News Corp buys MySpace: Should we be Worried?


This article first appreared on BlogCritics.

Almost out of nowhere, MySpace has eclipsed Friendster and Orkut as the premier destination for the youth generation. But could corporate control ruin this runaway success?

Los Angeles-based MySpace is what's called a social networking site. Members log on, create a profile, and seek “friends” who match their interests and personalities. On MySpace, users can comment on other member pages, add pictures, and invite their internet friends to events and groups. Users also have the ability to post blogs.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (owner of Fox News amoung other entertainment sites) has bought MySpace for over $580 million dollars cash. The site will become the cornerstone of the newly created Fox Interactive Media unit.

The appeal of MySpace is simple. It's created for the people and by the people. It's not the creation of some 40 year old Madison Avenue marketing whiz as an attempted to break into the youth market. Although corporations such as Warner Music and NBC Universal have a presence on the site, the heart of MySpace is its people, who range from Afropunks to certified racists, to models. Unlike some sites, MySpace has still sought to be true to the people who are the core of their business.

MySpace got its start in the LA entertainment industry, and it is very easy for artists to distribute and promote their music on the site. Unlike some sites like Garageband and, MySpace free and easy to use. In fact, MySpace has eclipsed MTV has a music destination. Ex Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corogan says, “now that MySpace is here, bands don't necessarily need a label to be heard.”

The demographic trends of MySpace make it a very lucrative site for the everyday billionaire. The site receives almost 14 million unique visitors a month. Also, many kids in the coveted 18-25 demographic are shunning television and spending more and more of their time on the Internet. Couple this with the fact that a member can spend up to 3 hours on MySpace (as well as visiting the site many times a day), and you have a suitable platform for advertisers and marketers alike.

But if there is too much change and corporate control, the hundreds of thousands of members who are on MySpace will most likely resist.

News Corp hasn't detailed their future plans for the site, but I wouldn't doubt that they will try to introduce a “premium” pay service or maybe even a music download service similar to iTunes or Napster to Go. You'll definitely see more Fox shows being promoted on MySpace. However, the biggest fear of many members is that Myspace will try and censor cuss words and lewd pictures.