Is The Decline of MySpace Bad for Music?

If you’re like me, you hate MySpace . . . BUT. There is possibly nothing better for checking out bands, staying in tune with what your favorite bands are doing, and finding whatever information you desire about a band. It is all right there: a media player with sample songs, tour dates, band members, influences, videos and pictures. And though traditional websites might have some of these elements, or even all of them, you have to dig around to find them in an unfamiliar format.

At its core, MySpace is something that I probably wouldn’t want to have anything to do with. It has all the unsavory trappings of a virtual high school. The first time I heard about MySpace was from a local band. At the time I was writing a music article for a local magazine, and they told me to go there to check their music out. Low and behold, I found that virtually all the local bands had MySpace sites, with all the info I needed to stay current.

I saw that there were “personal” MySpace sites as well, but I thought this was just a way for bands to network with their fans, and fans to network with other fans. I was on the West Coast at the time; the front line of the initial MySpace launch. It wasn’t until months later that you heard all the hype about it, how it was growing in leaps and bounds as “social networking.”

Simply put, MySpace puts a lot of power back in the hands of the bands, and out of the hands of media and big music companies. Bands that didn’t have the fundage or knowledge to set up their own websites, could now do it easily, and for free. Sure, that meant a lot of music that was best left in basements and garages was now out to terrorize the world, but countless bands were able to makes huge strides for their music through MySpace.

Then MySpace launched “MySpace Music” a venture with record labels and I had high hopes for this. The idea was to rival iTunes, and incorporate MySpace’s social capabilities. But the results have been mixed at best, even though “MySpace Music” has been signing artists, releasing records and videos, and putting on tours.

And if you’re questioning whether MySpace is in decline or not, don’t be so naive. It’s ultimate demise might be overstated, but the truth is the site’s overall page views and the time spent on the site is in decline. In June MySpace laid off 425 employees. Most of this is the fault of Facebook and Twitter, and though those sites do offer some opportunities for bands to help spread the word, they are not nearly as broad based.

Some people are saying that MySpace will be the next “Friendster” or “America Online,” and completely dissolve, but I have trouble seeing that. When you ask Mr. Google about a band, you are just as likely to pull up their MySpace site first, in lieu of their website. Facebook a lot of times doesn’t show up at all, and again, some bands and artists don’t even have websites.

MySpace deserves what it has coming to them. With multiple glitches, a poor yet improving interface, and a ton of spam that ran a whole legion of people off the site before MySpace got it under control, MySpace itself, and not just some mob mentality of “what is popular” is responsible for this pickle. The reason that I continue to use MySpace and simulcast my articles there, because even though the website gets more traffic, I will only get 2 or so comments on posts, compared to 20-50 on MySpace.

So I want to know what you think. When you go to check out a band, do you use their MySpace site or their website? Do you think MySpace will go extinct, or just hit a rough patch. And if MySpace decline to obscurity or disappears totally, will this be bad for music?

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