Image from: MySpace
The Internet has been a buzz recently with news that MySpace has acquired 1 million users as of December of 2011. Given that they’ve been on the down-swing for past two plus years, one would think this would be an indication that things are turning around. With a new music player in the market, one that includes a Facebook integration, MySpace is clearly moving away from being a contender in the social networking space and toward the music streaming space.
I admit it, l’m a skeptic! When I first heard news of the 1 million new users I definitely thought, “Really?!”
From a statistical stand-point, there are a number of ways to make numbers dance. While we’re on the topic of adding users to the service I often wonder what counting methodology is used for coming to this number. In particular, I’d wonder if they are double-counting individuals or some how changing the way they’re calculating “new users”. For example, is the current user base exhibiting certain behaviors such as dumping and re-adding accounts? While seemingly unintuitive, I’ve found that this is a common practice in the social space. Are users that have been inactive counted as new? Have the parameters for how long a user has been inactive before they’re counted as new changed? While there are a number of questions about how this one million is calculated that we’re likely to not get answers on, lets turn to the competitive data to take a temperature on performance.
To take a look the site’s overall performance in terms of popularity, loyalty, and engagement below are the graphs for the past two years of activity for UV’s, visits, and average stay respectively.
Average Stay -46% YOY and down -4% MOM
The new competitive landscape MySpace vs. Other Music Streaming Services.
In this comparison, MySpace and Pandora are clear leaders in the space however we’re unable to see a music player engagement count on Spofity. We all know that Spotify’s popularity has been growing significantly since it’s release in June 2011, however the application player being 100% desktop application obfuscates our ability to understand user engagement with the service. Actually, many of these other services offer both a music player in browser as well as a desktop-application, but for sake of comparison we’ll focus on the segment of users that use the site as a primary streaming source.
In terms of incoming traffic, there aren’t any indications in January’s data of prospective partnerships that drove traffic and new users to MySpace.com. Moreover it’s curious that the speculated the size of MySpace’s user base at around 30 million, if we take the reported 1 million “new” users and divide it by the speculated user base this increase would be about a 3% bump. Given that we aren’t seeing lift in Compete.com numbers or other competitive sources for that matter, it’s concerning that the organization is boasting such growth.
What Pandora lacks in popularity it makes up in loyalty, users come back on average almost 7 times a month, thus beating out all the other services by a healthy margin. Additionally, they have a desktop application for paid users so again, we’re missing a full read on this activity and I’d venture a guess that paid users of the service are significantly more engaged.
I acknowledge that MySpace is in transition, and while I’ve called into question their method of counting these one million new users, I’m not willing to pronounce MySpace dead yet. I think it could shift it’s brand image and contend with the other music streaming services, though I have both questions and reservations, such as:
- What will be their monetizing strategy? Having the largest library of free music to stream, likely won’t work long term.
- How will they garner attention? They aren’t new to the market, and have significant work to do in terms of changing people’s attitude about the brand. As a side note, I gave the music player a shake and it’s pretty nifty. Thus far they only have converted about 2% of my Facebook friends, I think they would have created better buzz by releasing the player beta invites to a small sub-set of the user base to promote exclusivity (something the brand has never quite got the hang of touting).
- What’s the competitive and/or user incentive? Outside of the largest music library what will make the “new” MySpace sticky? Are we placated in thinking that more is somehow better?
- What do you think? Do you share my skepticism on the methodology behind the one million new user, or do you trust the calculation? Leave me your Comments below or @ me on twitter.
Lindsey Mark works in Client Relations at Compete and is responsible for the strategic development of client retention and support policies for compete.com, with a focus on education and training efforts. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY so she's a certified technology junkie and open source advocate. When she's not thinking about marketing or training digital 007's at compete, she's doing yoga & blogging about gluten-free diet and lifestyle. Find Lindsey on Twitter as @linji, Google Plus as Lindsey Mark or connect with her via LinkedIn.