What Radio Station Is The Bears Football Game On Social Networking and Music: MySpace Puts It All Together in a Virtual Community

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Social Networking and Music: MySpace Puts It All Together in a Virtual Community

Today’s music lover interacts with a “community” far larger than anyone could have ever dreamed possible before the widespread personal use of the Internet. This social networking is changing the way people market and sell music on a global scale.

Here’s how:

One fan hears the song and “talks” to a dozen others online. Each, in turn, sends the information (and sometimes the entire song file) to a dozen more people, and so on. If the song’s hook is catchy and universal enough, an artist can reach thousands of fans in seconds. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s free and it’s global.

Does this viral communication generate any income for that artist (or songwriter, or publisher, or manager, or agent, or distributor, or label)? Not. But does it provide vital publicity that has the potential to sell singles, albums, concert tickets and merchandise? Absolutely.

New means of marketing:

This is a quantum change in marketing. It provides the ability to bypass standard distribution, while severely restricting the barely legal forms of radio “promotion” that many in the industry openly call payola or extortion of commercial stations.

All this is possible thanks to the increasing number of online forms of communication, including music sites, web portals, blogs (weblogs), music forums and more. A new site called MySpace.com has brought all these elements together in one place. And because of their vision, MySpace becomes an informational destination for bands, fans, filmmakers, writers, artists, record industry professionals and more.

The MySpace Nation: “Where do you live?” used to be a question spoken aloud; it is now typed. The answer to that question used to simply indicate what part of town you were from, with an accompanying suggestion of your socio-economic status and a hint as to which mall might be your usual hangout; now it applies not only to your city, but also to your state, region or country.

Your virtual “scene” can include people anywhere in the world. My virtual community starts in Los Angeles and extends to Moscow, the Big Dipper, Amsterdam, San Francisco, London, New York, Miami, and a few places I haven’t learned to write properly yet. In fact, thanks to social networks like MySpace, you can interact with several scenes. People who like my goth songs overlap a bit with the rave-trance songs on my remix album, but they don’t care about the music I make for radio and television commercials (in fact they can despise it). But every social network welcomes news of new music in their favorite styles.

MySpace: The future is now

With two million members (and growing), MySpace.com offers a multi-level entertainment experience that includes blogs, instant messaging, classified ads, peer voting, special interest groups, user forums, and user-generated content. Is it popular? You bet: they have statistics showing that the site gets 35 million views per day with an average of one hour online per visit. So far, all of MySpace’s services are free, and the site is fully supported by advertisers eager to reach the young, good web and music fans on the web that MySpace.com attracts.

Created by Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, MySpace is already successful on a level that has surprised many industry observers. While the main MySpace site is geared toward pure social networking, a section of the site called MySpace Music is a revolutionary way to reach their built-in web audience of two million online users, and has the potential to quickly expand beyond that already impressive number. As a launch vehicle for unsigned and new recording artists, MySpace Music is a great tool.

In the thoughts of the creators of MySpace:

“MySpace Music is what MP3.com should have been, but never was,” said Anderson. “Very few people go to a website looking for bands they’ve never heard of. MySpace Music lets people find music online the same way they find out about music in person: through their friends. Millions of friends come to MySpace to hang out, and through that process—word of mouth and referrals from friends—bands are exposed to new fans, and fans to new music.”

DeWolfe continues, “The most exciting use of MySpace Music is the way it changes the dynamic from band to fan.” A band can go on MySpace and find potential fans all over the country just by sending an email and saying ‘Hi. ‘ Bands develop a following and find street teams online.”

Offering downloads, band websites and the ability to connect directly with artists is just part of the appeal of MySpace Music. Each site visitor can also participate through user testimonials and ratings. Artists can also access a wide range of music business contacts.

Details from DeWolfe:

G-Man: What is the history of MySpace?

Chris DeWolfe: We launched the general MySpace site in September 2003. Our vision was to create a portal where our users could mobilize and connect around common interests – be it music, television, dating, nightlife, politics, religion or anything else else.

G-Man: How does music fit into the MySpace network?

Chris DeWolfe: Almost from the day we launched, music has become one of the primary interests of MySpace users. We believe that most people hear and try new music based on recommendations from friends. The network influence of our site (friends tell friends), allows new trends and music to spread very quickly. At the same time, bands started flocking to MySpace as a mechanism to promote themselves, find new fans, book shows, and even secure label deals.

G-Man: What are the revenue streams for MySpace?

Chris DeWolfe: MySpace currently supports online advertising and sponsorship. We may add premium services later, but all the services we currently offer for free will remain so. We have been fortunate to secure top advertisers such as Sony Music, Interscope, Warner Music, Dreamworks, Napster and more. The promotion works for these types of advertisers because most of our users are modern influencers aged 18-34 who love music and often go to the movies on opening weekend.

G-Man: What are the benefits for artists using MySpace?

Chris DeWolfe: Artists can sell their CDs on our site. The primary use so far has been for bands to mobilize new fans they wouldn’t normally meet. A band from Iowa can quickly gain a following in New York or Los Angeles. In addition, bands use the site to book tours and fill venues. The MySpace social network is international. Because MySpace is an online network, it makes geographic boundaries less relevant.

G-Man: Can you compare the MySpace entity to other online sites?

Chris DeWolfe: Most sites are narrowly focused on business networking, classified ads, or dating. MySpace is a portal that uses the infrastructure of social networks. MySpace includes games, blogs, music, classifieds, forums, mail, instant messages, and user ratings. Our model resulted in an incredibly sticky page where the average user spends more than an hour per session on the site. We’ve also had more pageviews than our biggest competitor in the last three months.

MySpace only extends functionality around existing mass behavior. Most, if not all, other sites didn’t have or don’t have that luxury — they counted on behavior to evolve around functionality. In other words, we’re not building it, hoping people will come. People are already on the site sharing information about the bands; bands are already recruiting fans and local support; users are already looking for music downloads; they already rank and rate music; they’re already showing up at our parties to hear the music they’ve been learning about on MySpace. MySpace Music works because two million people are already doing what we’re making it easy for them to do.

G-Man: What marketing arenas are included (or plan to be included) in MySpace?

Chris DeWolfe: Two of our bigger marketing partners are Warped Tour and Rock The Vote. Specifically, Warped Tour is a great fit for us. We’re sponsoring the Uproar Stage and bands from MySpace will be playing Warped Tour locations. This partnership offers great exposure for MySpace Music and participating MySpace Music bands.

Rock the Vote is also a great partner because it fits our mission of enabling our users to mobilize around common interests. MySpace users can register to vote directly from our home page. We will also participate in several of their music shows.

MySpace Phenomenon on the rise:

Strategic partnerships develop almost as quickly as bands meet fans on the site. Los Angeles Music Network (www.lamn.com) will bring its membership base and marketing strength to a partnership arrangement with MySpace.

Connecting listeners, reaching across borders and uniting musicians with fans and industry professionals, MySpace Nation is a phenomenon. Since the passport is free, everyone in music marketing better pay a visit. It is located at http://www.mispace.com. See you there.

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