The Resurrection of MySpace?

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought MySpace in 2005 for $580m. Yesterday it sold to an online ad company for around $35m. Few tears will be shed for Rupert’s $545m loss.

Did anyone know the true value of MySpace? More pertinently, does anyone recall the MySpace hype? Current PR hot air suggests that other media darlings will crash and burn. The huge corporate guerrillas fail to see true value because they do not understand that many of the channels actually grow, flourish and survive on their own authenticity.

So often, many pay top dollar for hype and PR muscle to inflate the market, failing to comprehend the strength of the tool they are using. Just think about reality TV, or even brands like GaGa or Cheryl Cole. They are all huge money spinners, wanted and adored for a fleeting moment in time. The market demands beautiful people with compelling narratives. However, they all take for granted the most important factor; the audience.

MySpace grew organically because it delivered value for people making music. It attracted powerful muso communities naturally grown around specific genres of music. Before it hit the dizzy heights of 300m users, it allowed ‘would be’ rock and pop stars to develop their sound and community to help market and monetise the effort in a micro way.

The big record label A&R men even bought into their own hype. Countless execs sacrificed their expense accounts and stayed at home, trawling the site for the next big thing. We were lead to believe that so many artists were discovered on MySpace -Lily Allen and Katy Perry for example – but was it true? Perhaps it’s more truthful to suggest press teams used the story mechanic to excite jaded music scribblers who had all jumped on the bandwagon eager to find a new way to sell. Remember Sandi Thom? Me neither…

The social bubble is still inflating and, despite the MySpace wake up call, the hype merchants are at it again. Justin Timberlake has apparently teamed up with a US advertising agency to help MySpace regain its dominance. Hey, when in need chuck a celebrity into the mix and let the cycle begin once again.

So there you have it – digital holy grails need to be fit to survive and usually turn to a brilliant propaganda machine to help them construct a ferocious story engine. All they need to do then is pray that it will have a seductive, hypnotic and anaesthetic effect and will draw the people inexorably in.