Myspace-related news travels very, very slowly in the late 2010s. So while the company had quietly acknowledged a massive data loss in response to user inquiries last year, it took until this weekend for the greater public to begin to become aware that all music uploaded to the site prior to 2015 has now migrated to the land of Nospace. That is to say: it’s toast.
“As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace,” the company — now owned by Meredith — said in a statement at the top of their music player eight months or more ago. “We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your backup copies.”
The apology, which previously had been grist for alarmed discussions among a tiny contingent of Reddit users, grabbed the attention of music and tech hounds in a bigger way Sunday after being publicized in a JWZ post and Boing Boing article Sunday. Tech reporter Andy Baio estimated the loss at 50 million songs by 14 million artists.
Had anyone not backed up the songs that were stored on the once ubiquitous, now largely abandoned service? Looking at chagrined comments from musicians kicking themselves on threads discussing the data loss, the answer is clearly yes.
Some of the aggrieved were bands that had never held on to copies of their old demos, while others had strictly personal reasons to feel the loss. “My son recorded a song when he was 7 years old that his guitar instructor uploaded to his Myspace page. My son died 2 years ago, at the age of 20, and I would do anything to be able to hear it again,” wrote one Reddit user.
Earlier in 2018, MySpace had emailed complainants that the problem was only temporary, telling at least one user in an email, “We are aware of the issue and I have been informed the issue will be fixed, however, there is no exact time frame for when this will be completed.” In March 2018, the company said, “We’re in the process of doing a huge maintenance project for videos and songs. Due to this maintenance, you may notice some issues playing songs or videos. During this process, there may be possible downtime. We are actively working to ensure there is little to no issues with your listening experience. Please bear with us.”
MySpace also said at that time that videos in the FLV format “can no longer be played due to an update to the player. We updated our player to HTML5. Unfortunately, we do not offer a way to play or download these videos.”
It’s a further lesson that no one can depend on the kindness of strangers or the endurance of social media sites to host their work forever, with musicians suddenly sounding the alert that even Facebook and other platforms that seem likely to go a longer distance than Myspace are not the Library of Congress.
Tweeted Baio: “I’m deeply skeptical this was an accident. Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than ‘we can’t be bothered with the effort of migrating and hosting 50 million old MP3s.’”
Variety has reached out to Myspace for comment.
The service had not figured much in public discussion since a much-ballyhooed, celebrity-fueled relaunch in 2013, which followed a purchase by Justin Timberlake and other partners in 2011. In 2016, Myspace was purchased by Time Inc., which was itself purchased by the magazine company Meredith at the beginning of 2018. In May of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Meredith was exploring a sale of Viant Technology, Myspace’s parent company.
“Myspace.com is still online, but that doesn’t mean Myspace didn’t die,” the New York Times wrote in December. “It’s best understood as undead: existing in some corporeal form, with nothing left behind the eyes. Now, after a long series of sales and corporate relocations, it’s a sleepy news and entertainment portal, owned by the magazine publisher Meredith and vaguely affiliated with People and Entertainment Weekly.” The Times suggested that Meredith purchased the site mostly to mine data from its billion-plug registrations from earlier years for targeted ads.