MySpace released a statement saying that all songs, photos, and videos uploaded more than three years ago have been lost, amounting to 12 years of lost content and over 50 million deleted songs from 14 million artists. The loss was the result of a failed “server migration project.” In one of the most understated responses in corporate history, MySpace has said that they “apologize for any inconvenience.”
In the early-2000s, MySpace was the world’s biggest social media network. Founded in 2003, the site exploded in popularity, beating Google as the internet’s most visited site in 2006.
Though the site is obviously nowhere near that in popularity today, the platform played an instrumental role in popularizing modern online music distribution. Through MySpace, artists and their fans could interact with each other directly, without having to go through any corporate middlemen. In the age of Twitter, this may seem mundane, but back then the idea of sharing a platform with your favorite artist was novel and exciting. Artists self-promoted their own image and music in what was seen as a large scale extension of the underground, DIY scene. With social media like MySpace, the playing field between major label artists and underground acts was leveled, something that remains true today with platforms like Soundcloud, YouTube, and Bandcamp.
Several popular artists of the early 2000s including Arctic Monkeys, Hollywood Undead, Owl City, and Sean Kingston first gained popularity through MySpace. As the 2000s raged on, MySpace was dethroned by the massive launch of Facebook, a service originally available only to college students. After losing the mainstream social media battle to Zuckerberg, MySpace rebranded in 2011 to focus on its strength: music. The website was purchased by none other than Justin Timberlake and would go on to change hands over the next few years.
MySpace’s data loss is a loss for modern music history. The website offered a fascinating look into the beginnings of today’s online musical landscape. It’s baffling that a website that has done little more than exist for the past 10 years can completely destroy their legacy in just one move. For this, Tom, we will never forgive you. It’s finally time to unfriend.