Fighting to remain relevant, the social networking site MySpace has finally launched its much anticipated redesign. The new service has a strong focus on music and music discovery, optimizing the site for both artists and their fans. MySpace’s focus on music has influenced its features and interface, making the service completely different than all the other popular social networks.
Users are still able to post status updates and see the activity feed of their friends, but the main focus is on music. If you’re looking for a place to interact with just your friends and not with bands, the musical components of the website will definitely get in the way. Everything about the new MySpace is optimized for music, from the search to the prominent navigational features.
In a smart move, MySpace has pulled the best elements from Grooveshark, Windows 8, Facebook and its older version to create a unique place for artists and their fans to connect and share their passions. Here are five ways the new MySpace is different than anything else.
MySpace has taken some inspiration from the new Windows 8 tiles interface and spread its content horizontally rather than vertically. This new design looks gorgeous on tablets, such as the iPad mini, but, like Windows 8 itself, takes a little adjustment on desktop computers. The horizontal layout gives the website a much more modern feel compared to traditional websites.
The audio player is now front and center, always available at the bottom of the screen. While the older version of MySpace also has streaming music, the new player is part of the website’s design instead of a popup. Just as with Grooveshark, you can create a playlist of your favorite songs and then listen seamlessly as you browse the website.
There is also a Radio feature which creates a playlist based on your favorite artists or genres. You can start a radio playlist from any artist’s page by clicking the Play Radio button or by hovering over the radio icon in the far right corner of the music player.
You can also create Mixes, which are playlists that you can listen to and share with friends. You can add songs to a mix by hovering over the icon to the right of the track name and clicking Add to Mix. You can make mixes public or private and share them with friends. Commenting is also supported for mixes, allowing your friends to give feedback about your music selections.
We were hard pressed to find a band or artist that was not represented on MySpace. When we searched, we found even the most obscure bands, including A Flock of Seagulls, Jesus Jones, the Vapors and the Dropkick Murphys. Each artist has 5 to 10 songs available for free streaming. Almost all the hits were available, allowing us to listen and create playlists with our favorite tracks as well as some new ones.
The new MySpace lets you get even more creative with your profile, which now supports cover photos rather than just themes. Cover photos are huge, taking up almost an entire screen, rather than being relegated to just a banner position as with Facebook and Twitter. The themes on MySpace’s old version provided a lot of different customization options, but this new layout delivers the ultimate blank slate for your own personal style.
Tom won’t be your first friend when you sign up for an account with the new MySpace, but even if he was still around, he would be a connection rather than a friend. The new system is built around “People,” a group which includes both individual people, artists and entire bands. When you follow a person, they become a connection, just like friending people or liking pages on Facebook.
When you subscribe to people, their updates begin showing up in your stream, which can be accessed from the MySpace home screen by clicking on the Stream tab in the top right corner. Unfortunately, not all artists are very active on the new MySpace yet, as we connected with 12 bands and only two had any updates and the most recent was from 2012.
You can search any time, from any screen, on the new MySpace by just starting to type. This global search covers different verticals, such as songs, artists, albums, mixes and videos. From the search screen, you can navigate to relevant artist’s pages, add songs to your queue or mixes, or connect with People. It also displays your percentage Affinity score, which is a representation of your connection with the person or artist.