1. Integrate directly with e-mail. Drop the requirements of using the Myspace messaging system and allow messages to be sent, received (full messages, not previews), etc. via real, actual e-mail. In fact, do it forcibly. It will make people mad, but just put them on e-mail lists and let them opt out.
2. Speaking of e-mail lists. If you made friends with a band, congratulations, you are now on their e-mail list. Didn’t want to be? Too bad. When I say e-mail list, I mean actual, real e-mail. Not bulletins, not weird events, not livestreams, e-mail. You want to opt out. Go ahead. This e-mail thing is the absolute key to survival. Nothing else is an acceptable substitute.
3. Here’s the sneaky mean part. Hey bands, you’ve now got a giant e-mail list (I’ve got 12,000 people on my list), but guess what, you can only send to those people via Myspace. You can’t export those addresses. Bummer because you can’t just move it over to a better system, but not a bummer for Myspace. They’ve just provided a service not available anywhere else and bands have a HUGE incentive to come back to the site…immediate, direct access to a ton of people.
4. It’s actually also awesome for users. Now look at that Myspace users, you can subscribe to all of the e-mail lists for your favorite bands right there on Myspace. You’ll get tons of exclusive content and access for being on those lists. You will LOVE using Myspace to manage the information you get from bands. You will LOVE using Myspace to get song exclusives. Best of all, your e-mail address is never known to anyone except Myspace and you have a single point interface for subscribing and unsubscribing from lists. Hell, you’ll love buying albums early on Myspace via these e-mail systems. Bands will love managing their fan bases on Myspace. No other tool really exists yet to do it (at least not a free one with a massive subscriber base).
5. Sounds too annoying for users. Nah. They’ll make it SUPER easy to opt out of different types of messages. I don’t want to see tour dates from The Motion Sick, but I do want exclusive download offers. No problem. Have options for a ton of different message types. Allow bands to create their own custom types of updates. Don’t allow global opt out. If you want to opt out globally from all band messages, close your account loserface.
…and steal the best other features from everyone else:
6. Myspace, take a look at Reverbnation and other sites for much better content for profiles. Let bloggers embed widgets of Myspace players with buy links, mailing list subscription forms, etc. Bands will love this. Users will love this. I swear to you. They all will.
7. Create a contest system like Ourstage. Let fans vote for songs. Let fans vote for openers for the next KISS tour…well, maybe for a better band, but you know what I mean.
8. I want to listen to Myspace radio with an automatic recommendation system like Last.FM or Pandora. Allow people to buy placement like Jango. Hire The Echo Nest to help with this please. They are innovating way beyond everyone else.
9. Repeat this with lots of other existing sites, features, and ideas, but the foundation is really e-mail. The rest is icing.
I promise this will all work. Myspace, if you do this and it fails, you can take back the million dollars. The one key thing you need to do is to stop being such crybabies about the messaging system. That is why you started to fail. That is Facebook’s biggest weakness. If you’re worried about spam, hire a lot of people to police spam. Maybe the majority of your staff should be spam police…no joke. You can aggressively block spam while still offering features. Blocking features to prevent spam is the game of fools. Thus far, Myspace and Facebook have proven to be foolish when it comes to working with bands. If you don’t want to do this, I hope you fail as soon as possible because I am sick of the daily press releases unveiling innovative new features like a brand new purple stripe on the side of band pages.