Upon hearing the MySpace’s sever news, my first thought was ‘I’m glad all posts and DMs are gone forever’. My second thought was ‘Oh No’
Full Show Notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2022/01/15/301-2202-lost-in-myspace/
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Lost in MySpace
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On this week’s Interdependence.fm Holly and Matt spoke with the team from Nina Protocol. They talked music archiving and the importance of the context for cultural artefacts. During the first hour, the conversation found its way to MySpace.
Yes, the once mighty MySpace. The first social network to reach a global audience. The social network that still casts a shadow over all social media to this day.
I’m part of the so called MySpace Generation. It will probably surprise no one when I say I was on MySpace early. MySpace launched in August 2003 and I joined the platform in 2004. My user ID was 13 million something. I’ve spoken about how I grew up in a DIY hardcore punk scene before. Around 2000ish I became an admin on the local scenes PHP bulletin board. The migration to MySpace away from our little independent board was swift, with brutal consequences to the local scene. But none of that really matters. Because anything uploaded to MySpace before 2015 is gone.
In case you didn’t know, in 2019 a botched server migration resulted in around 50m tracks from 14 million artists being lost forever. The conversation on Interdependence was the first time I’ve heard others talk about the this tragedy in the same way I feel about it
The size and scale of the loss has yet to be fully appreciated by wider culture. Early 00’s nostalgia has yet to be fracked. But when it does, for the first time, there will be no obscure contextual archive to dive into. It’s all gone. Yes the MySpace MP3 dragon hoard exists but that only covers content from 2008-10.
After hearing the news of the server fuck up, I’ll admit that my first thought was ‘oh boy I’m glad all thoes blog posts and painful DMs are gone forever’. But my second thought was ‘Oh no. The scene’.
Even in my own life, the impact of what has been lost is colossal. Thinking about it makes me sad. Not only is my own music gone. All the music from all the bands I grew up with and alongside is all gone too. If anyone has MP3s or a scratched up CDR of my old band point.counterpoint with Adam, Miles and Dan please reach out.
I’m also on the lookout for MP3s by the slow and heavy band Cubss. Music from Kim Wilde’s Favourite Hat or the punk band Papa’s Explosion. Because every now and again I get the urge to listen to ‘Leytonstone lunchtime deals’. I suspect I’ll never hear it again.
Let me give you an example of how bad the lost in MySpace situation is. During lockdown last year I managed to boot an old external hard drive I was convinced had died. When it spun up I messaged everyone I knew asking if they wanted their own music back. Stuff like house party gigs recorded on a potato in 2001, crappy demos from folks when they were 16, songs written and performed by people I knew who are now dead. I didn’t unplug the drive for days until I had it all salvaged.
Honestly some of my mates were over the moon. Some of these MP3s were from 1999. The extension was only in use from 1995. So this shit is important, not just to me and my friends but more generally.
I’ve recently been reading the history of the early Seattle music scene. Did you know in 1985 the K-records newsletter had a print run of 2k copies? Not only that you can find lots of them scanned and archived online. All the zines, records, demos etc are out there too.
But with the great fire of MySpace it’s not just all the music that’s gone. But all the tour diaries, interviews, flyers, photos, and correspondence between artists, too.
There will be no way for any historian to look into this period of culture.
You might think that I’m being overly dramatic about the lost archives of a small punk scene from east kent. But multiply my own experience by millions of others AND then push that into mainstream culture.
Myspace was responsible for artists like: Adele, Nicki Minaj, Lily Allen, Cute Is What We Aim For, Washed Out, Arctic Monkeys, Drake, Paramore, Katy Perry, Bring Me the Horizon, The Summer Obsession, and Oneohtrix Point Never’s early noise career. The full list is far more massive.
The Internet never forgets they say, but that isn’t actually true. Some people are just more fastidious in the battle against bitrot than others.
I can’t believe it was nearly 20 years ago that the missing content was created. I’m getting old. But it’s genuinely shocking that my generation’s cultural history is lost. MySpace was so much more than proto shitposting, questionable CSS aesthetics and top 8 drama.
Don’t trust corporations, keep your own backups and tend to your own archives.
If you can’t find it, you don’t own it.
The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the episode in the edit.
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