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My band just started playing about three months ago, and everyone keeps bugging us about if we have a MySpace page (we don’t). Do you think that MySpace is a help or a hindrance to new groups? Does it create unreasonable demands on musicians? Hell, all we want to do is play shows and eventually record!—Patrick Kigongo, Petworth
Any of the free social-networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, etc.) will give you exposure. I use MySpace both as a fan and an artist. If I hear about a new band, I’ll go to newband.com or myspace.com/newband for more information. To me, the key is to view the social network sites as a free conduit to your official site. Once you get people to your own site, you begin to create direct relationships with fans. Encourage people to sign up for your mailing list and offer free or unique content as fair trade for their e-mail addresses.
I maintain my own MySpace page; it takes me less than five minutes each day to keep it current. Big help. No hindrance at all. Promotion is very important; if you want people to come to your shows, you have to let them know the when and where—and this is a free way to do so. Unreasonable demands? I don’t see any.
There was a moment, maybe a year ago, when the prevailing music industry thought that if a band has 400,000 friends, maybe someone should investigate and possibly sign them. I never bought into that mentality; anyone can spend all day and night spamming and inviting people to be their MySpace friends. When like-minded artists actually endorse one another, you begin to create your own community. As long as I’ve been involved in music, that’s been the idea.