"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
0 items in your cart
$0
Blog // Sounds
December 8, 2010

MySpace-itis

This morning, during a meeting I heard the phrase “MySpaceItis” used to describe the tendency, amongst Hong Kong musicians to put all their music and media eggs in the (increasingly broken) MySpace basket. While musicians in other parts of the world have left or are leaving MySpace, those artists in Hong Kong who have an […]

This morning, during a meeting I heard the phrase “MySpaceItis” used to describe the tendency, amongst Hong Kong musicians to put all their music and media eggs in the (increasingly broken) MySpace basket. While musicians in other parts of the world have left or are leaving MySpace, those artists in Hong Kong who have an online presence (and many don’t) are relying solely on a MySpace page for their digital “strategy.”

Strategy rests in inverted commas because I believe that whatever you do online, as a musician, should be geared towards helping sustain yourself. That means helping your fans find and hear your music, pay you for your music (or music services) or at the very minimum, allow you to grow the pool of fans you can communicate with directly and then deepen that conversation. For something that looks much more like a real strategy, check out Mike King’s excellent post, Direct to Fan: Creating an Effective Offer Page and Fan Acquisition Techniques.

I could write a whole blog post on the problems with MySpace (despite it’s recent facelift). Instead, I’d encourage you to consider Eric Beall’s view, from a recent piece on the broken parts of the Music business,

“Maybe it’s your space– it’s not my space. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be anyone’s space anymore. In a new record of corporate bungling, within what seemed like only months of having purchased Myspace for $580 million, Rupert Murdoch had turned the once-essential site into the most awkward, slow, cumbersome, ugly, ad-heavy and useless social network of them all. Then, over the course of several years, after several revamps and corporate upheavals, the wizards who were going to make Myspace the hub of the music world actually managed to make it worse. At this point, any A&R guy faced with the prospect of having to search through Myspace to source talent should receive hazard pay. The time it takes to load, the number of pop-up ads, and the generally ghastly design make it a mind-numbing experience (and most A&R’s minds are pretty numb already). Plus, it’s just not cool.

The point is: If you’re sending a link to an A&R guy, make it to your own website, or YouTube, or SonicBids, or any other music site– but please, no Myspace. No one has that kind of time.”

Or an even more succinct and pointed comment from Andrew Dubber (in relation to ‘Quit Myspace Day’),

“Myspace is not simply irrelevant, it’s utterly poisonous.”

So, if MySpace is the beached whale of music social media, what are the alternatives? For starters check out SoundCloud, a fast growing platform for sharing and distributing music. SoundCloud allows fans to subscribe to their favourite artists and then listen to music either online, or through a mobile device (SoundCloud have their own apps). Moreover, incorporating SoundCloud onto your own site, or into social media services is easy and straightforward.

Then take a look at Bandcamp, which allows you sell direct to your fans. BandCamp is a fully featured platform and what most appeals to me about it is that the site is not just built around sustaining musicians, it is also built around sustaining the album as a way to deliver songs.

Along with these I also suggest that musicians check out CDBaby, Tunecore and IndabaMusic and perhaps most importantly of all, Topspin. Have a look here, for a few real world examples of independent musicians using Topspin as part of their strategy.

In all this it’s worth keeping control of you identity (or brand). What’s the point of coming up with a cool logo, or visual style for your band, only to dilute it in a website that is heavily branded with it’s own identity. Neutral looking sites like SoundCloud or Facebook are less problematic than some others where the artist’s identity only takes up a small space of the real estate on each page.

Perhaps the worst thing you can do is sit around waiting to be “discovered.” That ship has sailed. As the quotes above suggest, the people who could help you along the path to sustaining yourself as a musician are not going to be impressed by examples of MySpace-itis. More importantly, the tools are out there to help musicians take control of their business (for more on that, take a look at Music Power Network).

And, my final word would be to spend a little less time hanging around musicians and attending “jam sessions,” and a little more time hanging around creative professionals in other fields, like photographers, graphic designers and animators. In some ways these kinds of artists have done a better job than musicians at taking of advantage of the digital tools available for creating new creative business models.

Responses
Spike 10 years ago

With MySpace dying and Facebook failing to figure out the music, ahem, space, I think there’s plenty of room for someone to come in and be disruptive here. We oughta hook up some time and discuss.

    Fernando Gros 10 years ago

    Spike – we should. There are some great solutions out there. But, there’s still lots of needs and spaces, as you say.

Can'Tell 10 years ago

Interesting post and great tips as well! I started to join Myspace back in 2005 when it was still growing and I actually met a couple of cool people over there.

I didn’t really take Myspace seriously until I discovered many great musicians, who weren’t even signed to any label. Being impressed by the discovery, I thought it was a serious to be taken platform for independent artists (since I was desperately looking for such a platform during that time), which motivated me to finally be active there.

But then it grew more and more, got sold and so the spam feast got worst. I got bored with Myspace 2 years ago, basically because of the “check dis and dat” crap, and I hardly log on to the site anymore. I used to log-in there regularly checking all friendship requests, and actually listening to the tracks, if it was a band profile. I then added them to my list if they were ok, and declined if the music was unbearable.

It was such a torture to check out other profiles, because the majority of the designs were so bad, it almost caused eye cancer, just looking at them. Then the slow loading, oh my, thousands of glitters, pictures etc. really.

As usual, it’s over saturated with crap, so I started to disable band requests, since I didn’t plan to collaborate anyway. Myspace was cool back then and I had the highest traffic on my own website, when I was very active. I also noticed that the traffic on my website declined, when I stopped being active on Myspace. Well being active is like regular blog and bulletin posts and regular comments on your friends’ site, cause this is what increased traffic.

Right now, I believe that Myspace is finally dead and it started dying a slow death, when the Facebook hype took over. So everybody’s over at Facebook (aside from me or very few people). But Facebook never appealed to me (reasons stated on my Myspace blog ;)), so I didn’t jump on the Facebook wagon.
Oh by the way check out one of my favourite South Park episodes “You Have 0 Friends” http://www.southparkstudios.co.uk/episodes/ (Season 14, Episode 4), it’s about Facebook and it’s so effing hilarious!

I’ll check out the other platforms you mentioned as soon as I get the chance. By the way, why didn’t you mention Last FM? Cause I already created an account there, but I haven’t done anything yet. Is Last FM recommendable?

    Fernando Gros 10 years ago

    Can’Tell – thanks for your comment. It’s really helpful to read other people’s experiences. Wherever we get involved, the value will come from drawing traffic back to our “home site” whether that is a blog, or basic artist site. Sounds like you had that for a while with MySpace. Right now, I have that with Twitter and SoundCloud. The value of Last FM will come from the traffic it draws to your home site.

    Perhaps the other thing that’s missing is musicians being more intentional about driving traffic to each other’s sites. One of the reasons why tech and political blogs do well is because the authors of those sites quote each other a lot and share a lot of links. Musicians are not quite as good at that, especially once they get away from sites like MySpace or Twitter.

Mike Mahoney 10 years ago

Myspace is junk. And for some reason, Amazon has tied its Artist Central to Myspace. Navigating Myspace artists pages and such is a nightmare!

But, like much of marketing, the more channels you can get into the better, so Myspace is a necessary evil for some, especially certain genres of music.

The only thing that might be less useful than Myspace is Ping. But at least Ping is new, and has its future ahead of it.

    Fernando Gros 10 years ago

    Mike – you are right that for some genres, MySpace is not dead yet. As for Ping; well it feels like that is built to rest on something else (like Twitter). Right now it feels more like an idea that a platform.

Can'Tell 10 years ago

@Fernando

Yes, I agree that musicians driving traffic to each other’s site is rare. I don’t know why I haven’t thought about it. Perhaps because most of the musicians I know don’t have their own website. Or if they did, they weren’t that “active” so traffic wasn’t present, thus useless.

Another thing that drove me to Myspace, was the high user count = more exposure (if discovered). I used to be active at a musician’s forum before I joined Myspace, and since the registered users there weren’t that high, it didn’t result in much traffic.

It was therefore important for me, to present myself, where the chances for exposure are greater. I mean, there were indeed other better musicians’ platforms, the time I joined Myspace, but with just a few thousands compared to a couple of million members, it was the deciding point for me.

Another thing was, like I mentioned, is that I wanted to be exposed to “regular folks” (potential fans) and not to musicians, cause I wasn’t intending to collaborate anyway.

    Fernando Gros 10 years ago

    Whichever platform we jump on, SoundCloud LastFM or whatever, I feel like getting out to people’s mobile devices is really important.

fuji 3d camera 10 years ago

Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your and your to join the mailing list.