As MySpace celebrates its seventh birthday it’s undergoing a major facelift, although it’s unclear whether this cosmetic surgery is addressing the inherent problems in the network architecture. The main challenge the business is facing, beyond user retention and attraction, is reaching profitability.
Recently MySpace made a couple of moves to address this by selling bulk user data and integrating ticket sales into its new MySpace Events product. At a time when Facebook is getting raked over the coals for its questionable approach to privacy, MySpace has made user data a publicly traded commodity.
Research institutions, music data analysts, agencies and others can purchase data associated with user-generated content such as playlists, mood updates, mobile updates, photos reviews and blog posts. Some data about users themselves will also be available, including names and postcodes, but not friend lists. As long as the data itself isn’t attributable to individuals and is sold transparently, MySpace should escape some of the thornier ethical questions under debate.
It’s difficult for most social networks to collect, manage, analyse and commercialise data with the granularity required by advertisers. By automating much of the aggregation and distribution, MySpace lets customers use their own resources to harness the data. This is an easy way for MySpace to diversify its income streams.
MySpace Events is interesting. Thousands of promoters, venues and artists already use the social network to promote events. The improved calendar provides tools to create, discover, share and manage events in MySpace, but also across other social networks.
Adding ticketing is another way to diversify income, but affiliate fees are insignificant without volume-based deals. If MySpace were to charge for professionally managed events by offering a premium service, including the important data they’re selling elsewhere in other forms, it could build a meaningful business similar to London-based startups like Spoonfed, which I invested in last year. If it could service artist profiles with complete merchandising and commerce capabilities beyond ticketing, again it could build meaningful revenue. Building these features takes a long time, so being able to partner with or buy companies that can plug into the platform is key to commercial success.
There are several opportunities for MySpace to continue to grow and prove it’s not a has-been. It could become the world’s top online music shop for advertisers or film and TV producers given that its parent is one of the biggest buyers of music; music supervisors already use MySpace to source content for their productions. It could offer integrated SMS and data packages like Spanish social network Tuente, recently bought by Telefonica for $70m. And adding a geo-location feature to events and profiles, as Facebook is predicted to be doing, could enhance the events experience and give Gowalla and Foursquare a run for their money.
This post was provided by the kind people over at NMA.co.uk