Sep
21

A Post-Facebook Music Guide for Bands, Artists, and Fans

September 21, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  39 Comments

What seems to be at the top of everyone’s mind on this 21st day of September, 2011 is the recent reconfiguration of the Facebook interface. I can tell it’s top of mind, because people’s bitch rants about the change is what occupies every one of the top 20 slots in my Facebook news stream, and from what I understand, what you see at the top of your news stream is based mainly on popularity.

Many folks are opining this is the demise of Facebook, and are fleeing to Google+. The fact is Facebook is already in rapid decline, and was even before Google+ was launched in full force. After years of record growth, including adding at least 20 million users per month over the previous year, Facebook actually lost users in May 2011, almost 6 million users, with another 1.5 million lost in Canada (read the full report). This recent reconfiguration may help escalate the Facebook decline, but it is not the cause, it was a reaction to the fear that Facebook was dying already. Even if Facebook can make it through this redesign, there is a good chance it is still doomed.

The decline of Facebook has little to do with the interface, and more to do with the drama that Facebook was scientifically engineered to create and disseminate. That was Google+’s gamble, and their ace-in-the-hole with their idea of ‘circles’ that keep information within certain groups of contacts. If Google+ wins out over Facebook eventually, these ‘circles’ will be the reason.

But both interfaces are rating what you see based on popularity, the same exact system in Nashville, New York, and LA that keeps the robust musical talent in independent circles down, while the established, mainstream acts stay afloat despite talent shortfalls. The simple fact is, since the decline of the original MySpace, the ability for artists and fans to interact and share information has been devolving. Facebook was never a viable alternative to the artist tools MySpace offered, the most important of which was the MySpace bulletin board, which was a real-time way to post and share information, that did not use some obscure formula based on popularity that chose who saw what. If you posting something, all of your friends saw it.

Twitter is the only major social networking tool available for artists and fans that does not run your information through a third-party judgement filter that decides who gets to see what, and when. It simply aggregates in a timeline bits of information from people you choose to follow, without hiding or prioritizing anything. Its character restriction limits its functionality for certain things, but at the same time, also increases its potency for others.

Listen to me, and listen good. There is nothing more important, and no bigger challenge in music right now that the ability for artists and their fans to communicate. This takes effort on everybody’s part. Lessons must be learned from the death of MySpace on how to navigate the destruction of a social network without losing the network itself. Below are some suggestions of how handle the very real possibility of the death of Facebook. Most are for bands, because they drive the boat, but fans can can help themselves and the bands by understanding how they disseminate information, and making sure they put themselves in the right channels to receive it.

Bands – Get Your Own Website

Don’t just jump to Google+ and call it good, and don’t rely on the whims of the pliable American public to afford you a viable vehicle for getting information out about your music. Every band needs a website. Even a business card website with basic information is better than nothing, but there is no better investment a band can make than a fully functional website that offers information about the band, music samples, videos, and most importantly, a blog or news feature, show calendar, and an email signup list.

Right now the biggest issue facing touring bands is the dissemination of tour dates. I cannot put into words how dumbfounded I am that there are dozens of bands out on tour right now, with no place to find their dates, mainly because many social networks make it difficult to impossible to post them.

And when you have a big announcement to make, (i.e. a new album, or an upcoming tour) don’t post that announcement on Facebook or Google+, post it on your website, and then link to it from all your social networking properties, and then send an email to your signup list. Putting original info out on social networks puts an extra layer between your information and search engines, while links on social network sites that lead to a centralized place actually help the search engines find it. Think of your website as the mother brain, with all the other sites as satellite properties.

Also understand that certain social network platforms are better for certain information than others. Work to understand what works best for you, and your followers. For example, it is probably best to post a big tour announcement through your website. But each night of the tour, announce where you will be through Twitter. Google+ might be better for personal quips or stories from the road, and pictures and video. And understand the more you post through any format in a 24 hour period, the less potency each post has. If you post something on Facebook or Google+, and then post something else an hour later, there a good chance most folks won’t see your first post at all in their news feed, that is unless the first post is more popular, then they won’t see the second. Twitter is the only format that you can be assured all your posts are accessible, but if you tweet 20 times a day, it is less likely each post will get read than if you post only 2.

And to the fans: Do your part by signing up for your favorite band’s email lists, at shows and online. We all want to stay in touch, and we all want to get information as easily as possible. We can do that through a social network’s news stream, or we can also do that through our email Inbox, which doesn’t change at the whims of some hoodie and sandals-wearing billionaire running a social engineering experiment, and your email is a place you already visit daily anyway.

Don’t Give Up on Any Social Network Too Early

We may be able to get a firm grasp on what the social networking landscape is right now, but it can change in a matter of days, Facebook just proved that. Anybody who tells you they know where social networking is going is full of it; nobody does. Who knows, Google+ could tank, and Facebook could recover. Twitter could lose it’s compass, and MySpace, now owned by Justin Timberlake, could make a big comeback. Jumping from one social network site to another is foolish. Be in as many places as you can. Spread your information out like a bad rash, and don’t give up on any social network until it is absolutely hopeless.

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Specific to savingcountrymusic.com:

We have created many tools here for artists and fans to help keep everyone connected in the post-MySpace era. The more we all utilize these tools, the better they will work. We have an active and updated Calendar that covers all the appearances by core SCM bands. The SCM News Feed in the top right corner of every page is updated 24 hours a day, in real time to try to keep everyone connected on news. For especially big news and a weekly newsletter, you can make sure your on the SCM email list, and don’t forget the message board, where you can take control and post whatever you think folks need to see, and then link to it through social networks.

 

39 Comments to “A Post-Facebook Music Guide for Bands, Artists, and Fans”

  • so very pleased to confirm my belief that facebook was comin to an end sooner than later..though, i thought it was ringing it’s own death bell near a year ago…as much as i like stayin in touch with people i’ve met around the country and the world, facebook’s lack of privacy when you desire it was something that made me avoid it personally until myspace became unuseable…
    let that bell ring…

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  • I use the ReverbNation widget to post all my shows…It’s plugged into all my websites so I only have to enter the data once….I make sure that all the major social networks are connected and automated….I’ve made millions of dollars off my music that way…lol

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    • ReverbNation does offer some excellent tools for artists. Problem is, they don’t offer a viable and active social network to go along with it. If ReverbNation was the answer, it would’ve taken off years ago. It’s too nitchy toward music. That’s what was great about music. It had its music niche, but it was so much more.

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      • That’s what was great about MySpace, you mean? If so, I agree. Reverbnation is essential for bands these days, but it doesn’t touch what MySpace was doin.

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  • If you are a Google Chrome user they have a add-on that will convert Facebook back to the way it was.

    http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2011/09/21/heres-chrome-extension-that-kills-the-facebook-news-ticker/

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    • Thanks for the link!

      Now if they will just make an add-on to make Facebook not suck ass.

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  • I absolutely refuse to sign up for Google + . And Twitter I find a cumbersome mess. And for a guy that does not want to see anything dealing with a specific subject (that shall remain nameless) I have it on my feed constantly. So as of right now I will just have to deal with Facebook and Reverbnation. Reverb. is a horrible waste of a good idea in my opinion. but that is for a different discussion.

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    • You will sign up for Google+. You will also buy a brand new Kia and start attending Zumba fitness classes. Because that’s what we do as Americans, we join.

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      • My daughter is trying to get me to Google+. I went to Facebook when I moved away so I could keep in contact with non-MySpace users and here I will stay. I am essentially a lazy type of person and thinking of setting up a new profile and learning a new system makes me want to take a nap. The Facebook changes have not affected me because I just couldn’t care less. It’s their site, they can do whatever they want to with it. My profile is set to private and all my options are still the way I want them. And Trig, threatening someone with a Kia is just mean! That’s almost as bad as predicting they will buy a Prius or one of those electric cars!

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  • I think you gave some great tips here for artists to follow. Nothing frustrates me more than when I try to find info on an artist and all they have is a Facebook page lacking of information.

    But I also think Facebook and Twitter and eventually Google+ are great tools to reach the masses. For example if I like Roger Alan Wade on Facebook it’s gonna show up somewhere in my news feed or in a side bar at sometime and hopefully one of my friends who’ve never heard anything but Pop Country takes a listen and gets turned on to a great artist and passes it on to someone else. You get the idea. It’s also a great way to find out about new artists, shows, album releases, etc…all in one spot instead of having to go to 50 different websites of your favorite artists. I think both media types (webpages and social media) have a place…they just need to change the system in a positive way.

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    • Yeah, going to 50 websites is foolish, but going to your email inbox, where you go already, where messages are aggregated from those 50 websites since you’ve signed up to be alerted with important information is just as easy as going to Facebook. And unlike Facebook or Google+, you are guaranteed to see that information.

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      • My only issue with email…is I get so much spam I don’t feel like sifting through the trash to find the important stuff so I tend not to even read most of it.

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        • I totally agree..I don’t join too many band email lists because it fills my inbox too full then I end up just deleting it because there is too much info to go through. I miss myspace and could never figure out why everyone jumped ship. I held on as long as I could till I had to switch over because noone else was left on there. It was nice to be able to customize your page and add banners and widgets for bands. I agree Facebook really isn’t setup for bands very well but it works out great for setting up events/shows and inviting people and sharing links.

          I would like to see SavingCountryMusic.com increase what they provide to be something more like LonestarMusic.com where it is one website where you can go checkout albums from artists the site follows and purchase music and merchandise for those bands. I would also love to see a page here where you can view any professional videos from artists this site covers. since videos is what really catches my attention.

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  • I check my favorite venue’s for their monthly calenders. That works too.

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  • As has been mentioned, Lucky Tubb and crew are a big victim of misinformation. You catch hell finding their and other co-touring artists records and or your dates. It’s a good thing You postem. Maybe everyone is lazy and letting You do all the work. Nonetheless I don’t give a shit .. Noone comes and sees is down here anyway. But Down does goddamnit! See ya in Mobile Sat. Night!

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  • HERE HERE!!

    “Right now the biggest issue facing touring bands is the dissemination of tour dates. I cannot put into words how dumbfounded I am that there are dozens of bands out on tour right now, with no place to find their dates, mainly because many social networks make it difficult to impossible to post them.”

    Finding tour information for bands is a total rats nest! Even if you do have a website, UPDATE IT! Seriously! Today I went to find Hellbound Glory dates only to find that the tour section of their site is dead. But don’t worry folks, they’re touring, you just have to search through a few Facebook pages to find the dates (that I’ve posted in the calendar section here).

    And I’m still looking for searchable calendar software. How awesome would that be?? :-)

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  • Apparently more Facebook changes are coming.

    http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/15517581/facebook-to-add-music-platform#.TnpajRuFWOQ.facebook

    “If you are one of the thousands who are angered by Facebook’s recent layout update, please hold your hate mail one more day because more changes are coming. Facebook will announce more tweaks at its F8 conference in San Francisco on Thursday.”

    And when they say they are adding a “music platform”, no, this does not mean better music profiles. It’s a way for you to buy music through them.

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    • I wonder how much of the money from that music will go to the artists.

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      • Like money from ANY social media platform goes to artists?

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        • Just some wishful thinking. It could be one of the best things to happen to independent/underground artists in a long time if it’s done right, but I’m sure facebook aint really worried about that. They are just trying to get back on top.

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  • Blah blah blah…come on…all social media platforms have their good points and their bad points. You obviously loathe Facebook and have made it clear over and over again. I have no vested interest in any of these platforms with the exception of the fact that I study Facebook from an academic perspective. My research stands firm whatever actual source of social media engagement people use so I’m not threatened by the “mass exodus” from Facebook that you predict with apocalyptic fervor.

    But here’s a thought: the networks that exist for fans of music are about connections between the fans and the musicians. It doesn’t matter what source you use, you can find what you need. We will all use whatever our friends are using. And when you say “popularity” in your post above, you are misleading readers. The “popularity” this new logarithm is generating are based upon YOUR own past choices. I don’t suddenly have a ton of posts about Taylor Swift in my newsfeed because I don’t hang out with anyone (except you, Trig ;) ) who listen to her.

    I’ll go wherever my friends go…because for me, it’s about my friends. And I don’t agree that any platform in particular holds up artists from furthering their careers. Just today, I learned about Olds Sleeper’s new album from Beej and I downloaded it.

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    • I am not predicting a “mass exodus” from Facebook, I am reporting on one, using Facebook’s own numbers. You saw the comments this morning.

      From the story linked to above:

      ” Now, the UI is organized by top stories, which means that the updates with the most comments and likes appear first.”

      That is popularity.

      Nowhere in the above story did I say that Facebook was not useful, or that it will not be useful in the future. In fact I tried to instruct bands of how to integrate Facebook into a more stable system of disseminating information to their fans.

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      • We’ll see with the mass exodus…time will tell.

        As to popularity…it is popularity in YOUR OWN social circle. I’m sure that when some celebrity posts something on FB, it gets more “likes” or comments than mine. For example, I am friends with Scott Biram (the person not just his music page). He gets a gazillion comments on his posts. But he isn’t in the top of my newsfeed because I DON’T GO TO HIS PAGE very often. This means that the popularity reflected by my own newsfeed is for the people that their computer programs tally as my most common contacts. It is all about ME and my user habits…not some general understanding of popularity.

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        • How did my name get changed to “KAKA”? Is someone trying to tell me something??? ;)

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        • “Mass exodus” are your exaggerated words. I never used them in this article. What I did do is reference facts that Facebook is losing users in North America, and the users it has retained are spending less time on the site.

          And as for the popularity, I never said you won’t see your friend’s posts because they’re being bumped by Brittney Spears. You might have inferred that with my Nashville & New York references, but again, you’re putting words into my mouth. I kept any personal thoughts about the Facebook format out of this article. And for all you know, my thoughts on Facebook have changed. When lately have you seen me bitch about Facebook?

          I will tell you very specifically how the “popularity” element in the news stream aggregator keeps people from quality content. Just today, I had two folks come to the site and leave comments about how I never talk about music on the site. You can find the comments here:

          http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/is-there-a-hank-williams-iv

          Two people today, and numerous people every week come to Saving Country Music, and say things like I “always” talk about this, or I “never” talk about that. Why is that? And why do album reviews and interviews, which usually take twice as long for me to write, get 10% of the traffic articles like this do? But then people turn around and say I NEVER write album reviews or do interviews? Even though it is the majority of what is on the home page? It is because people are seeing Saving Country Music through the filter of Facebook. Since Facebook only shows them the popular articles, which are usually the racy ones that don’t directly have to do with music, then they think that’s all I write about. They don’t have the presence of mind to click the “home” button and zoom out from what Facebook is showing them, they navigate to the comments section, and bitch I never talk about music, when in truth, the article they’re commenting on is sandwiched between two album reviews. Maybe not in your circle of friends, but as the article I linked to above explains, the salacious bullshit is what Facebook is designed to emphasize, while de-emphasizing things people aren’t looking at in the first place. This does two things: it keeps people from quality content, and it creates drama, and the extra drama is what is causing Facebook’s downfall. Google knew this, and that is why they made their circles, and why Facebook shortly thereafter changed it’s interface where you could better control who sees your posts. If you are truly “researching” Facebook, you should know this. These are established facts, not my opinions.

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          • Again, the numbers you site here for use habits are different from the ones I’ve seen. We would have to go back to the studies and look at the criteria being analyzed and the sources of the data in order to know for sure if, in fact, North Americans are leaving Facebook at the rates you indicate here. From the data I have seen, Google + users are also Facebook users. Most haven’t dropped one platform for the other.

            Likewise, it is a much more wealthy and elite demographic that are using Google +. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/facebook-vs-google-plus-searchers_n_941682.html So it would be a good idea for bands to realize this when they are presenting themselves in either format. If you wish to appeal to an 18-34 demographic that is wealthy, urban, and more highly educated, you should most certainly use Google +.

            My research on Facebook is on the use habits of users. That is, I look at what people actually do with Facebook and what their goals are in using it. Obviously the changes that occurred this week have bothered a lot of current users. I’m sure that Facebook has a lot of people on their staff watching and analyzing these comments. What I study is how people use Facebook to enhance their experience of community. I have been following a group of students online for over 5 months as well as interviewing them. My data hasn’t been fully chronicled or processed yet but at this point, my understanding is that all social media platforms are perceived by users as sources of distraction from what they should be doing at that time. Likewise, users view Facebook similarly to how they view a cell phone. It is a tool for them to use to keep up with people that are important to them. Most individuals do not use it for promotion of their business nor for searching for new music, etc. If they know someone has musical taste that they agree with, they will pay attention to videos this person posts on their wall. It is a social device.

            I dont’ know what to make of this new format. I think that Facebook is doing what any good capitalist organization would do in their shoes; they are watching the competition closely and trying to keep up with what people like or don’t like about other media platforms. If you think about it, Facebook handed over Twitter the “status statement” and didn’t really look back. That’s all Twitter is really if you think about it, it is the “So in so is…….” slot that used to be at the top of every Facebook user’s page. For whatever reason, Facebook decided to let go of fighting to keep that and to offer a different platform on which users can engage with one another.

            I definitely think that the older demographic will NOT switch to anything new unless if it proves to be popular for a long period of time among younger populations. With Myspace, the older generation hardly had any presence. And when Facebook co-opted Myspace’s primacy, it was because of the individualized and personalized aspect of the newer social media platform. They felt more in the heart of it all in Facebook. And over time, older folks joined in.

            I am very interested in what you are saying about popularity here. I think I understand you better now that I read this post. And this is an interesting concept. On one hand, it is good that Facebook showcases the articles on SCM that get the most comments and attention because it shows other users what their colleagues/friends/chronies are most excited about. On the other hand, it doesn’t showcase the entire package. Frankly, while sometimes I enjoy your music reviews, I prefer your blog posts that probe more sociological or economic or cultural questions. That is just me. So I look for ones on here or on FB that focus on this.

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          • “This does two things: it keeps people from quality content, and it creates drama, and the extra drama is what is causing Facebook’s downfall.”

            I think this is the point I disagree with in what you say. I’m not sure that Facebook has caused any more drama in the majority of people’s lives than any other social device. MySpace was the site for a HUGE amount of drama back in it’s hayday: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,315684,00.html
            http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_448311.html

            I could go on with these links but you get the picture. So I hardly see how Facebook is any worse than the original large scale social media platform you claim to have liked and miss.

            I also don’t agree that Facebook (until yesterday perhaps) is on a downfall. People may not be spending as much time on it as they once were, but few people have completely deleted their accounts.

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          • Also….check this out. Maybe Zuckerberg will fix all of this! lol

            http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/09/facebook-f8-what-to-expect.html

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    • Well stated. Like you I don’t use fb for finding new music I use it to keep in touch with friends. I find my music through pod casts, friends, live shows, and Amazon samples of albums, which happen to come up from results of like minded music fans purchases. Band web sites and mailing lists are good but local venues calendars are better because I’m not driving across country to see anybody unless its Slobberbone. So Triggerman be pissed or take it for what it is…A SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE! Not a find new music and where they are playing site.

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      • No social networking platform is going to be perfect for every application. But think about this: with all the various apps and features Facebook is rolling out, how hard would it be to make a simple and accessible way for bands to be able to post their tour dates on their Facebook page so that their fans could access them? Now ask yourself, what are the reasons Facebook has not done that?

        And KAK, I’m not saying that MySpace didn’t create drama, it created tons of drama. That’s why the social platform is dead.

        If drama is not an issue with Facebook as you assert, even though to 90% of the other outlets that cover Facebook point to this as one of the few known quantities, then why did Google+ specifically build a drama filter with their circles into their format, and then ,present it as the format’s main selling point? And then why did Facebook in response offer a way to restrict what posts people see?

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        • I don’t think Facebook intentionally did anything in reference to bands other than structure their platform in such a way that makes it difficult for anyone to make a buck on their site that they don’t also have a hand in the profit coffer. Any band can have a Note on their page that lists their tour dates. I used Facebook to check the dates and locations of the KOS screenings as Marc made his way with the Slowboat crew across the US. I don’t get what you are implying here.

          As for drama, Google +will face its own fair share of drama. It’s the nature of human SOCIAL networking. Facebook is not yet over so we don’t know what is yet to come in terms of the restructuring of their site. Perhaps everyone will switch to Google +. Then Facebook will die a death similar to MySpace’s death. And guess what, the drama will follow to Google +. You can’t design it out of existence. It will continue to happen wherever people meet up…in person or in a virtual context.

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  • The “people’s bitch rants” are almost more annoying than the change itself!
    I personally find it exhausting to keep up with/create/personalize/maintain new profiles each time there’s a new social bandwagon to take the reins. But as much as I find myself bitching, I find it addicting as all hell…to my shame.

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  • I do want to compliment you with my own fervor for providing musicians with a primer of sorts on how to navigate and successfully use social media to their advantage. I am sure that many artists will find their own path. In some ways, the more unique you are in your dissemination of information, the more sincere and valid your artistic expression is perceived to be. Nice work there Trig!

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  • [...] Saving Country Music posted a social media guide for artists and fans. [...]

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  • Just to take one minor topic you mentioned here in the comments and give my take (for no real good reason other than it’s something I think about from time to time).

    In regards the people who complain about the content you create here, the whole too much hating on pop country, not enough reviews thing. Personally, I read nearly everything that you put up here because it’s something new and insightful that pertains to one of my major interests. BUT, if there’s an article that’s guaranteed to generate a ton of bickering back and forth via comments, I’m likely to check back on that article 5-10 times a day just to read the latest comments. I find it entertaining and most of the time I don’t even get involved, I just enjoy watching people go back and forth.

    But with reviews, if it’s an artist I’ve never heard of before, I’ll read it once, maybe listen to the songs you post and then don’t ever think about it again. I’m aware that comes of as pretty ignorant on my part and I’m ok with that perception but there’s no reason for me to come back multiple times and check the latest comments on a review post, I’m either very interested in the artist/album or not very much at all.

    With that said, ever since I’ve discovered this site years ago, it’s been a staple of web browsing habits. Regardless if its a pop-country-bash blog or a review of someone I’ve never heard, I’ll be reading it.

    Now to go eat and get ready for the Kingdom of Survival screening and then Hillstomps final Seattle show before they go on indefinite hiatus.

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    • Jim C, I understand what you are saying and all I can say is perhaps once they finish their meddling with the site, things will be easier to work with on Facebook?

      And Lindsay, I should have read this post prior to responding to Trig. You said what I was trying to say far better than I did. People love drama, conflict, and dissent. I don’t read a lot of the music reviews here because, well, they are simply the opinion based on the taste of the author. If we share similar tastes, cool…then I’ll check out the band. But what interests me the most is controversial topics that get people’s panties all in a bunch.

      Does this make me the SCM incarnation of a Maury Povitch fan? I guess maybe it does. But it sure makes for more interesting reading than a drama free world. The exciting thing about Web 2.0 technologies is the interactive aspect of it. People interact and engage over things they are passionate about…passion brings drama.

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  • P.S. As for Facebook, there would be a lot of shows I wouldn’t have heard about if my friends hadn’t sent me invites. It’s not as as good as Myspace was at its peak but thanks to the power of having friends in my area that are into the same music as me (as well as regularly checking local venues website calendars) I’m kept in the loop as to what’s happening in my neighborhood. It’s not spoon-fed to me but it works.

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    • The problem is now though it is getting more and more difficult to send invites via regionally set-up groups as Facebook has limited access to those groups. For example, years ago I set up individual facebook groups for friends and fans based on the region they live in. I did this because many people would complain about getting invites for Massachusetts shows when they lived in California (and I find that a fair gripe). So basically I created 20 regional groups, and had acceas to all of them when sending invites. Facebook then changed that and gave you access to only 6 groups at a time (that would be fine if they let me pick which 6 – but they picked the groups)…NOW, it is down to 1 group…which is pretty useless. In place of the groups FB gives you random groups they created such as college contacts, hometown contacts, work contacts, etc…the groups you created still exist but you just can’t access them.

      I think getting on a band email list is really the only way to not miss shows/announcements/big news, etc. The key is for the bands not to over use it and use it based on region as well, therefore you are not getting flooded with emails. The site we use, Bandzoogle.com (no, I dont work them), lets you do this in an easy fashion as an email list member can sign up with a general location and therefore can be grouped regionally (or even by city or state)

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    • I travel to see a lot of shows. If Devilyn, Lindsay, Potter, or HBE Fort Wayne post some show I want to see, I’m inclined to schedule a trip to join them in their locale. This isn’t something I’d think of myself by looking at a MySpace page. It is the “social” aspect of seeing what others are planning that ropes me in…

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