MySpace has thrown open its doors to app developers, giving them real time access to all MySpace users’ activities via a new suite of APIs.
Now, every time Jenny friends somebody, posts a photo or writes a blog post, you’ll be able to make that notification show up in your app mere seconds after it happens.
The company announced the new Real Time Stream API, along with two other social APIs, Wednesday morning at the Le Web conference in Paris, France. It posted all the details on its developer website and kicked off a contest to see who can create the best apps. The new APIs offer access to every MySpace user’s stream in real time. MySpace publishes its user activities using the ActivityStrea.ms format, and it’s using PubSubHubbub to push the streams out in real time.
Wednesday’s announcement comes during a big week for MySpace. Only a day before, the company completed its acquisition of iMeem, the music sharing service, which also published ActivityStrea.ms data about its users’ actions. It also comes the same day that Facebook announced it was making status updates from its users publicly available to the web at large — previously, the default setting was to only publish status updates to Facebook’s own platform or approved Facebook apps. The new APIs at MySpace will allow its developers to post users’ updates with the same frequency as Facebook and other services.
So, what’s going to happen next?
MySpace has long been eclipsed by Facebook as the hottest social network for individuals, but bands and musicians of all levels remain incredibly active on MySpace. Lots of musicians don’t even have a website anymore, they just have a MySpace page, and maybe a Twitter account. A handful of major clubs in every city book all of their shows using MySpace. If you’re in a band, you pretty much have to be on MySpace — like it or not. It’s one of the key web tools driving the music industry right now.
However, one big thing missing from MySpace’s music experience (well, one of the big things) is the ability for people to easily share a song they like. When an artist uploads a song, their status update provides a link to that song. But for fans, all music sharing happens through playlists, which are clunky.
If you are listening to a song and you want to tell all your friends about it, you add it to your profile playlist. That action shows up in your stream, and the song shows up in the player widget on your MySpace profile, (Here’s what it looks like). It’s only there as long as you decide to keep it there, and since MySpace only get 10 songs at a time, if you’re an avid music lover, chances are it won’t be there for longer than a day or a few hours.
Compare this to other popular music sharing services, like LaLa, Mog, Last.fm and iMeem, or even smaller ones like TheSixtyOne, and you’ll notice that it’s much easier for users to send a Facebook update or a Tweet about a particular song they like (and as many songs as they like) complete with a short link leading back to the page where their friends can listen to the song right away. They don’t have to deal with playlists or anything similar, they just share a link to that song.
It’s an elegant and direct way to spread music, which is why it’s become the standard for song sharing on every social network except for MySpace.
This open sharing, along with direct short URL links, is one of the most powerful forces for artist exposure, and for fans to express enthusiasm, driving the music business. For evidence of this, see Ted Greenwald’s post on our Epicenter blog, “Geeks to Music Industry: APIs Can Set You Free
,” about how open song sharing is changing the way people engage with and encounter new music.
MySpace’s music sharing system works, but it feels backwards and weird when compared to the rest of these tools. But with the purchase of iMeem and with the launch of these new APIs, we’ll probably see some positive changes quickly.
For MySpace’s sake, we hope so. The only reason for most of us to visit MySpace these days is to interact with bands. So, anything at all that makes it easier for users to like, link to and comment on songs, and to publish those activities out onto the web in real time would be a boon for the old beast of a social network.