Earlier this month, Myspace accidentally deleted all music uploaded to the platform from 2003 to 2015. However, it seems that more than a decade’s worth of songs hasn’t been lost forever. An “anonymous academic group” uploaded 490,000 Myspace tracks from 2008 to 2010 to the Internet Archive.
Nostalgic Myspace users interested in reliving the first years of the Obama Administration can find the 1.3 terabytes of music here. Fans of 2000s indie music can also browse and listen to the archive’s contents via a retro custom browser called “Hobbit.”
Sadly, the Myspace Dragon Hoard is only a small segment of the estimated 50 million songs that were lost. Thankfully, the existence of the Internet Archive can help prevent similar massive data loss events in the future.
The minor tragedy of losing 13 years of original music has prompted a lot of reflection about digital life. For one thing, it’s worth remembering the ephemeral nature of online platforms. Because of their ubiquitous and multifaceted nature, it’s easy to forget social and streaming media are still very new.
Accordingly, they lack the robust infrastructural support of a government agency or nonprofit institution. The social networking firm didn’t make more copies of its users content because there is no real financial incentive for doing so. Moreover, the Myspace data wipeout happened because of a glitch, but it also could’ve occurred because the company closed.
For example, Google shuttered its Google+ social networking product on April 2 after an eight-year run. Though never hugely popular, the platform still had 100 million active users before it was deactivated. All those people lost the content they uploaded to the site if they didn’t download it before it went offline.
Additionally, all the recent discussion surrounding Myspace brings to mind the period when the platform was ascendant. Though the service is very flawed, it’s hard not to think the world was better off when it was still the dominant social media site.
Abandoning Myspace was a Mistake
Launched in 2003, Myspace was the first social media company to become a global success. The platform’s messaging, music player, and highly customizable design features made it a hit for the new generation. Eagar to capture the new Zeitgeist, News Corporation purchased the site for $580 million in 2005.
For a while, the network was extremely successful and surpassed Google as the world’s most visited website in 2006. However, Myspace’s fortunes began to change at the end of the Bush era. In 2008, Facebook overtook its rival in terms of unique monthly users. Though a number of redesigns were implemented, the service continued to lose ground to newer, more agile competitors. By 2010, it lost half the 75.9 million members it had at its peak.
Myspace hit its absolute nadir in 2011 when it was sold to Justin Timberlake and a group of investors for a mere $35 million. Despite a promising pivot to being a music, TV, movie, and comic book discovery channel, the site has been an afterthought this decade. Notably, the site suffered one of the biggest data hacks ever in 2016, but the disclosure received little mainstream attention.
Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering Myspace once managed to generate $800 million a year without secretly sharing user data, serving as a platform for mass shooting broadcasts, or being sued by the government for housing discrimination. The platform’s leadership was unable to keep up with changes in the marketplace. But they never treated the network’s users as a commodity to be ruthlessly exploited.
Looking back, it’s fair to say that the world made the wrong choice in making Facebook its default social network. But Myspace’s user data wipeout confirmed, there is no going back.