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The new Myspace: SexyBack, or Dead and Gone?

Justin Timberlake and Co. are trying to revive Myspace with great design. But can anyone save this social network?

Ben Parr
Ben Parr is co-founder of #DominateFund, an early-stage venture capital fund; a CNET commentator; and the former co-editor of Mashable.
Ben Parr
3 min read
Myspace's new design is gorgeous, but will it be enough? Myspace

You have to hand it to Myspace: every time you think it's Dead and Gone, it comes back with a new engine and a new coat of a paint.

After months of work and a change of owners headlined by Justin Timberlake, the beaten and battered social network is ready to spread its wings and show itself off to the world.

The result? An absolutely gorgeous website that tries to solve problems that Pandora, Spotify, and Vevo have already conquered.

I decided to crash Myspace's press event on Thursday (sorry Ketchum PR, I was in the area!). Luckily, instead of kicking me out, the Myspace team gave me a 30-minute tour of the new site. In fact, it was like a proud mother showing off her new baby.

And proud they should be -- the new Myspace is absolutely gorgeous. It's infused with vivid imagery, a clean interface, and a very responsive design. Profile pages are filled with full-screen cover photos. Browsing through your friends' activity is like scrolling through a collection on Pinterest. And the music player that follows you across every page you visit is simple to control.

The site has shed many of its longstanding features in favor of a site that focuses exclusively on music. Thanks to its pre-existing licensing deals, Myspace has access to a music library that rivals Spotify. It allows you to create countless playlists and, of course, share them with your friends.

Of course, the new Myspace doesn't stop there. It's essentially a Spotify, Pandora, and Vevo competitor wrapped up into one. Users can watch music videos, create online streaming playlists and launch customized radio stations. Basically, the team tried to think of anything you'd want to do with an online music site and incorporated it into the product.

This ends up being both a good thing and a bad thing. Don't get me wrong -- it's a pleasure consuming content in the new Myspace, but it's tough to know where to begin. And because it has so many music streaming features, it's tough to discern the site's true identity. Is it a music discovery platform? Is it a place to share your favorite music? Is it a place to follow what your favorite artists are doing? I don't know, but "all of the above" is not a good answer.

It also doesn't do anything that Spotify, Pandora, and Vevo don't already do. I can get higher quality music videos on Vevo. I can bring my Spotify playlist with me wherever I go and use it offline. And Pandora's had years to perfect its music algorithms.

The new Myspace has many features. Perhaps one too many. Myspace

Myspace will come out with a mobile version soon, and I could imagine people using it as an alternative to Spotify or Pandora instead of ponying up to remove the ads. Myspace's new design is clearly its greatest strength, and it has a lot of music to entice and hook users. But, at the moment, it simply has too many features and tries to be too many things.

Myspace can fix those problems, though. But whether it can court enough music lovers is suspect, even with Timberlake as its face and voice. The problem is that Myspace, as a brand, is permanently damaged in the minds of millions. It's the ugly social network that failed to fend off Facebook. It's gone through countless reinventions, none of which could save it from obscurity.

The team would probably be better off ditching the Myspace brand and starting fresh, because Myspace simply has too many bad connotations to overcome, and it would be a shame if this site failed because of those connotations. I fear that its beautiful design will be overwhelmed by an overabundance of features and a brand that is synonymous with failure.