Si han pasado más de dos años sin que Justin Timberlake saque un nuevo disco, y entre sus planes a corto y mediano plazo no se encuentra regresar a la música, es sencillamente porque no se siente listo para ello. El intérprete de «Cry Me a River» aseguró en entrevista que, aunque es conocido por su carrera como cantante, desde hace tiempo no ha tenido un golpe de inspiración que lo lleve a componer y producir un nuevo álbum. Agregó que esto, en gran parte, se debe a que ha estado ocupado rodando películas.
«No digo que esté retirado de la música para siempre, pero las películas requieren mucho tiempo. Además, pasa algo muy divertido y similar cuando hago películas o canciones, en ambos casos tengo que sentir que fluyo en ello, y ahora mi momento es el cine. En estos instantes no puedo hablar de mi vida como cantante porque no la hay. No he tenido esa inspiración que me haga decir algo que quiera compartir en la música», contó el actor ayer 15 de noviembre en el hotel SLS, en Beverly Hills.
Y aunque se pudiera creer que su reciente boda con Jessica Biel, a mediados de octubre al sur de Italia, sería musa suficiente, el intérprete lo descarta.
«La música es algo muy natural para mí, no la hago para ganar premios o para demostrar algo a alguien, sino porque tengo algo que decir. No se trata de un hombre o mujer haciéndola, se trata de que venga de un lugar especial. Soy de ese tipo de artistas que cuando compone, realmente le tiene que venir del corazón», compartió.
Desde que adquirió Myspace, hace más de un año, ha estado trabajando en la nueva versión del sitio junto con sus socios, Tim y Chris Vanderhook.
«Es un trabajo que ha requerido mucho tiempo, pero que está hecho para los artistas y sus seguidores, para que realmente puedan tener un contacto con sus seguidores, lo cual no existe en el mercado. Myspace ahora está diseñado para que haya conversaciones de verdad, para que el fan sepa qué dicen los cantantes, para que conozca qué le gusta a su intérprete, actor o productor favorito, que no sólo pueda escuchar su música, sino también ver lo que lo inspira, como fotos, vídeos u otras cosas personales», declaró el intérprete.
Aseveró que la nueva imagen del sitio no dejará de promover a nuevas estrellas de la música, como en el pasado.
«Si estoy volviendo a inventar Myspace con el objetivo de unir al artista con el fan, es porque siento una responsabilidad de hacerlo. No tienen idea de la cantidad de demos que me llegan a mi Twitter, pero que se quedan ahí, no hay un sitio con fuerza en el que se pueda descubrir nuevas propuestas musicales, y eso es lo que queremos», declaró.
Myspace contará con un diseño diferente y nuevas herramientas, como una sección llamada Mixes, en la que el usuario podrá subir música, fotos y vídeos.
Justin Timberlake Explains New Myspace — And What It Means For His Music
When it was announced that Justin Timberlake bought a stake in Myspace more than a year ago, we didn’t quite know what to think about it. Sure, we’ve been used to Timberlake flexing various creative muscles via film, TV, fashion, restaurants and even home décor, but his taking part in the revamping of a seemingly flat-lined social-networking site was a real head-scratcher.
And even though we got a brief glimpse of the new Myspace back in September, we haven’t really been able to get in Timberlake’s head about the subject — until Thursday, when he let a select group of reporters in on a full demo of the redesigned site to talk about why he took on this challenging project in the first place, what excites him most about connecting artists with other artists, and artists to their fans, and, perhaps most intriguing of all, what all this means for Justin Timberlake the musician.
The «Top Fans» section of artist pages displays a musician’s most influential and connected followers, and Timberlake said he wants Myspace to help create a more engaging experience that isn’t about trying to measure support in numbers or restricted by word count.
«I can’t speak for every artist, but I can tell you that if I have X amount of followers on Twitter, I’d rather that number be smaller and know that they’re all engaging versus throwing comments all over the place that have nothing to do with anything», he said. «Lucky for me, from what I’ve seen, it’s that type of interaction [with the ‘Top Fans’ feature]».
In having conversations with fellow artists both signed, unsigned, famous and unknown, Timberlake said the one thing everyone wanted to do was find out more about what makes their fans tick and why they respond to certain material.
«I think about it as blurring the gap and how much you can discover through your fanbase and how much you can discover about yourself as an artist», he said, emphasizing «quality of engagement» over quantity.
So how exactly does Timberlake plan to use his own artist page?
«I’m going to reserve a little bit of my answer, because I don’t know yet, and I think that it could change from statement to statement, experience to experience», he said, adding that he hopes to use it for inspiration and to make statements about specific pieces of art, whether it be music, photography, film, etc.
«I don’t want Myspace to be who I was last night through a bunch of drunken pictures in a drunken stupor, and I don’t want it to be who I am right now on what I’m typing on the Internet», Timberlake said about his vision for his personal pages, clearly alluding to Myspace’s biggest competition, Facebook. «I want it to constantly be about who I’m going to be, what I have to offer the next day and the next day».
At this point in our relatively candid conversation with Timberlake and his partners, Tim and Chris Vanderhook, we couldn’t help but feel that all this talk about being musical and finding inspiration from other artists might be a sign that the «Sexy Back» singer wants to make some music of his own.
«You’re the ones who stopped talking about me as a musician. You guys act like I said I’ve retired», Timberlake joked about the media having preemptively put him out of business. «I can tell you this: When I’m ready to say something, you always know that I’ll say it in the biggest way possible.
«[My music] really comes from the heart», he added. «Making movies and making music, they have a lot of similarities, but I can tell you that, and while they both come from honest places, music for me is the thing that comes most naturally to me, and for me, I just don’t take it for granted».
Timberlake all but promised us that when he has something to say musically, he’ll say it.
«I’m not dumb. I hear what people say», he said. «It obviously doesn’t bother me. I’m really patient. It’s not about them. [My music] comes from a pure place. If anything, I’m honoring it in the best way that I know how, but when it’s time, I’ll be ready. I’m not less inspired, I didn’t give up, but until I have something to say, I was taught to keep my mouth shut. That’s how my mother raised me».
Justin Timberlake Gives First Look at New Myspace
Can Justin Timberlake bring Myspace back? The question has been on the minds of online observers since the multi-hyphenate announced his investment in the troubled social networking company last year — and yesterday, he offered a first look at the answer. At a small but swanky press gathering at Los Angeles’ SLS Hotel, Timberlake and co-owners Chris and Tim Vanderhook presented the new Myspace, which sees itself as an artist-centric service focused around music.
«We never looked at this as some sort of rebranding or reinvention. This was for us a completely new platform», Timberlake told a group of reporters. «The name was acquired but I think that was a good thing for us. The important thing up until this point . . . was to really give it an identity».
Music was crucial to Myspace’s initial popularity, providing a soundtrack to user pages and helping bring artists from the Arctic Monkeys to Soulja Boy to prominence. But when newer networks such as Facebook and Twitter pulled away members, what had been a $580-million-dollar company went into free-fall, landing in the Vanderhooks’ and Timberlake’s hands for $35 million — with its once-vaunted streaming abilities running behind competing services such as Bandcamp and SoundCloud.
For artists, the new site may well bring Myspace back to the forefront. Constructed from almost entirely new code, Myspace retains a few of its most beloved features — a section for top 8 friends and a streaming profile song — but the site is now a crisp, design-forward presence full of high-resolution images and a horizontal activity stream that offers a more magazine-like experience. A bottom bar controls music playback and contains quick links to notifications, chat and user profiles; mousing over it reveals a queue of songs and videos built automatically or by clicking and dragging. Starting to type will automatically open a search page organized by artists, users and media formats.
After user personalization left Myspace looking like what Timberlake calls «the Wild West», the site now strives for simplification. Instead of separating music, photos and videos, they’re combined in multimedia collections called mixtapes that place playlists and images side by side. Instead of friends, followers or like buttons, Myspace users «connect» — to another user, a song or other items on the site. Navigating from videos to tracks to friends’ updates is intuitive and seamless, with full-screen videos able to cleverly continue minimized playback in the site’s right-hand corner. Users can share outside content from YouTube and the like, but the Vanderhooks hope they’ll draw upon Myspace’s own sizable library.
«What a lot of artists told us, is how do you make this my space?» Chris said. «‘I use six to seven different social platforms. I have to be a technology wizard, all I want to do is record, I want to get it out to my fans’. That hit home for us».
Along with major artists such as Timberlake, Myspace is the home to 5 million unsigned acts, who the trio said can benefit from in-depth analytics that reveal where fans are listening from, among other information. The site’s discovery-focused editorial section will serve as one guide to Myspace’s range of content, while links to «similar artists» and «inspired by» pages will allow fans to dive down playlist rabbit-holes. Influential listeners will see their fandom pay off with their own spot on the artist’s pages and the potential to connect with them.
«Imagine you’re at a show at Staples Center, there’s one fan who’s singing harder, dancing harder, and you want to bring them up on stage», Timberlake said.
He also hopes to foster artist-to-artist communication and collaboration, giving fans the opportunity to listen in. But much of that depends on the revived site’s success in winning over former users and a younger generation raised on the likes of Instagram and Tumblr. Myspace’s new house hasn’t been completely unpacked yet, either: Timberlake’s own page is full of mixtapes and updates, but a quick perusal of other top pop stars revealed pages still in the works. Sorting Taylor Swift’s music by album, for one, brings a pair of karaoke collections to the screen. For the moment, the site is invite-only, giving Myspace the chance to develop and clean up before a wave of users moves in.
At the very least, the revamped platform is an attractive, promising home for artists and their fans — though if Timberlake himself has new material to share, he didn’t hint at it yesterday. Instead, asked about users laboring over learning the language of another social networking site, he stressed the ease of its learning curve. «If I can learn it, anybody can», he said, smiling.
Justin Timberlake, Tim and Chris Vanderhook Detail MySpace’s New Music-Centric Design
If the MySpace of yore was about empowering users to make new friends and collect them in a Top 8 column, then the new MySpace under Specific Media and Justin Timberlake wants to make musicians those users and fans those friends in the Top 8.
Speaking at a press event unveiling the new Myspace’s private beta to media Thursday in Los Angeles, Timberlake, along with Specific’s Tim and Chris Vanderhook, shed additional insight into the next phase of the music-centric Myspace, which will remain in invite-only beta through early 2013. For starters, the site is starting from scratch in design and user data, asking users to create an all-new profile via MySpace, Facebook Connect, Twitter Connect or classic MySpace.
«This was about a completely new platform», Timberlake said. «The name was acquired, that was a good thing, but the important thing up until this point as far as all the artists Tim and Chris and I were talking to was to have a community that feels like it really has an identity».
The new design has a horizontal scroll where users can find updates on friends and artists’ latest song-listening and playlist activity from MySpace’s album-length library of over 42 million songs (a la Spotify), a music player at the bottom of the screen that plays music continuously as you surf to other pages (a la Pitchfork) and artist pages that rank the act’s most-played songs and music videos as well as most active fans. It’s the latter aspect that’s most compelling to artists like Timberlake, who said, «When I have something I wanna say, how can I get a direct feed straight to who cares about it?»
To Tim Vanderhook, some of the aggregate fan data that already exists in places like Twitter and YouTube hasn’t been extrapolated in a useful way to artists. «If you think about today how everyone is obsessed with YouTube play counts, there’s no depth behind that. Is it big in L.A., is it big in Detroit, is it big in another country? What type of people are consuming the music?» he said.
And though music-hosting sites like SoundCloud and BandCamp have gained in popularity during Myspace’s post-News Corp. decline, the Vanderhooks are still exploring ways that artists can sell their music through Myspace in addition to streaming it. One priority instead is to encourage new ways for artists to work together through the platform.
«One thing the old Myspace did was it had the ability for one artist to message another and collaborate on creating something new one», Tim said. «That’s a feature that got lost never got replaced by anything. When we can facilitate that, we’ll be successful».
Centralizing artists’ online profiles across the web is another priority. «One thing we keep hearing is, ‘How do you make this my space — literally?'» said Chris. ‘«I have six or seven different social platforms. In order for me to make it in today’s business I have to be a tech wizard when all I wanna do is record. I need someone to make it easier for me’. That hit home for us — how do we develop a place to actually make it their own and house all these different areas they do on all these other platforms and make it simple for the artist?»
MySpace Relaunch Will Revive Company’s Status in Online Music, Sources Say
Though traffic to Myspace.com was halved in the period from 54.3 million unique users in November 2010 to 24.9 million unique users in November 2011, according to Comscore, that drop-off appears to have stabilized and even seen a little rebound, with 26 million users in September 2012 — enough for Myspace to still rank as one of Comscore’s top 50 sites on the web during the month. If its days as a social-networking hub are long gone, the market for a music-discovery hub is still wide open, particularly for the 5 million unsigned artists who’ve uploaded 27 million songs to Myspace over the years.
«We have a very disparate music landscape digitally right now», one major-label marketing exec told Billboard in September when demo invitations were first shared with the industry. «I don’t think anyone’s really been that voice of the fans for a really long time. The Hype Machines and Pitchforks all have a place, but that’s very far away from the mainstream. As much as I love and respect what those sites do for our artists, I feel like that spot somewhere between the hipster and the mainstream is a very empty place right now».
And although the MySpace demo is ad-free, the eventual relaunch is expected to feature a revamped ad model, taking a more integrated approach to building original content for advertising partners. Macy’s has already committed to a program around developing artists, Billboard has learned, while talks with marketers in key categories like soft drinks, electronics and telecommunications are ongoing. Fast food may be a part of the new look and feel, too — earlier this year, MySpace has teamed up with Taco Bell for an original web series called «Let’s Big Happy».
«Advertising will very much be a part of the ecosystem», Tim Vanderhook told Billboard in September. «It’s something we’ve very much put a lot of thought into to make sure it’s organic».
Justin Timberlake says the new Myspace is no mere redesign
After going hands-on with the new Myspace, we sat down with the site’s owners to talk future feature plans, connecting with new artists, and what exactly they liked about the Myspace of yore.
The phrase of the day was «This is not a redesign». Nearly everyone on the Myspace team who took the time to walk a handful of us through the new site made sure to tell us that this certainly isn’t a makeover. Although, of course, they also all pointed out how very sleek this new look is.
Owners Tim and Chris Vanderhook and Justin Timberlake bought the site back in 2011, and since then all’s been quiet on the Myspace front — until this past September when Timberlake tweeted out a preview of the music and media-focused social network. Since then, minds have been curious and inquiring as we inch closer to an official launch.
We now have an early preview at the new Myspace (albeit a beta and relatively quiet version), and this first look combined with the Vanderhooks’ and Timberlake’s discussion about the relaunch have made it clear that the old Myspace is on its way out.
«You’re not going to see something that’s ‘Myspace 3.0’. This is not another social network that you have to keep up with and maintain. It’s a totally new experience, one that delivers on three things: Design, discovery, and insights for our community that actually empowers them», says TimVanderhook. «Overall, what you’re going to see is that design matters. We wanted to deliver something that was visually stunning … and we wanted to give tools to the artist community that really help them».
While stressing that it’s out with the old and in with the new, the owners still had positive memories about the original Myspace. «So I’m 34, so I was directly part of the original Myspace and I loved it because I get satisifaction out of finding new music, surfacing it, and seeing my friends like it», says Chris. «Watching the feedback from that was great».
«Just finding new stuff — people, bands …» echoes Tim. «That discovery, and that was something we really wanted to bring to the new site: How do we really solve discovery for people?»
Timberlake agrees. «The constant discovery of the new, but also, the way of promoting individuality in a way that I don’t know that a lot of the newest places that you can go actually do». And as an artist, he directly saw how the site could launch a career. «I watched my friends become … One Republic. I’ve know Ryan [Tedder] for a long time, and to see that type of connection with a fan base that grows and grows and grows … that was exciting to see».
And that love for artist promotion isn’t going anywhere. Myspace will remain a hub for unsigned and indie artists. «Their story is our story», says Chris, who says he sees the top eight spots as well as the profile song becoming important promotional areas for artists. The ever-present, very functional, and downright good-looking search function will also give users immediate access to finding who or what they want. «We’re just getting started», he adds.
As to how Myspace will more specifically help artists, the team says the site’s capabilities will follow the users. «We’re going to build what the community wants», Tim says, mentioning that if artists want a way to directly sell their music and users want to download it, the feature will be added. Or if they want a way to sell merchandise, the platform will provide.
«There’s a section in the site called Spaces, and it isn’t built yet, but think of it like our app store. An API that connects to anything on the Web, to bring in your own space to the site», Tim says, explaining how brands could eventually leverage the network.
Right now, Myspace is home to 53 million tracks and 42.3 million artists, which is a lot of music. Still, a lot of that is from unrepresented artists, and the catalog will continue to grow, as will the team’s plans for the platform. Advertising is a natural evil that will be introduced, though a marketing rep says they’re looking at doing very integrated, natural, uninterruptive experiences. And eventually, as the site has more users, more artists, and more content, Myspace will need a way to filter this — something Facebook has been challenged by. According to the team, this will largely be based on an algorithm that measures Affinity, or the metric assessing how much you have in common with users and content on Myspace.
Mobile reach is in the works as well, though slowly rolling out the Web version remains the top priority, as is keeping the site clean of spambots … something the old Myspace struggled with. «We’re obsessed with this, actually», says Tim. «It’s part of why we’re rolling out on an invite-only basis».
«We’ve got a lot of very smart people working on this problem».
Back-end processes aside, it’s clear that connecting artists and their work with fans and users remains at Myspace’s core. «It’s not about bridging the gap. It’s about blurring the gap», says Timberlake. But make no mistake, this time, they’re going to do it better. «This is an invention, not a reinvention», he adds.
That One Time Justin Timberlake Showed Me His MySpace
In the past few years, the name «Myspace» has become somewhat of a dirty word–or worse, a joke. Once the top social network for a bulk of the ’00′s, their reign came to a grinding halt as Facebook opened its doors to the general public. But now, the original massive social network is planning to make a grand comeback. And to do so, they’ve focused on the one aspect that helped to shape Myspace’s original legacy: Music.
Yesterday, myself and a group of journalists were invited to the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills to hear about the brand new MySpace and have a chat with the owners themselves: Tim Vanderhook, Chris Vanderhook…and Justin Timberlake. (I know.)
It sort of feels like decades ago at this point, but there was a time in our lives when artists like Lily Allen and Sky Ferreira were being scooped up left and right and signed to labels based on the demos posted on their MySpace page. Now, the network want to recapture that magic.
Around noon, we were all gathered into a room, where Chris and Tim Vanderhook came to introduce us to the new Myspace.
First and foremost, the duo acknowledged that Myspace knows what they’re up against, and that they need to «re-earn the respect of a skeptical audience». They stressed that they weren’t trying to be «just another social network», and that Myspace is primarily about fostering creativity–and the design certainly speaks to achieving that goal.
The new site is incredibly sleek, if you haven’t already watched the preview. It’s not a typical feed-style network: For one thing, you scroll from left to right, magazine style. There’s a music player that follows you along for the entire site experience, when you watch a video, it takes up the whole screen (while you can keep interacting on top.) It’s the kind of forward-thinking design you’d expect to come from the mind of an artist who cares about the overall experience, rather than a team of SEO-minded programmers.
Instead of «friending» or «following», there’s «connecting»: If you like any piece of media–photos, videos, playlists–you «connect» with the content, allowing you to see who else has connected with the same type of media. There’s also «mixes», which are essentially multimedia playlists that thread audio playlists, photos and videos into one neat package, in any combination.
Everything about the site experience–from the super high quality photos to the in-your-face layout–is a vastly more emotional experience than what Facebook has slowly lost over time.
In keeping with the new site strategy, Myspace is now heavily focused on exploration, which is a treat for unsigned and signed artists alike. There’s a «Discovery» tab to find out what’s currently trending (the tab opened up to a big, beautiful photo of Sky Ferreira), lots of editorial (I read through a MySpace reporter’s play-by-play on Rihanna’s 777 Tour), charts, analytics, recommendations, advanced search capabilities (you start typing on any page, and you’re instantly searching the site.
Also new to the experience is «Top Fans», a section of the artist’s page which uses algorithms (Klout comes to mind) to display their most influential fans–meaning not only do these people consume a lot of content, but they reach a lot of people too. This could become a highly sought-after honor, and in the case of acts like One Direction, I imagine the daily wars between diehard Brazilian stans battling their way to the top of the list on the slight offchance that Zayn or Louis sees their name could get rather ugly.
On a nostalgic note, Myspace is reintroducing two of the features from their original incarnation: The profile song, which is a single song a user can set for their profile, as well as the beloved/hated Top 8, which allows you to decide which relationship you value more: Your best friend of 20 years, or Katy Perry.
After the presentation from Chris and Tim, we all took a break for lunch (read: stress-eating pre-Justin interaction). Then, we were broken into groups and led into a room to play around with MySpace for a bit.
The product is still in the early, early stages of beta, and that became clear fairly soon: There aren’t many users on the site right now (obviously), and the breadth of interaction capabilities right now is fairly minimal. However, the site’s design and navigation is incredibly impressive, although it does require a slight learning curve. It’s easy to get lost in the site (as I’m sure is the intention), and there’s plenty of opportunities to explore new talent. For unsigned acts, the site seems rich with opportunity for self-expression and, most importantly, self-promotion.
After the demo, our group was led into a room full of couches, where we eagerly awaited Justin and the Vanderhooks. (Possible band name?) And then, they walked in and introduced themselves. And by that, I mean Justin Timberlake shook my hand. To clarify: His hand was on mine. To clarify further: We shared an intimate moment.
Immediately, the group began to discuss the mission of Myspace–and for a bulk of the discussion, Justin took the helm: «I’m an artist first», Justin told us, explaining that the new MySpace was «built by an artist, for an artist». He stressed the fact that the new Myspace would become the hub for musicians as it once was, and that it would be a place where an artist could curate the experience beyond simple interactions. At one point, someone mentioned the vast amount of unsigned acts that were displaced after Myspace began to decline in popularity years ago. «It’s going to be their home again if I have anything to do with it», he said.
Later on, I asked Justin how Myspace plans to provide artist-to-fan connection, like the instant gratification of getting a tweet from your favorite artist. He agreed that he loves tweeting fans, but in his vision for MySpace, artists will be able customize their interactions with fans as they see fit–not simply limited to a single method (like a 140-character text response.) I would have more quotes from that entire exchange, but the only notes I took at the time were «AHHHHH» and «just talked to me for 10 minutes» as I was busy DYING INSIDE BECAUSE HE WAS STARING INTO MY SOUL THE WHOLE TIME AND I COULDN’T BREATHE, SO SEXY, OH MY GOD. #Journalism
When I regained my vision/hearing, I found the conversation was still happening. In Justin’s view, the new Myspace is aspirational: «I don’t want it to be drunk party pictures or what I’m doing right now…it’s who I’m going to be, and what I have to offer». In a way, it’s a way for fans to take a glimpse into an artist’s creative process–or as he referred to it, an «inspiration board». The team stressed that there were still plenty of developments on the way, including concert ticketing and opportunities for artists to sell merchandise directly on their own pages.
And then, at the very end, came the million dollar question from MTV News: Will this mean that Justin’s planning to get back into music?
«You guys act like I said I retired», he joked. «I can tell you this», he said as the room suddenly felt very quiet. «When I’m ready to say something, I will in the biggest way possible…I’m really patient. It’s not about them. It comes from a pure place».
Not to speculate (well, maybe just a little), but it sure seems then that an event like say, the re-launch of a social network, could be the needed provocation for some long awaited new tunes. In any case, it certainly seemed like he’s preparing to reclaim his throne in the near future. I have faith.
With services like last.fm and Spotify, there are opportunities to discover new artists. With Soundcloud and Bandcamp, there are ways to new artists to promote their music. But there’s no single service, App or website has ever acted as a central hub as well as Myspace once did–and from what I saw yesterday, it has the potential to become that source once again–and in a gorgeous new way.
After all, you can always count on Justin to bring sexy back.
Reforma, MTV, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Digital Trends, Muu Muse
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