Not content to remain in the history books as the social network that people flocked to between Friendster and Facebook, MySpace has apparently decided to become the new Spotify with the release of its first major product since they were purchased by Specific Media: a music player with built-in search engine and Facebook integration.
To be fair, MySpace makes some sense as a player in the online music business–at least as much sense as it does being a social network, these days. The site has around 42 million songs in total, with an exclusive library of around 30 million songs from unsigned artists. While the site’s traffic has more than halved in the past 12 months–from 54.3 million unique monthly visitors in November 2010 to 24.9 million last month–partnering with Facebook would give MySpace (and its users) a much larger audience to perform for.
MySpace COO Chris Vanderhook agrees, calling it “a natural partnership,” and adding that “Because of the users they have and the integrations with Spotify, Mog and Rdio, it makes sense to open up our catalog to their users.” The new music player–free to users, being ad-supported (although users won’t hear audio ads midstream)–is just the start of a full-on relaunch for MySpace, which Vanderhook promises should appear sometime in 2012, although he’s understandably cagey on details: “We’re gonna build great product and we’re gonna put it out when it’s ready. I think under previous leadership they put out a timeline and put out whatever product they had. We haven’t said, ‘This has to be out by this date’.”
Will this be enough to rescue MySpace from being a footnote in digital history books? It’s unclear, but Vanderhook’s enthusiasm is oddly infectious, and it’s not the most unlikely resurrection imaginable. Maybe 2012 will be the Second Year of MySpace, after all.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.