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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Culture

MySpace and the subtlety of promotion

MySpace is a great tool for promoting your music. Unfortunately, everybody else has the same idea.

If you're a musician with a computer and a Web connection, it's a fair bet you've got a MySpace page. The social networking site claims to have its origins in the lower reaches of the L.A. music community (although some writers dispute the official history of the site).

MySpace may be too common to be cool, but it's also too easy to pass up: create a profile, build a list of artists and fans who appreciate your genre and/or live in your location, and advertise your shows and recordings for sale. No longer do you have to pass around a piece of paper to collect e-mail addresses. (I'm actually old enough to remember real mailing lists: we used to collect snail mail addresses at shows and mail people postcards. Expensive, time-consuming, ineffective.)

Of course, as with any new technology (search engines, e-mail), somebody somewhere is going to try and figure out how to game the system for maximum profit. The longer you have a MySpace page, the more invitations you'll get from musicians that have nothing to do with your local scene or interests. The more of those invitations you accept, the more random event invitations and bulletins you'll have to scroll through to find the few items from your real friends that you're really interested in.

Even worse, a few days ago, a Bulletins box showed up in a prominent position on the musician's dashboard, meaning that every time I navigate to my dashboard, I'm bombarded with about 20 messages from "friends" wanting me to come to their show or buy their CD (or their horror novel, or their VHS video). I'm not sure if MySpace did this by default, or if I or another person with access to the page changed some setting.

But here's the good thing: at the bottom of every bulletin, there's a "Delete From Friends" button. If you receive one that's particularly irrelevant or offensive, you're one button click from eliminating that person's ability to communicate with you. This is much easier than scrolling through the Friends list (which is arranged in no order) and trying to find the person who's been annoying you lately.

Meanwhile, be selective about who you admit as a friend. Unless all you care about is raising the number on your Friends counter.