On March 18, it was reported that MySpace lost over 50 million songs by almost 15 million artists during a server migration late last year. Thanks to an academic study, a small portion of songs uploaded between 2008 and 2010 — about 490,000 mp3 files — have been recovered.
Unless you know what to look for, the archive, which the site’s creators (including TextFiles proprietor and Internet Archive archivist Jason Scott) are calling “The MySpace Dragon Hoard,” is somewhat difficult to navigate. The top of the page reads “lostmyspace.com: a place for loss,” a nod to MySpace’s original slogan. After the search function, called the Hobbit, pulls up whatever you’re looking for, you can use the toolbar to play, pause, or skip to other songs; you are unable to skip ahead in the song (if you try, the song will restart). It’s a very limited approach to music listening that anyone who makes use of other more sophisticated services may find frustrating. But it’s there, and it’s for those of us who enjoy a turn toward the past.
ANNOUNCING THE MYSPACE MUSIC DRAGON HOARD, a 450,000 song collection of mp3s from 2008-2010 on MySpace, gathered before they were all "deleted" by mistake. https://t.co/oIunuHF7wc includes a link to a special custom search and play mechanism that lets you search and play songs. pic.twitter.com/aGkFPDBN7r— Jason Scott (@textfiles) April 4, 2019
There are more benefits to the Hobbit than simple nostalgia. Apart from random unknown and many untitled songs, there are a slew of early recordings from well-known rappers like Donald Glover (operating under the name mcDJ with songs like “Booty LSD”) and the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. Some of these songs are already available on YouTube, but the benefit to the archive is that you can download these songs into mp3s with file names like "std_c330d4916de0f702614f95644d399568" (“He’s Alive” by The Last Emperor ft. RZA) for free.
On top of this, the search bar can be a fun place to explore your feelings, if the mood hits. For example, when I searched “anger,” the song “Anger as Art” by thrash metal band Anger as Art came up, followed by “I am the Anger” by Greek power metal band Firewind. Search “sad” and you might come across something like pianist Ran Blake’s “Sadness,” a discovery that placed me in a more melancholic mood. As expected, there are some pretty bad songs, too. Take, for example, the first result for a “time” search: “Time Warp” by Time Warp, which sounds like a Black Sabbath cover band tuning their instruments. This kind of “type in a word and see what pops up” approach can be used in modern services like Spotify and Apple Music, of course, but there’s something novel about exploring a snapshot of what music was being produced by aspiring musicians a decade ago.
With music streaming services now standard for listeners, as well as well-crafted DIY platforms like Bandcamp and SoundCloud, I’m not sure how much anyone really misses MySpace’s musical capacities. Regardless, the gems are there, and it’s fun to search around not really knowing what you’ll happen upon next.