Myspace vs. the Internets

A couple of weeks ago, dashing off an email in my usual flippant way, I ruffled a few feathers by stating that Myspace had killed off the crappy, hand-made band site. Certainly no offense to anyone was intended -- in fact I admitted that I couldn't decide whether to celebrate or mourn the change. On the one hand, as a music journalist, I'm often trying to find out about bands on deadline, and Myspace has made that tremendously easier. On the other hand, it's always poignant to see another step toward uniformity and away from quirkiness. A Myspace page with a muddy background image that renders all the text illegible -- nice though that is -- just doesn't count as creativity, compared to a hand-made site where all the navigation buttons appear as, say, old-fashioned candies that unwrap themselves when moused over, complete with low-resolution jaggies.

So, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, and flippancy, I provide the following analysis of Myspace as compared to the hand-made band site.

When you go to OurCleverBandName.com:

- The "upcoming shows" section is likely to list a gig from November of 2004.

- The Band Bio page will say "Coming Soon!!1!"

- The MP3 page will say, "Comming soon!!"

- The link section includes the websites of four other bands, three of which are defunct. But there is seldom a link to the band's Myspace page, even though you know they must have one.

Then you go to myspace.com/ourcleverbandname:

- Forty percent of the time, /ourcleverbandname was taken in 2004 by a 13-year-old from the suburbs, so the actual page is named myspace.com/unrelated_joke.

- When you find the page, you immediately hear a song, whether you want to or not. If you're at work or a funeral, you'd better be quick on the stop button.

- The page tells you right away what town the band is from. Very useful for a local music writer, unless they've amusingly listed their hometown as "Orbiting the Disco Moon."

- If you really want to see their handmade site, Myspace includes that link. It is often spelled correctly.

- Embracing the actual purpose of Myspace, you habitually check how many friends the band has, and perform some version of this judgmental, rough, yet highly intuitive instant analysis:

1-9 friends: Not so much a band as a guy who thinks he can convince one of his friends to play drums, but can't figure out how to get Mom to let them practice in the basement.

10-25 friends: They have played, but never in front of an audience that did not include relatives.

26-50 friends: Actually playing gigs.

51-100 friends: Actually playing gigs for money.

101-250 friends: Steady players with a CD in the works.

251-999 friends: Have been acquiring groupies for three years. CD is out.

1000+ friends: Band members themselves never look at Myspace any more. Someone -- an S.O., brother-in-law or publicist -- checks the page from work and occasionally calls the band to get a ten-word answer to a message. Then the maintainer types the response into Myspace. This process requires four weeks.

10000+ friends: This is actually a fan site. The band members don't even know it exists, and are probably too old, too rich, and/or too high to use the Internet at all. However, at least half of the friends think that this is an official page lovingly tended by the world-famous artist in person.

50000+ friends: This page is created and maintained by the marketing department at a major label. While the full-time marketing staff is smoking weed in the break room and talking about which celebrities they've seen naked, an unpaid intern spends 7 hours a day on Myspace, deleting all non-gushing comments and accepting every friend request, including those from other marketing interns and imaginary prostitutes. Once a week, a paid employee cuts and pastes a press release into the blog or links to a poster made by the art department and digitized by another unpaid intern.


Chris said…
Great post! :D