I barely pay attention to my myspace account these days. It seems whenever I log in, I have 30 comments to approve and the majority are bands letting me know about their show several states away. I guess I could turn these off somehow (like not let bands add me for one) but I’m too lazy to bother.
This got me thinking: What would I do with myspace if I were trying to promote a band? I realized, I wouldn’t even bother with it. Now, it is only fair to say that I haven’t ever really been in a band so I am talking strictly as a music fan and observer. Anyway, here are some of my reasons:
- It is impossible to stand out: Since every single band on the face of the earth, touring/signed/notsigned/crappy/good/whatever is on myspace and trying to get noticed on myspace it is impossible to stand out. I don’t care how good you are – you will not get listened to by the average user of myspace. You probably won’t be listened to by even the typical music fan on myspace. There is just so much now that most users are ignoring all bands on there anyway.
- You have no control over the site: Sure, a bit of CSS goes a long way to making your myspace page look “cool” but you can not control THEIR crappy programming that allows stuff in comments that can give other people viruses. Worse, you can’t control how fast or slow the page loads. Half the time their MP3 player seems to be having errors and won’t play. That’s nice – you finally got someone to click to your page and now your music won’t play.
- Since only “friends” make comments - you will not get realistic feedback: Your fans love you and are the ones who will add you. You family loves you and will also add you. Who is going to tell you that those new pictures look lame and the latest song sucks? None of them. Anyone else who is looking at your page will just close the window if they think you suck so where will you get your feedback. As you add more and more friends that say stuff like “cool page” and “thanks for the add” you risk believing the hype and never improving.
- Makes you lose focus: Bands should be out playing!! People want to experience your music live and 90% of your effort should be placed on this. Stuff like myspace has created a huge pile of musicians who imagine themselves as awesome marketers and spend their free time learning about how to get more plays of their songs online instead of actually being out there and playing.
- If you get a ton of online fans, it can be a pretty useless fanbase: Let’s talk straight business. You want to have people at your shows, sell merch, and sell CDs. People online typically don’t want to pay for music – whether you agree with that or not. Also, having fans all over the world may mean your local shows draw no one , so you won’t get paid. There is something to be said for creating a real life community of fans in your hometown. These people are much more likely to support you by buying CDs , attending your shows, and telling their (REAL LIFE) friends how much you rule. Since they know you as a person, and have met you – it just makes it easier. You can slowly expand this group as you play more out of town shows.
Later, I’ll post what I would do instead. Maybe I would have a myspace page, but I would NOT be a friend adding machine – and it would be a small part of a very different type of online music strategy.
Edit: See the second post here: If I were in a band: How I Would Promote Online