Back in the heady days of 2006 to 2008, when Myspace was the king of the Internet, the site promoted itself through a series of secret music shows. Myspace users received online alerts two or three days ahead of time, and if they showed up to the performance venue they were treated to a small concert by a major artist — for free. Some of the biggest names in the recording industry participated in the low-profile shows, including Fall Out Boy, Neko Case, Lily Allen, Maroon 5, and The Cure.
Sadly, that version of Myspace is dead and gone. After Facebook became the primary way to connect with friends and family online, Myspace’s users dwindled until eventually the company was sold by News Corp at a bargain rate to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake in 2011.
Since then, the site has undergone a lot of dramatic changes. The brightly-colored (and occasionally sparkly) layout was replaced with a more modern, cleaner, horizontally scrolling home page. Rather than a lot of teen blogs and garage bands, the site now boasts participation by major Internet companies like Instant Checkmate and pop stars like Rihanna. But there is one thing that has carried over from the old Myspace: live concerts as a promotional tool.
One of the biggest efforts to use the power of live music to draw attention to once-dominant social network was Bud Light’s “50/50/1” music event. Myspace and the beer brand had an audacious plan to host fifty concerts in fifty states all on August 1st, 2013. The lineup featured some famous and critically acclaimed bands (The Flaming Lips played in Las Vegas, Nevada) and some less famous up-and-comers. Five of the concerts were streamed live on Myspace.
The country-wide concerts went off without a hitch.
Small Shows For Big Stars
That was a America-spanning blowout media event, but Myspace hasn’t forgotten the fun charm of the secret show. For the Austin, Texas festival South By Southwest 2013, Justin Timberlake performed a little-hyped 45 minute set sponsored by Myspace. For a pop star who is accustomed to performing in arenas that hold tens of thousands of fans, the 800-person crowd must have felt much more intimate. Unsuprisingly, many of those in attedance taped the show and later uploaded it to youtube and other video-sharing sites. The reviews of the event later praised the small show as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch a world class entertainer perform at his peak.
Myspace has made music central to its marketing and rebranding efforts. Users are now able to create playlists from a huge database of tunes, something that you couldn’t do with the old version of the social media site. As Myspace continues to grow (and by all indications it is growing), it’s bound to focus on the power of live music even more than it did in its previous incarnation. The only questions are: who will be performing next, and how do you find out about the shows in time to see them?