MYSPACE VS. SOUNDCLOUD: The battle for the ears

By Gabriel Fraga de Cal. June 25, 2012

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The recent boom of the social network industry is attracting millions of users and, therefore, millions of euros. From the “by word of mouth” we have now moved on to the "by tweet of timeline" or the “Facebook status”. According to predictions, Facebook will reach one thousand million users this year: Mark Zuckerberg’s university invention has become the goose with the virtual golden eggs.

Oddly enough, some maintain that audio has been one of the greatest discriminated by the social media effect. Maybe that was the case at first but nowadays it makes no sense to say that the Internet is a mute media. Spotify, Pandora, Last.fm or Shazam are some of the most popular music apps, although it might be true that the interaction between the users is somewhat low. Recently, HeyTell and TalkBox have become the walkie-talkie of social networks, offering an instant voice messaging service. Nevertheless, the communication that these apps offer is normally of the user-to-user kind –like a voice WhatsApp– and therefore, or at least for now, doesn’t encourage the interaction for large groups.


My Space vs SoundCloud

As for the music industries and the social media, the great “battle for the ears” of Internet users is fought between two platforms: MySpace and SoundCloud. MySpace was launched in 2003 and was one of the first musical projects within social networks. In fact, until Facebook arrived, it was the most-visited social media site in the world. It was after 2008 when its decline began; with a master stroke, Mark Zuckerberg erased from the virtual map his direct competitors, MySpace included.

At that time many presaged a fatal end for MySpace, considered the grey old man of social networks. Although in 2005 Rupert Murdock’s company News Corp. had purchased MySpace for no less than $580m, in June last year –and after the platform’s decline– the Australian tycoon sold it off cheap for only $35m. It was then when the musician, actor and businessman Justin Timberlake became one of the main shareholders.

“It’s too late”, confessed the experts at Timberlake’s investment. Nevertheless, and against all predictions, MySpace's popularity is spiralling up since 2012. According to a recent report by comScore –leading company in measuring digital business– MySpace is in the USA the fourth most visited social network after Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (overcoming Tumblr and Google+). In early 2012, after a considerable investment based on a close collaboration with Facebook and Twitter, MySpace announced that, in just one month, it had 1 million new users. The total figure is now close to 25 millions.

Maybe one of the many reasons why MySpace has put its skates on is SoundCloud. With 15 million users, it is probably the most complete audio platform on the Internet. SoundCloud combines almost all the characteristics boasted by all its competitors and, in addition, you can share music, news or audio messages easy and fast. Only by looking at the interface of both sites we realise that SoundCloud is a fresher and more modern project.

SoundCloud began its journey in 2008 (curiously the same year of MySpace’s decline) as a tool designed for professional musicians. Now, its creators seem to have realised that if they want to be big on the Internet, SoundCloud must be a platform available to everybody. The Next SoundCloud beta is now available and has taken the “battle for the ears” to its boiling point. With an innovative design and a more interactive essence, SoundCloud aims to become the Twitter or Instagram of sound.

Eric Wahlforss, co-founder of the company, states that the waveform is a great way to make sounds social, tangible, visceral. The experience is more original and intuitive for the users. Also, the audio files can be easily embedded in blogs, forums, Facebook, MySpace and practically any website. It is true that, next to SoundCloud, MySpace looks "old". But the "battle for the ears" has just begun and, so far, Justin Timberlake is the man to beat. 

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