Myspace has apparently lost most or all of the music files uploaded by its users before 2015, and it told users that the data was corrupted beyond repair during a server migration. Myspace apparently admitted the problem to concerned users seven or eight months ago, but so few people noticed that there wasn’t any news coverage until the past 24 hours.
Myspace, the once-mighty social networking site, has existed since 2003 but has been fading into obscurity for the past decade. Many musicians used to rely on Myspace to spread their music, and over the years it hosted 53 million songs from 14.2 million artists.
Some of Myspace’s loyal users noticed more than a year ago that they couldn’t play music or download music files and asked Myspace for answers. Myspace initially told those users that it would recover the lost data, but months later it admitted that the files were gone forever.
It isn’t clear what caused the data loss other than a “server migration” problem referenced by Myspace, and the company hasn’t said whether it kept any backups or what happened to any such backups. We contacted Myspace today and will update this story if we get any new information.
“No way to recover the lost data”
In February 2018, a Myspace support rep told a user, “There is an issue with all songs/videos uploaded over 3 years ago,” according to a transcript of the support email posted on Reddit at the time. “We are aware of the issue and I have been informed the issue will be fixed, however, there is no exact time frame for when this will be completed. Until this is resolved the option to download is not available.”
A few months later, Myspace had worse news for customers.
“Due to a server migration, files were corrupted and unable to be transferred over to our updated site. There is no way to recover the lost data,” a Myspace rep told a user in an email posted on Reddit seven months ago.
Around the same time, another Reddit user reported seeing this message at the top of the Myspace music player: “As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your backup copies.”
Myspace’s admissions went mostly unnoticed until another Reddit thread was posted yesterday with the title “Myspace lost all music uploaded from 2003 to 2015.” That thread led to a tweet by Andy Baio, an entrepreneur, blogger, and former CTO of Kickstarter, which got thousands of retweets and likes. Numerous news articles about the problem have been published today.
“I’m deeply skeptical this was an accident,” Baio wrote. “Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than ‘we can’t be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50 million old MP3s.'”
Myspace: Keep backups (even though we didn’t)
A Myspace support page says users can “download songs and videos with the file type MP4 and M4A” but that “these are the only file types available to download.”
Moreover, the support page says that “FLV [Flash video] files can no longer be played due to a player update” because Myspace updated the media player to HTML5. “Unfortunately, we do not offer a way to play or download these videos,” Myspace said.
Another Myspace support page titled “Where Is All My Old Stuff?” seems to have worse news for people looking to download old music. “We completely rebuilt Myspace and decided to move over some of your content from the old Myspace,” the page says. The page then lists two types of old content that are still available: “Photos” and “Friends.” Anything else is apparently gone.
“If you are looking for something that is not on this list, that means the content is no longer available and cannot be retrieved,” the page says.
Myspace still offers the ability to listen to and upload music. Myspace support pages advise users to keep extra copies of uploaded content, and that’s certainly good advice even though Myspace itself may not have followed it. Uploading a file to a social network site is no guarantee that it will always be available. Even if you’re using a popular site that seems like it could never go the way of Myspace, it’s wise to back up uploaded files to local disks and/or to a dedicated backup service.