MySpace, which was once the most trafficked website on the internet, has admitted that some 50 million user-uploaded songs as well as other files have been lost due to a server malfunction.
Concern has been mounting on Reddit and on social media over the past year as users who kept their files on MySpace started having trouble accessing their music. The affected files are from 2003 and 2015 and come from about 14 million recording artists.
The company, now a unit of Meredith Corp., blamed a server migration gone wrong, replying to users inquiring via email that files had been “corrupted” during the process. “Any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available,” a MySpace statement said, according to numerous media reports over the weekend. “We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your back up copies.”
On message boards and on social media, the news spurred questions about cloud storage and the reliability of third-party servers. “Someday, this will happen to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.,” Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing wrote. “Don’t trust the platforms to archive your data.”
MySpace is a significant, if today largely overlooked, chapter in the evolution of the digital media business. After catching fire as the original mass-scale social network, its traffic in the mid-2000s surpassed that of even Google. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. acquired MySpace in 2005 for $580 million. Sumner Redstone, then chairman of Viacom, fired Tom Freston as the company’s CEO, blaming him for his inability to prevail in the bidding for MySpace.
When the fickle winds of the internet shifted direction, though, Murcoch would see his onetime prize shrink drastically. MySpace was sold for $35 million in 2012. After passing through other hands, it was bought in 2016 by Time Inc., which was then absorbed into Meredith.