How MySpace Works

MySpace Users

Some of the first people to utilize MySpace were musicians and bands, who may have heard about it in the first place from the Web site's founders, who were active in the L.A. music scene. Bands used it to establish a free online presence to post performance dates and communicate with their fans. In 2004, MySpace became a full-fledged Internet indie-music portal with the creation of MySpace Music, a subsection on MySpace. The new area let bands not only create an online presence, but also stream their music through their MySpace profiles and let people download MP3s of their songs, all for free. This attracted even more musicians, along with the demographic most known for consuming music: teenagers and 20-somethings.

And what do teenagers and 20-somethings desire most? Many would tell you it's freedom to express themselves without censorship, and MySpace got it right in this area. The only things MySpace censors is hate speech and extreme nudity (you'll find some bare breasts and buttocks, but that's about it). It's more accessible and more customizable than any networking site that came before it. Users can add music, video, graphics, new fonts and crazy layout schemes to their profiles. They can use graphics and video files that are hosted elsewhere. The "do what you want, we don't care" attitude is a big draw for 16- to 25-year-olds (and everybody else except their parents, probably). Everyone can access full profiles, even if they haven't registered, and they don't need to have any particular affiliation (with a school, business or interest) to use the site.

So, if MySpace is for everyone, who is actually using it? Sixteen- to 25-year-olds make up the majority of MySpace users, and 25 percent of users are registered as minors (aged 14 to 17 -- you need to be at least 14 to register). But you'll find people of all ages using the site for all reasons. There are kids who are clearly about 12 lying about their age because MySpace is the place to be. There are 30-somethings looking to meet people because it's hard to make friends once you're out of grad school, 50-somethings embracing the online networking trend to find new business associates, and 70-somethings looking for a date. You can switch up all of those ages and purposes. You'll find people looking to publish their poetry online or advertise and accept orders for their latest book through their profile page. Unsigned bands use the site to get their music out there and build a following. Established artists like Madonna, the Black Eyed Peas, Audioslave and Billy Corgan use the site to communicate with fans and get feedback on tracks.

It's probably starting to become clear why Rupert Murdoch thinks MySpace is worth more than half a billion dollars. MySpace is a popular-culture magnet.