Image credit: Kelly Bailey
I’ve built web sites for a couple of my favourite independent metal bands – namely, Cauldron Black Ram and Nails of Imposition. When talking about their requirements in terms of social media, both bands were quick to stress that they wanted to be done with MySpace (MySpaz, MySuck, etc) once and for all, were reluctantly using Facebook even though the tools available for bands were limited, and were embracing Bandcamp – which, although great for streaming music and allowing digital purchases, is no replacement for a full web site.
Being a web developer by trade, it’s always been my position that every band/business/individual should have their own web site that they fully control, instead of relying on a profile on a third party site which almost certainly has company profit and not the user’s best interest at heart. This was borne out when MySpace turned to MySuck, and again every time Facebook changes some minor aspect of how the site operates resulting in tiresome panicked status updates pointlessly urging mass user exodus or hollow threats of “facebook suicide”. Yeah, we all have those “friends”.
That’s not to say that profiles on social media sites are not useful – in most cases fantastic, and in some even essential – for bands. At the moment I would not recommend that a band didn’t have at least a Bandcamp and Facebook profile, and quite possibly profiles on Twitter, YouTube, LastFM, ReverbNation, and yes, even MySpaz, in addition to their own dedicated web site and mailing list.
And just like you never know when a service is going to go south, there’s also the possibility that one that has been discounted will rise, zombie-like, from the grave. It looks like this might – maybe, possibly, hopefully? – be the case with MySpace. The service’s history is interesting – it started out small, got stupidly popular, sold for
a gazillion US $580 million to one of the largest media companies inthe world, who managed to completely destroy all credibility it ever had before offloading it for a mere US $35 million just five years later. I don’t know about you, but those numbers are so stupidly staggeringly huge that they have almost no meaning at all to me. There must have been some serious incompetence going on there.
But it turns out that the new owners – one of whom is pop pretty boy Justin Timberlake – have a plan, man. A completely new MySpace is in private beta and the video that they have released looks pretty interesting, if you can imagine replacing all the crap music with appropriately brutal alternatives (maybe turn the sound down before watching). Check it out below:
There’s also a vaguely interesting interview in Wired with “TV music supervisor Scott Vener” who is the “curator” of the new MySpace, whatever that actually means.
While it’s tempting to dismiss anything they do as “too little, too late” I think that as yet, there is still no great platform for bands to promote their music, and so a definite opportunity exists. Facebook sometimes tries but being so singlemindedly focused on profit and annoyingly changeable, historically, means it just doesn’t do a good job. Bandcamp does one thing really well – streaming and sale of digital music – but it does only that one thing, and bands really need more. The other sites have their uses but there is no all-in-one solution.
Could MySpace pull it off? They certainly have nothing to lose. It will be interesting to watch.