You can not have fail to notice that Myspace is in terminal decline. Barely an update in a year, it has become largely redundant as a social platform as the ubiquitous Facebook outstrips them on every level. And everyone hates it! It’s cluttered with ugly, heavy designs and the music player is flakier than an dandruff ridden scalp. But as a promotional platform for musicians it’s still #1 right? Well not so according to a recent article on paidContent.org which suggests that Myspace is losing the music promotion battle to Google owned online video giant YouTube.
A high-level examination of the top-ten most-played songs makes the shift abundantly clear. During the same period, the ten most-played music videos on YouTube racked 57.3 million views, while the top ten on MySpace Music generated 7.5 million.
OK, so YouTube is a better medium for the big players to reach their audience (if you were looking to hear the latest Metallica track, would you really start with Myspace?), but what about unsigned/independent/underground bands and musicians, is Myspace still a safe bet for them?
The competition in the market is rife, with various new websites that are beating Myspace at their own game and in a more forward thinking, agile and, most importantly, band/consumer friendly way. Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Nimbit all have their own take on social music promotion and streaming. Variously offering full digital download ecommerce, more advanced and portable/embedded streaming, extensive social functions and fresh, flexible layouts. However, for the moment at least, Myspace has something that the rest of the pack (YouTube excepting) don’t have – ubiquity.
Being the pre-eminent destination to ‘check out’ new bands is not something to be sniffed at. Heard of this great band Coffinworm and want to find out what they sound like? Do you go looking for their website? No, you simply type in to Google ‘Coffinworm myspace’ and go check them out there. Every band has one – Myspace is like the Yellow Pages of bands. Even if you weren’t specifically looking for Coffinworm’s Myspace, or any other band, their Myspace is usually the first Google listing you see. The Myspace domain carries a lot of weight, and even though the profile pages are pretty dodgy from an SEO perspective, they tend to rank quickly and highly, usually above the band’s own website. It will take literally years for the competitors to build up that level of Google love.
So bands, as much as you may despise Myspace, and are charmed by Bandcamp’s swanky (and in reality far superior) features, it’s not time to bail on Myspace just yet. However, you can’t spread your promotional effort across Myspace and all the other new players, and neither should you. From a search perspective, centring all your web activity around a single base is absolutely essential lest you should spread your SEO love too thinly. My advice is to attempt a smooth and steady transition to another service, while still keeping your Myspace pretty fresh. Gradually move your SEO focus over to the new profile and centre your promotional activity there only when that starts to rank in the search engine results at a similar level to your Myspace. You’re probably going to have to do this at some point, so why not start now.
Bands just starting out should look at what other bands in their genre are doing. If there is a particularly strong presence on Myspace, then it may be safer to stick with that, but if there’s a real buzz elsewhere then centre your activity there but fire up a Myspace and shove a few tracks on there, as folks will still go looking there and the web presence is generally helpful.
And as for YouTube? Unless you have a promo video, then you’re looking at having to post your tracks with an album cover or some band pics, which is fine, but really you’re shoehorning. Currently, although convenient, it’s not really tailored for the job. YouTube is a really helpful promotional platform, but bands should centre their activity around a site with more focus on doing just that as you’ll soon find YouTube very limiting.
Myspace no longer suits either the bands or the fans, who are voting with their feet, but its death will be slow and painful. It may be that one or more of these rival websites has a trick up its sleeve, or perhaps some well employed venture capital, that will propel it into the general consciousness, until then hedge your bets folks.