When Arctic Monkeys announced it would be hitting the road in May and releasing its fourth album,Suck It And See
, in June, I immediately started thinking about MySpace, or the awesome site that once was. While its predominant function as a social networking site has been taken over by Facebook, there is still a gap that has yet to be filled: MySpace's role as a hub for musicians.
Once upon a time, MySpace functioned as a way for bands to share all of its pertinent information with the world without needing to have its own website. Not to mention, there was the built-in traffic of a social networking site. The best part? It was free. Bands could connect with fans and other bands easily, and fans could connect with bands and each other -- or just make MySpace pages (however illegal it was under the site's regulations) for their favorite bands, which is the reason Joy Division has a Myspace profile, and it's how Arctic Monkeys' profile initially came to be.
Sadly, as the socially interconnecting aspect of MySpace was lost to Facebook, the practicality of the site for artists fell victim, too. Facebook simply could not (and was not interested in) supporting artist-related media. It was all about people. If you currently have a page on Facebook for your band, business or cause, you know how frustrating it is to navigate, let alone use as an effective way to get your information out there.
There is no doubt sites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Reverbnation have stepped up to take MySpace's place, but as far as I can see, none have been quite as effective. For bands, MySpace offered a free website with the perfect built-in template -- not only could artists share music, they could also share a biography, tour dates, photos, videos, a blog and a direct connection to fans.
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As a performer, I loved MySpace's accessibility and power to share my band's music and show dates and fliers immediately, not only with our friends, but with the Internet world at large. You could book shows and even book tours with some ease, just by being able to browse another band's friends and find contacts. With bands that formed around this age of MySpace domination, the running joke was: What came first? The band or the MySpace page?
As a music writer, I loved MySpace because I could hit up a page and immediately get everything I needed to know about a band. Now, I dread having to go to a MySpace profile to look for anything. The site has become a virtual dead shopping mall -- it looks and operates like a mismanaged, slow-to-load wasteland of Internet real estate, rife with pop-ups. It is a skeleton of what it once was, and, unlike other social networking sites that preceded Facebook, it had a future.
What was possibly the most insane part about Myspace -- and the closest thing to this phenomenon now would be Twitter -- was that at some point, a regular old person like me could be in contact with musicians I had spent my teens admiring. Through MySpace I made connections with some idols, and ended up working with them in a creative capacity. To this day, I cannot think of another way this could have happened, and for that blessing of timing, I am grateful.
Sadly, the Internet world turned on the site a long time ago, and the word MySpace has become a designated relic of the modern lexicon. The dead space is now just a place for pornbots to friend each other and spread venereal spam, and fill your email's inbox with notifications (unless you were smart enough to close your Hotmail account connected to an almost dead MySpace profile.) What was once "A Place For Friends" now claims to be a place of "Social Entertainment." Or at least it thinks it is.