you go to myspace.com, be prepared to be redirected to new.myspace.com.

When users first sign on to the site, they are greeted by a tux-clad Timberlake staring intensely back at them. Are you sure you’re cool enough for this? he seems to ask. Brave that to log in, and it becomes immediately clear that, if you are not an avid enough fan of performing artists or seeking fans for your own work, then you’re probably wasting your time.

In order to fully take advantage of MySpace’s new look, you need at least one large photo (1024x768 pixels) for your cover photo. This is not an impossible feat for many digital natives, but is definitely an easy task for performing artists with a collection of high-resolution head-shots lying around.

Sharing links on the new MySpace is not nearly as dynamic as it is on
Facebook or even Google+, both of which pull in summary data, such as
headlines and thumbnail images. Instead, the new platform seems almost
offended by your measly little shortened URL, if it had feelings. Large photos, video and music are what it clearly craves from its users.

So, yes, the site is still very pretty. But, as TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff noted in September when the site was first teased: “‘Pretty things’ don’t win. Facebook is ugly, has 950 [million] users. Twitter? 140 [million] and boring, design-wise, for the most part. It’s content that wins.”

If that’s the case, then the new MySpace may already be going down but not yet out for the count.

A bit of exploring unearths one of the site’s more useful features: “Browse,” which allows users to to search for individuals based on gender, age, location, music interest and profile types. Among the profile types are “curator,” “brand” and, yes, even “writer/journalist.” For individuals in these fields and those interested in interacting with people in certain fields, the site hopes to fill up a pool of interesting connections that could foster new content.

If anything, the site is a reminder that perhaps it’s time to look for a niche network that serves you best, assuming MySpace doesn’t fit the bill.

So, I’m going to stick around for now and see whether more journalists, writers and curators show up. If you’re signing up today, drop me a line with your thoughts.

(The Washington Post Company’s chief executive and chairman Don Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

Kolawole is the editor of Ideas@Innovations.

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By  |  12:39 PM ET, 01/15/2013

 
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