How MySpace (might) change the world
5 days on MySpace, and I'm already starting to see how it could affect so many things
Music seems to be a natural fit. Every page has the option of adding tracks to a music profile that plays whenever anyone visits your site. So if you're a musician you can feature your own songs. But the clever part is that you can click "Add" on any track and it will appear on your own profile - so it's an amazing way to quickly spread the word virally.
MySpace is a weird place, though. It's like one of those first "grown-up" parties you went to when you were at school - where you came into contact with people who were different from you and your friends - and were both fascinated and horrified by them.
I've had quite a few invitations to become friends with other MySpacers. (Did I tell you Paul McCartney is one of my friends?) Anyway, by clicking through to three of the invitations I got a fascinating insight into the MySpace phenomenon.
First, I looked at reMEMBER, a London band that describes themselves as "Huns with Attitude". Determined to give them a fair hearing, I listened to most of 'Pigriff' and some of 'Aliendirge' - sadly I couldn't bring myself to try 'Dogfish'. reMEMBER will have to rely on others for MySpace friendship and more…
Next, Fantana, whose occupation is listed as "being famous". Unbelievable. I assume (hope) that he's joking when his profile says:
"Not just as smart as he is sexy, Fantana is taking Britain by storm. Loved by millions, he has a devoted fan base and a harem of beautiful women who tend to his every need."
Then again, you never know: "Fantana is not just all about play. He often gives to charity and is involved in many fund raising events. He ran the London marathon and probably would have won if he had not stopped to carry individuals less fortunate them himself. Radiating love and happiness everywhere he goes, Fantana often visits children's hospitals and performs some of his songs and plays for the children and nurses."
In any case, I don't think I want to be his friend, since "Being a friend to me means for £2 I will beat you to within an inch of your life with a pool cue." Sorry, Fantana, but thanks for the offer.
Finally, SOULAR. A decent sounding American band who seem to have a healthy touring schedule coming up including Hollywood's Viper Room.
Scrolling down the messages, it was interesting to see the combination of fans and people involved in promoting the band, for example someone called Anders who managed to mention specific titles and dates in his good luck messages. There was also a promotions company urging fans to get involved by emailing radio stations, checking out online magazines, etc. in return for goodies.
Then there's a couple of messages from someone called Sheila Swift, who also turns out to be a singer. Clicking onto her MySpace site, there's a large clickthrough ad for - guess who? - SOULAR. This is the new music business in glorious operation.
So there's no shortage of new music waiting there for me to discover - there are over a million band/artist sites on MySpace. The problem is how to filter the good from the bad. This used to be the job of the record company, the radio stations and music journalists. Now the people who shape the music you listen to and the movies you like are people from all over the world that you've never met and never will; in fact you don't even know if they are who they say they are.
In theory, in this global community you can see what your friends and other influencers like, and use their experience to help you find what you like. And if you like something, just post it on your profile or send it to your friends, and soon you have an Arctic Monkeys thing going.
In a genuine community, full of real people with genuine opinions, likes and dislikes, this is a pretty good model. However, as I've discovered, the MySpace definition of a friend is often someone who wants to sell you something, even if it's themselves. If your friends are made up of wannabes, promoters and marketers, you'd probably be better off trusting your enemies...