MySpace Courts Older Folks In Battle Against Facebook

The shrinking social network site uses "oldies" music to lure new visitors

By Emily Feldman
|  Thursday, Jun 4, 2009  |  Updated 6:26 PM EDT
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MySpace Courts Older Folks In Battle Against Facebook

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MySpace is hoping guys like Neil Young will attract new (older) members to its site.

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Spurned by a fickle young social networking audience, MySpace has set its sights on a more mature demographic.

The once dominant site aims to lure graying metal fans and classic rock lovers with music. Free music.

Just a year ago, MySpace had Facebook and other social networking eating its dust. Netting over 8 million minutes of viewing a month, according to Nielsen Online, it seemed nothing could stand in its way. But in a competitive field where the customers are always looking to move on to the next big thing, Facebook closed the gap -- and then some. Then, Twitter made its debut.  MySpace was no longer new, and worst of all, no longer cool. The site's viewership fell by over 30%.

So MySpace sought refuge in the Dockers crowd, cultivating an older audience by hosting pages for such musicians as Neil Young, Miles Davis and U2, according to the New York Times. The mutually beneficial relationship allows these artists to promote their music while driving new traffic to the site.

Lionel Richie uses his page to communicate with his fans, who are indifferent to the foibles of his more famous, twenty-something daughter Nicole. Richie is currently promoting his new "Just Go" release on his MySpace page. Tickets for a recent concert he gave in Los Angeles were only available to those with a MySpace account--part of a series called  "MySpace Secret Shows."

Richie says social networking -- even if it is with an older crowd -- keeps him young.

"If I weren't an avid MySpace user, I would run out of stuff to talk to my teenage kids about," he said in an e-mail to the Times.

Music is providing MySpace a powerful niche in the social networking wars. No other site offers non-members access to free, full-length musical tracks. Without signing up, anyone can browse through dozens of tunes from Billy Joel to Motley Crue. The company is betting on the strategy to help it win the hearts -- and clicks -- of an older crowd.

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