THE LEFSETZ LETTER: MySpace

If I read one more article how MySpace is the future of the music industry, how it's the place to break bands, I'm gonna PUKE!

MySpace sucks. If you don't know this, you don't use it.

Let's learn from Google. Make it work quickly. Without glitches. And, if you're exploring something new, if you're venturing into the frontier, say it's BETA, so the customer will give you a break.

What screwed up AOL?

When you couldn't get a connection. Oh, everybody's rewriting history. Talking about the tech help in India. The buggy software. But the true reason AOL's image took a hit was people were PAYING for the service, and couldn't USE IT! Nobody's paying for MySpace, but it works even WORSE than AOL did ten years ago.


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

Let's start off with Mac-compatibility. MySpace CRASHES on a Mac. Don't tell me Macs only make up 4% of the market. The figure is MUCH HIGHER in the home. That number is depressed because corporations buy PCs a hundred at a time. But even if the percentage is low, how come the site can't work on a Mac? God, Steve Jobs wouldn't be able to SELL a Mac if every site crashed the browser. Even MSN GROUPS, hosted by the ENEMY, work fine on a Mac. Doesn't ANYBODY in MySpace land realize they've got a problem? And that Mac users are incredibly vocal and spreading ill will as I write this? Eager to go somewhere ELSE?

But it's not only Mac users who are screwed. At best, MySpace runs at a glacial pace. What's the story, after being able to buy the site Fox couldn't afford any SERVERS? Isn't that like buying a Ferrari and filling it with regular gas? Or maybe it's a software issue. Couldn't they rewrite it? Or at least post a sign on the site to bear with them, they're under construction? In cyberspace, honesty and transparency are key. Whereas Fox censored YouTube from MySpace. Good job of making friends and influencing people. Doesn't the company know in cyberspace that the truth will out and soon EVERYBODY will know it? And although Fox reversed course, there was no big mea culpa. Rupert Murdoch being like our President, who never ever seems to make a mistake, never mind apologize for it.

Then there's the illusion that MySpace breaks bands.

Well, they've got some acts on the homepage. But who goes to the homepage on MySpace? Don't you just go directly to the pages/
profiles you want to? And, even if they hype acts on the homepage, what's revolutionary about this? What makes this different from AOL, Yahoo and MSN? NOTHING!

MySpace is like the only club in town. And as soon as a better one opens, that treats its patrons better, the clientele will abandon it in DROVES!

The key to MySpace is the free hosting of music. That's what made it supersede Friendster. But is this so hard to replicate? Just buy enough of the aforementioned servers and VOILA, you're in business.

And, almost all the music on MySpace is streamed. And this screwed up country without a broadband policy has got some of the slowest broadband in the world. There's not fat enough PIPE to listen to a song streamed on MySpace and do almost ANYTHING ELSE on your computer. Maybe not MySpace's fault, but if the word is being spread that you're breaking bands…

And, there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BANDS on MySpace. There's no filter. If you want to break bands, you've got to have a hierarchy, recommendations. Hell, that's why Top Forty radio broke through to BEGIN WITH! And maybe you need more than forty tracks, but a program director/picker with brains is ESSENTIAL!

You can't reach critical mass on MySpace any easier than you can on your own site. It's just that MySpace will give you a site FOR FREE! Then again, how easy is it to find? The URL contains "myspace". It's not just the band's name.

Maybe the new site, the new club, should host bands' music under their OWN URL. And deliver other features. Charts. Other music specific elements that will help the public wade through the plethora of music. AND, you can charge for the hosting. If you deliver a reasonable product, people will pay.

And maybe the focus should be on DOWNLOADING the music as opposed to streaming it. So people can e-mail it to others, take it with them on their iPods, OWN IT! Hell, this is how you break acts, not by keeping the music LOCKED UP!

But most people in the music business know none of the above. Because they're buying the hype.

MySpace isn't about music, it's about SOCIAL NETWORKING! What's more important at a club, the music being played over the sound system or the PEOPLE! MySpace is a reflection of today's music scene. The music is truly an afterthought. We've got to build bands that DEMAND ATTENTION! That ELIMINATE conversation because everyone is so riveted to their performance.

It doesn't look like Fox is going to solve the problems of MySpace. So, it appears somebody's going to build a better site. Just like Google improved upon AltaVista and came to dominate.

The number one rule of the Internet is USABILITY!

MySpace has lousy usability.

Then again, people go to overpriced clubs with dirty bathrooms. But, as soon as somebody builds a cleaner, more equitable place, they abandon the original club almost INSTANTLY!

MySpace isn't loyal to music. To improve and drive the music sphere we need people who really understand how the word is spread, how people USE music, how to TURN PEOPLE ON to music.

MySpace is reaping the rewards of social networking.

But thank god they don't have a copyright or patent on that. And somebody can replicate their formula and IMPROVE upon it.

People will give you all their money if they believe in you. If they feel you're doing your best to service them. The aforementioned Apple Computer is a perfect example. Hell, the public sells iPods and Macs, not the advertising. Loyal believers spread the word. As they did in the beginning with Nike. And Seven jeans. All these companies are predicated on quality first. Something that MySpace just doesn't have.

I'll be glad to see MySpace go.

And unless there's a huge investment of financial and human capital almost INSTANTLY, rest assured MySpace is not going to be a dominant behemoth in the future.

Then again, the people who think this are those who don't USE the site. How long do we have to see this movie? Wherein the straight press trumpets something they know NOTHING ABOUT!

It's a kick the tires society we live in now. You get to try out something first, before you buy it. This is why the major labels are so screwed, they don't GET IT! You can't sell people tripe and abandon them, you've got to get them on your side, let them try it out before buying. They don't need your wares to be perfect, they just need to believe that you care about them, are trying to improve, are interested in making their life BETTER!

MySpace barely makes anybody's life better. And to the degree it does, it's a frustrating experience.

MySpace should learn from Google, and Craigslist. Don't play to the press, play to your customers. THEY'RE the ones who own the key to your future.

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