The largest problem to learning about local bands is that most either do not have a web site, or have one that was updated last in 2004. This may have something to do with the cost and difficulty of creating and updating a web site. It also is tough when your web site ends up as number 1,000,000 on a list in a search engine. That all is changing with the creation of the site www.myspace.com.
In the past year Myspace.com has enlightened the bands, fans, and everyone else who has created their own “space”. Mark Lindquist of The Little Black Books told me, “I think Myspace.com helps younger bands and older ones alike. Accessibility is a good thing when you’re trying to promote things on your own. Computers are an easy and cheap way to get more people to check out your songs without having to pay a manager 10 percent of the nothing you make anyway to do it for you.” The average band makes very little playing the bars around town, and original bands have an uphill battle even getting shows. When you are trying to expose people to your music Myspace.com becomes a springboard for any band to easily create a space on the net. Bands can put music, video, pictures, and tons of information on to their “space”. As the popularity increases more bands are finding new fans in all sorts of places.
I asked Bill Mike (The Bill Mike Band) what he thought of the new technology and he had lots to say in its favor. He said, “Myspace.com for musicians has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only does it level the playing field in the all elusive world of music business, but it gives power back to the artists and allows us all to connect and communicate instantaneously. Where else can I chat with Nels Cline of Wilco, Mike Watt, and Sage Francis while I'm drinking coffee at home. The music business has many walls because it has an unhealthy complex of self importance. Bands will start to realize that the traditional methods of music protocol are an old dinosaur. When you retain as much power as you can and work hard each day as an individual you build a career. Just go ask Slug and Sage Francis, Myspace.com will lead to other new inventive forums of communication.”
The future is on the horizon and Myspace.com is only the first steps. It should be noted that about a year ago Myspace.com was bought by Media Titan Rupert Murdoch. It has chat rooms, blogs, and everything the young techy needs. You can ask people to be your “friend” and bands from The White Stripes to The Little Black Books have many of them. The site isn’t just for musicians to talk to each other though, it is for everyone.
The average Joe can create a Myspace.com “space”, and put their own preferences in music on the site. Another nice aspect is that once you become a band’s “friend” you will be notified by a group email of upcoming events. With all levels of bands this makes for a great way to find when your favorite band might be coming to town or releasing a CD. Myspace.com also lets everyone put up their own backgrounds, do funny quizzes to tell people your preferences, and probably has led to some romances. To a generation that has become computer savvy it also connects like minded people. For example, when Hydrophonics played Duluth a few months ago there were several people who had talked on Myspace.com about the band and ended up meeting for the first time at the show. Imagine what this does for bands who are trying to get all their fans out to shows and the people who are trying to make friends in the process. It is tough to find people who are interested in the same things. This site is making it so that the next time you go and see your favorite band it isn’t with the annoying person you sit next to at the office and hates that kind of music. You end up finding the other person out there who is interested in Celtic folk rapping with dashes of punk and country.
Not all the news is positive though as a recent episode of NBC’s Dateline reported. With all of the information that people list on their “space” there are possibilities for predators to have a catalog of children to choose from. Myspace.com does have an age requirement of 14 years old, but they do not have a way to verify those ages. In the Dateline story a young 13 year old girl talked about getting around the age requirement by saying she was 18. With the nature of the many provocative photos that people put up on their “space”, there could be problems if young people divulge too much information.
Looking through the site it was surprising how many people list where they attend school, last name, addresses, etc. You can also look up people using criteria like the city they are from, their age, or other information which could make children vulnerable. To the bands and adults it is the newest way to meet like-minded people. Everyone should just be careful how much they reveal about themselves in a public forum. Nothing in life can be completely safe, but with a little caution the site is a great way for young people searching for great music to find some without being spoon-fed the same crap.
“The times they are a changin’”, but with new uses of the internet popping up all the time it is a bright future ahead. No longer are you a slave to your TV, radio and the programmed view. Myspace.com and let you satiate the craving for communication and make a few friends along the way.