Sunday, 28 November 2010

Is Myspace’s vice-like grip on new music beginning to loosen?

The social benefits of Myspace died a long time ago when it became a hellhole of 12 years olds, people trying to sell you Macy’s handbags and fictional sexy ladies wanting to be your friend. But for most bands it’s still a compulsory requirement, like saying you’re influenced by The Velvet Underground or saying "We've all got really really eclectic music tastes". But Myspace is fading out, with some bands making the ballsy decision to forgo a page all together.

Never underestimate the connection between listener and band when said band has been discovered by chance. Cardiff-based band Islet understand this and so they shun Myspace. This is to try and generate a word of mouth following through the people who have seen them live. At their earlier gigs most audience members would be totally unaware of what they were going to hear, unable to find out what the band sounded like through Myspace. The thinking went that if they enjoyed the music, then they’d like it even more because it’d be a surprise to them. The method seems to have worked, with Islet attracting a fair amount of attention on the internet by virtue of the fact they weren’t trying to in the first place.

 Anyway, Myspace isn’t always a bands top friend. For one, it makes it too easy for people to formulate an opinion on the music before they’ve seen the band in real life. Alex from Islet explains the bonuses of surprise-tactics, “I think it’s a problem nowadays that we get to react to stuff in our own time. I think it’s good when someone shoves something in your face and says, ‘what are you gonna do?’ If not having a Myspace can make a couple of people feel that spark at a gig and think, ‘God, I had no idea about this’ then it’s worth it.”

Islet now have their own website where they occasionally host their songs. What’s the difference between this and having a Myspace? Well, the uniformity of the latter gives a sense of duplicity between bands that most would be keen to avoid. Full control over how many songs are shared and the layout of the site gives a band like Islet a streak of individuality that would be completely lacking on Myspace.

Hopefully we’ll see more bands reverting back to feverish gigging rather than Myspace plugging as the main way to develop a following. Rejoice! It’s no coincidence that the rise of Myspace and the invention of the term ‘landfill indie’ have happened at the same time. The best and most imaginative music comes from bands that’ve worked tirelessly on the road rather than on their Myspace page. You want proof? Listen to Islet.

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