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Thursday, July 23, 2009

ILL RANT: Musicians, Quit MySpacin' and Facebookin' and Step Up Your Web 2.0 Game Already

By RAYMOND CUMMINGS

There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just say it: MySpace is not enough, and if you are at all serious about making music and serious about building an audience of fans/listeners (be it 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 or 5 million) - and by "you," I mean rappers, rockers, noise dudes and dudettes, twee-pop imps, dulcimer soloists, 17th wave punk upstarts, vegan/freegan hardcore nihilists, beardo folkies, classically-trained cellists, scatters, R&B hopefuls, beatboxers, and everybody else besides, too - you've gotta think bigger than MySpace. Launching a MySpace page to rep yourself, your scene, or your set should represent a mere component of a larger online promotional strategy - it shouldn't be that strategy's alpha and omega.

Look, I totally get why musicians love MySpace! It's free. To a degree, you can customize your page. It allows you to keep up with friends and fellow travellers, and you can plug in your upcoming tour dates, stream mp3s and YouTube clips, accrue admirers, and allow random strangers to relentlessly plug their wares/shows in the comments. (Which, admittedly, has led yours truly to some significant discoveries.) It's a pretty awesome tool, Rupert Murdoch property status aside - I'll give it that.

But, like, relying on a MySpace page as the sole portal for one's art on the Internet is weak sauce. It's sort of like finishing medical school and pitching a pup tent on an empty lot and inviting patients in for appointments. Here's the thing about MySpace; MySpace is a social networking service that is accessible to people with decent, unfiltered Internet connections. But a lot of people - including me, to be honest - aren't able to spend long stretches of time on unfiltered Internet connections. Employers and libraries unfailingly block MySpace. This means that those of us who want to learn more about what a given artist has to offer can't find out much if we don't have a home net connection or have absolutely no time to explore MySpace while at home (being a parent/spouse/homeowner will do that) or if your mp3s aren't available on a non-MySpace page. Bottom line: MySpace-only representation is fucking lazy.

Buying a domain name and fronting a dime bag to an HTML-savvy pal in exchange for him/her throwing discography/sample mp3s/bio/pictures/live sets/etc. up on the page won't cost much, and it'll up your visibility and cachet considerably; it'll demonstrate that you mean it. (No need to get into a bunch of Java-enabled bells and whistles; that's distracting, wasteful, and stupid.) Or, if money's an issue or that's just too complicated/time-consuming, starting a
basic blog or Last FM (muso-oriented social networking that's way less likely to be restricted) is free, lets you stream tons of songs, and (provided your name/content isn't crude) democratic, allowing Internet café users worldwide to find out what you're all about. Lo-fi examples about: check out Swanshit, Jay Reatard, or NYC's Religious Knives for examples of what I'm talking about.

Just some food for thought, okay?

2 comments:

Khate said...

Amen, brother --- weak sauce indeed. Also, I hate how Myspace automatically starts playing tracks. Maybe I just want to check you out and read up on your info, location, influences, etc., before your free-jazz screamo band starts blaring at me...? Making your audience rush for their volume knobs is no way to treat a guest. I like that one must opt-in to hear to my stuff.

Raymond Cummings said...

Amen, sister. And you know what? I can't even listen to songs on MySpace pages right now even if I WANT to because I don't have the next-gen Java plug-in or whatever.