Aussie agency Josephmark bagged the Myspace account back in 2011 and is leading its global transformation. Madeleine Ross caught up with CD Jessica Huddart who talked us through its chic new layout, customisable news feeds and gamification.
How did your Myspace partnership come about?
We started working with them in September 2011. Once Myspace was bought by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake they sent out a global tender to five agencies, most of which were in the US. We responded with a clear vision that was fortunately in line with what they were thinking and we've been working with them ever since. We were quite overwhelmed!
Talk us through the redesign.
The site bridges the gap between being a music product and a social network. We are looking at the site and the target market in three segments or themes: creative, curative and consumers.
Rather than looking at demographics, even though a lot of people have been saying it's aimed at young musicians right now, we are focusing on the whole creative community and using this as a platform for self expression, starting with music, because Myspace has the largest music catalogue in the world. It was a really logical place to start.
Also, given Justin Timberlake's experience as a musician and as a creative in general, a lot of his thoughts and ideas have been taken into account.
Since it was in beta testing phase, have there been any major design changes?
The artist profiles never used to have a panel which showed their top 10 tracks, their top fans and similar artists. We have brought these to the forefront of the profiles so that when we get to a musician's profile we instantly know he's a musician.
The beauty is that artists can see who their top fans are and they will be able to directly reach out to those fans. Likewise, as a fan of an artist I can see who else is also a fan, which may lead me to connect with them.
I found out recently that I'm Flight Facility's number one fan, so my headshot shows up in their top 10 for everyone else to see. If I knew anyone who was also a fan of Flight Facility, they would appear in here as well and I would be able to see how far they were far behind me.
So we're starting to bring a bit of gamification into the top 10s and get people vying for that number one position.
How do you become an artist's number one fan?
You need to connect to the artist first. Then it's about sharing their content, using their content and promoting them. In the future, we hope to have ways artists can reward their top 10.
Anything else that stands out?
We've designed a three-pronged approach to discovery. Essentially we have socially curated content as well as Myspace editorial, and then also algorithmic based results.
For example, the music chart is based on how many plays something has had, whereas the people's chart would be based on how much you've got in common with others on Myspace, and then trending is actually custom editorial that Myspace is creating itself.
So it makes for a really rich discovery experience.
What about the newsfeed, or the stream? How will that work?
We'll be giving this a facelift soon. On Facebook you only get delivered certain things in your home feed, but in Myspace we are showing everything. I guess it's a lot more of an honest approach. You can see everything in real-time that is being added. To cut down on information overload, we have filters that can customise the stream.
What kind of marketing potential does it hold for brands? Will brands be able to set up profiles?
Absolutely. A brand can create a page. We are not across all the talks Myspace is having with brands, but this is definitely being factored into the plan.
Technology is moving so rapidly. How are you future-proofing the site?
When we started we really wanted to make a design that would still be relevant in years to come. We don't know what the future is going to hold in terms of how people will be using the internet but we are striving for timeless designs that transcend the fast-moving nature of the internet.
We're looking at mobile platforms first to inform how the desktop experience might work, because we know that's where the trend is going. The current design works well as a native touch screen on a phone or a tablet.
We've tried to use as much real estate as possible. Hardware is going in two directions – it's getting really big and it's getting really small.
Whilst we'll have a completely separate experience for mobile, which will be unveiled when the site launches completely, the desktop experience is aimed at large real estate. It's the reason why we've gone with almost a full screen cover image.
What's the feedback been from the testing phase?
We've been overwhelmed by the response, it's been really good in terms of design and user experience. We've found, especially from artists, musicians and photographers, that they are finding it really useful and they've told us about other features they'd like to see.
When does the new Myspace go live?
We don't have a set date but it will be sooner rather than later.