Is (Still) the Place
is both the bane and the blessing of musicians everywhere.
It’s clunky, it’s ugly, and the flashing banner ads make you
feel like you’ve entered a low-rent carnival midway. Every
time I visit MySpace I feel like I should take a shower afterward
and then run an industrial-grade virus scan on my computer.
And I have a Mac.
If they’ve updated the code that runs MySpace in the past
five years, it sure doesn’t show. The user experience hasn’t
changed at all, which leads to the likelihood that the architecture
probably can’t be changed without blowing up the whole decrepit
mess. So, we’re stuck with it.
There have been plenty of challengers to MySpace’s hegemony
with musicians, sites that no doubt run better, look better,
and do more and better things. But they all seem to plateau
early, then wither and disappear, leaving old crusty MySpace
blinking, bleeping and refusing to die.
But, for all its faults, the damn thing works. Gig info is
easily updatable, music can be put on and taken off in a flash,
photos and videos are easily posted, the search function works
OK—and what else do you really need?
The proof is in the pudding. In the past year, I’ve added
a bunch of musician clients who all have the best shots at
real success of any musicians that I’ve represented in my
20 years (yikes!) as a lawyer. They all came to me with offers
and opportunities already in hand. And they all got “discovered”
Even if they can’t fix their crappy code, MySpace seems to
be doing a spectacular job of customer service (if my experience
this week is any guide). Tuesday morning I got a frantic call
from a band who’d just kicked their drummer out of the group.
Seems they forgot that the drummer had admin privileges for
their MySpace page. So the drummer, after drinking heavily
and no doubt lying to his girlfriend that he’d “quit” the
band, changed the password to the MySpace page and put on
a profile picture of himself smiling demonically, giving the
world the finger.
Funny as it was, the remaining band members were traumatized.
Their main portal to the world had been hijacked.
I’ve had lots of crisis situations like this before where
a disgruntled ex- member takes over a band’s MySpace site.
I’ve seen jilted musicians talk trash about the old band,
remove gig info, and post embarrassing photos. In one case,
a booted lead singer even formed a new band overnight and
posted new photos and band info. It’s not your band, it’s
my band! D’oh!
In the past, I’ve written lawyerly letters to MySpace explaining
the situation, and the few times I’ve gotten any response,
it was usually something about MySpace not wanting to get
involved in inter-band disputes and that I’d have to get a
court order if I wanted the site back. A court order? That
would cost a couple thousand bucks and probably take weeks.
This time was different. I sent off the lawyerly letter, mainly
to placate the band, but with no hope that it would really
accomplish anything. Within an hour I got an e-mail back from
MySpace, telling me to send them “salutes” from each of the
remaining band members. There was a nice explanation that
a “salute” was a photograph the band members holding a handwritten
sign with the MySpace ID on it. They’d check the salutes against
the pictures of the band they already had, and if a majority
of the old band members were represented, we’d get our site
This took my breath away. First was how quick MySpace responded.
I mean, how many of these kinds of complaints do you think
MySpace receives every day from the gazillion bands it hosts?
Thousands? And somebody actually read my e-mail and responded
in an hour. And then the solution: so simple, so elegant,
Moral of the story: Number one, if you’re gonna kick somebody
out of your band, secure your online stuff first. And number
two, for all its faults, MySpace rocks.
Last year a bunch of you attended the Future of Music Coalition’s
seminar on making money making music in Albany. If you want
the super deluxe version, the FOMC’s big Policy Summit will
take place in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4-6. Speakers and panelists
include Sen. Al Franken, Mike Mills of R.E.M., and a ton of
music biz 2.0 heavyweights. I’m honored to tell you that I’ll
be a panelist on the topic of revenue flows for musicians.
The conference is super cheap, especially if you can find
a place to crash in D.C. If you’re serious about making it
in music, you wanna be at this one. Info at futureofmusic.org.