Skyrock uses the short and sweet slogan, “free people network”, to optimize their message. Since universality says we are all equal, anyone can join this site and connect with people all over the world through the globalization of the internet.
In 1986, Pierre Bellanger founded the Orbus group corporation, through which he created Skyrock.fm, a national FM radio station in France, which targeted a youthful market. It was inspired by the “Radio Libre” movement which stated that people should be able to freely express themselves via radio (wikipedia.org). With its 4 million daily listeners, this 96,0 station plays 24/7 and provides information on upcoming concerts, new albums, and any music-related gossip.
On December 17th, 2002, Bellanger began a blogging site known as Skyblog.com, changing the name to Skyrock.com in 2007 to broaden its image as a social networking community instead of solely a blogging site. One year later, Skyrock.com was ranked the 7th largest networking site in the world with over 21 million users. Initially its concentration focused on the French-speaking community, making it a hometown favorite over Myspace and other competitors.
What does Skyrock.com have to offer? It is now available in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese as well. Once signing up on their website, you can add new friends, chat with other users, use Skymail and messaging, post pictures, or search for potential dates, making it similar to Myspace and Facebook. However, the one main difference is that Skyrock.com has a blog section where users can talk about their feelings on various issues, showcase their music, or add links to other websites. There are 24 different skins you can choose for your blog as well as easy-to-use text editing. You can adjust privacy setting to manage who can view your profile and who can post comments. Through cell phone SMS, you can post on your blog, see how many people are visiting your page, and leave voice messages (skyrock.com). Like Myspace, it also has its own brand of music marketing. Artists like Outkast and Pharrell have their own official pages, where new photos, tour dates and other information is posted (Cashmore).
In 2005, the website became a huge money enterprise for Orbus by bringing in $6.4 million in advertising income. This addition of an online networking site in association with the FM radio station was a genius idea since Bellanger knows that “the new medium is people, the new culture is participatory. The new generation has made continuous connection to the web a common practice - conversation is at the core of the relationships, and the web is the new centre of gravity” (Andrews). Skyblog communicated with Skyrock.fm’s advertisers like McDonalds, Sony, Nike, etc. to have them advertise on its website. Skyrock makes marketing campaigns for its advertisers by creating small product-directed blog sites where users can learn about new products and make comments. Advertisers pay for the design of their campaign and a day-to-day fee to keep up their ads (Cooper). Even French politicians communicate their messages using this medium. Skyrock plays into Guy Debord’s ideas of the society as a spectacle because we are seduced by outrageous claims overshadowing the reality of the finished product. Advertisers create phantom images to promote product sales and increase profits.
Skyrock promotes the youth market. It helped the French Army to increase its enrollment by creating a reality TV show called “Full Immersion”, in which young people who were against the military switched lives with an army man for a short amount of time. The casting took place through Skyrock which was a huge success (Cashmore). Another company, La Caisse d’Epargne bank used Skyrock to build the first banking website aimed at youths.
Although this site has been a huge phenomenon, there has been some negative attention. Several criminal prosecutions were made against adolescents who attempted to start riots against the police and schools through Skyblog entries. One teenager wrote "unite, Ile-de-France, and burn the cops, go to the nearest police station and burn it" (Crampton). Young middle-school students came dressed in doo-rag gangs and spoke out negatively against the faculty. Interestingly enough, none of the arrested individuals knew each other; however, they had all used Skyblog to send out their messages. This situation brings up the issue of private versus public realms which Raymond Kuhn wrote about. Do police have the right to go into students’ blogs and find out what they had been privately talking about amongst each other?
It was difficult to find recent information about Skyrock, so I decided to interview a few of my French friends to hear what they had to say. With all the company’s ‘proclaimed’ success, it was interesting to hear they all agreed that Skyrock is no longer a success and only used today by people from suburbs and lower-class neighborhoods. One specifically said that the website is only used by people who “listen to rap music all the time, dress badly, and write French poorly using a lot of weird signs like this ‘O mY God j'AdOore ça ^^mdr’” (Alazraki). They all spoke of how the social networking site was very popular back when they were about 13 and 14, but ever since Facebook took over, no one they know uses it anymore. The website also lost popularity because parents were able to spy on what their kids were doing, even though the company claims it was private. Skyrock.fm is still fairly popular among those who like rap and hip-hip. However, there have been a few lawsuits because the station “talks about sex a lot...which is a problem because this radio is especially listened by people under 18 years old” (Tudesq).
In conclusion, while reports on Skyrock say that it is one the top social networking sites, French locals believe otherwise. Skyrock peaked back in the early 2000s but is now being surpassed by other networking/blogging companies. After creating my own Skyrock to get a firsthand look at the website and its functions, there are no unique features that would draw users away from its major competitors.