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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Musician Notes Bad Things Myspace Does to Music

Myspace replicates a lot of the worst features of the crumbling fake economy

It creates a web of fake identities, particularly among musicians, whose tiny bit of exposure allows them to delude themselves into thinking they might actually become "rock stars", rather than waiters, refrigerator repairmen, sandwich makers, and IT-workers, for the rest of their lives. Through the illusion guitar center and Ebay become as much of a predatory lender as was Citibank, or any casino. Getting kids to spend all their money on music gear trying to replicate at home the quality of a real studio is about as big a hustle as the sub prime mortgage was in getting people who couldn't afford homes the illusion (for a while) of having one finally.

People can delete all the bad comments they get, creating a false impression of only positive praise for themselves or their bands.

Everyone can have an rock band's ego now, even if they have never played a show or even released a full album. Everyone becomes more pretentious and stand offish from one another. The friendliness and welcoming nature of a scene is eroded.

Bands seem to be less special. People used to have to work a lot harder on their sound and proving their ability in live shows in order to be part of your life and get talked about by you and your friends. They were a lot more special, and knowing about them, and being able to wear a t shirt or a patch of theirs felt really special. Now everyone's in a band, and instead of your first experiance with them being one of getting blown away by a great live show, it's seeing their desperate self promotion and listening to their songs in a highly compressed, low quality format with bad laptop speakers or itunes headphones that don't even convey most of the song's actual sound (its low end in particular). Music becomes less special, and has less value, for all involved.

Band websites all look the same. This is efficient and "easy" for you the consumer in the same way that soft serve ice cream and drive through fast food restaurants are "easy". In both cases convenience brings with it monotony, boredom, and a predictable degradation of quality (myspace audio compression is the sonic equivalent of McDonald's mass production foods' unhealthiness). When a band designs its own website, on their own server, THAT shows of the band's own creativity. Each page or frame is a new layer to explore and be impressed with. Very little of this exists on MS. Actually visiting a band's own self designed website today is about as rare, exciting and carries with it as much novelty as does eating at a non-chain restaurant for once!

The principle of myspace is that through repetition, and people seeing your name over and over ( you uploaded a picture, you have a new song, you have a bulletin, etc...) they have the name of your band implanted in their heads more firmly, and thus people are supposed to be more likely to see your concert play or buy your album when you announce it. The problem is that this rewards people with nothing better to do than hang around the internet all day with greater "status". Thus the geekier you are, the more well known you'll be. If you spend more of your time actually having a "life", or- heaven forbid, playing shows, or writing music, you get less MS exposure.

Friends quantities and profile views and song plays are generally poor indicators of how "big" your band is. It's really quite sad how many of those friends are directly solicited by bands' themselves. There are bands that have toured twice or more times a year for more than 6 years who have loyal followings in different cities and put on fantastic live shows, who have less "friends" than people who've never played a concert but who sit at home on a computer and "friend whore" all day. DO YOU ever talk to or listen to most of the bands that YOU are "friends with"? I almost never do. There are maybe 7 or 8 different band profiles I've visited more than once and actually interacted with in the past 6 months. Two of those are bands I'm in.

All bands are now sellouts. We sell Batman films, Coca Cola,, Will Smith's new movie, and whatever else advertisers want to put on there. Rupert Murdock gets a lot of money in his bank account from you unsuccessfully trying to fill your bands SNOCAP account when you generate more online traffic.

MS can help artists get exposure, and it can help local scenes to get the word out about their events. But it also reshapes the way we perceive music and bands, and the way bands perceive themselves and their fans. In my opinion has a detrimental effect on the demeanor of most aspiring musicians that use it.

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