Justin Timberlake unveiled the new MySpace last week with a tweet containing a link to a video preview of the new site. In addition to a very catchy song, the video revealed a beautiful website with a clean, Pinterest-esque design.
The site, it turns out, doesn't only look entirely different from what you might picture when you think of one of the original social networks, it's also going to be an entirely different type of network. It is a website for connecting artists -- music artists, to start -- with their fans.
Timberlake first planted the seed at MySpace when he became part owner of Specific Media, the company that bought MySpace from News Corps. in 2011. And the Hollywood jack-of-all-trade's fingerprints are all over the future new MySpace. It's a completely new product; it will live separately from the classic MySpace, and will be rolling out to a wider audience and those who have requested invites before the end of the year.
Those are just a couple of things we learned when we caught up with the MySpace brothers running MySpace -- Tim Vanderhook, the CEO of Specific Media, and Chris Vanderhook, the COO. Here's what they said:
What is the new MySpace? How is it different from the classic MySpace?
Tim: We tried to build a social network for the creative community to connect to their fans and for fans to have a great experience as well to explore and find out more about the artists they love.
You can use other social networks to log onto it, right?
Tim: No one wants to manage another social network. We think it is unique and distinct, it integrates with Facebook and Twitter to be able to pull over your social graph and pull over your identity of who you are. We think Facebook is the uber social network that is supposed to be there. We think we built a great social network for artists. Similar to how LinkedIn built one for business, we think there is a huge gap that we wanted to fulfill. There is no point to compete with Facebook and Twitter.
What is the site called? Will there be two sites now?
Chris: It's referred to right now as the new MySpace. The point is to show a difference between the MySpace classic and the new MySpace.
Tim: There will be a separate section for our consumer base using the classic MySpace. We are going to leave it up for quite awhile. We will make a decision at a later date if we will ever take down the old property.
What inspired the design that is shown in the video?
Chris: My Space started originally back in 2003 and their platform was built on a code base from 2003. Even up to today, the MySpace classic site is built on 2003 code. The world is a much different place, now we have tablets, smartphones, connected TVs. We wanted to build for today and for the future. A lot of the elements from the design is built for widescreen formats for tablets and smartphones. We had the great ability to just build for the future and not compensate for the past.
When will the new MySpace launch?
Chris: You won't see a traditional launch out of us, you'll see it on a rolling basis. We are in a beta period now with artists, managers, DJs, tastemakers. Our employees, which is a little over 700, have been on the site for a few months now. The next to get the invites will the MySpace loyalists and we will continue to roll out invites for the foreseeable future.
So, there won't be a hard launch?
Tim: You're not going to see a moment in time launch from MySpace. We will open up huge swaths of invites as we roll out.
Chris: Another note on the reason we are doing the rolling launch versus the traditional launch: We know we are the underdog. For us it is a little too presumptuous to do a big huge, bang, Steve Jobs launch. That's not our brand and its not right for MySpace. We want to be able to prove everything that we want to do.
How involved has Justin Timberlake been in the project?
Tim: Justin is really involved. He invested in the company and is a part owner of it and has assisted in the development of what the new Myspace is all about. He has instituted a creative team here where we have injected artists as part of the company as well. We work with his creative team. Chris and I were just on the phone with him yesterday. We talk to him on a constant basis. The seed of what we have built stemmed from his vision of what MySpace should be.
Will the site go beyond being a place just for music artists to connect with fans?
Tim: It's for all artists. We think there is an opportunity for all artists, whether you are a filmmaker, producer or a recording artist. We think the idea to create something unique and drive a connection with a fan base has a lot of equity.
Do you have a plan for apps?
Chris: We connected and built the design to live across different devices. You will definitely see those offerings from us.
You sure you don't want to tell me when the site will launch to the public that has been signing up for invites?
Chris: There are consumers we are thinking of opening it up to. There are 5 million artists who use the platform and we need to make sure we serve them well. After we go through that, we will go right to consumers. I believe consumers who are making the requests will be on in due time.
Before the end of the year?
Tim: Yes, before the end of the year.