Myspace was a lot entry of music lovers into the new social media landscape. For half a decade after its founding in 2003, the site was the world’s most visited social network, and the first popular platform where musicians and stage celebrities build an audience. On Myspace Music, artists can upload tracks, connect with fans, and check out their own brands. Free.
On Myspace, musicians can be weirder and more personal than on an album’s preface or on major label websites. Creating a fun profile was a free growth hack that allowed fans to share an artist’s music with millions of other potential fans. Does it bother you, yes? Drummer Rob Bloomfield has this to say about the band: “The silly name plus the pornographic skirt Lolita hentai avatar we used is the way that thousands of people say, “Does it bother you, yes? Among his 8 best friends.” People from the industry quickly sought to monetize the digital middle finger that the group gave the entire internet.
Myspace knew its platform was career making and breaking. The company developed features to keep the momentum going, but it was the users that really moved things forward. A generation of kids was customizing their profile layouts in HTML and adding a line of code to trigger songs to play automatically. The ability to directly associate a song with your personality has turned into a raging battle of coolness that resulted in incalculably free publicity for artists.
“You’ve had kids that turn into advertisers for you for free,” says Isac Walter, former A&R of Myspace Records. “You just had an editorial side of you that did nothing more than promote the music to get more musicians, more views, and labels were the worst off because they were in a crisis of not selling records.” Myspace was turning DJs into stars popular enough to get record deals, but they still couldn’t solve the problem of how to monetize music outside of touring.
Australian electronic duo Bag Raiders credits most of their early success to the platform: “We did a remix for this band—our friends—Valentinos, and then suddenly the guys from Kitsuné in Paris texted us on Myspace.” Placing it on a Kitsuné mixtape, available for free download online, has been a fast ticket to massive Myspace hype, better bookings, and remixes from other artists on the circuit.
Bag Raiders’ success story was not an anomaly: Uploading songs to Myspace as a form of free promotion quickly became the norm, from bands to DJs to rappers. “I remember a year we were touring in Australia and I would be booking commercials in the real street press. Literally a year later we were selling tours just by telling our Myspace friends about them. It changed so quickly,” says Presets’ Julian Hamilton.
Music critics were naturally losing their ground as the traditional media barriers around embargoes, press releases, and label-produced marketing presentations were being swept away by young bloggers around the world. “rolling rock it didn’t matter anymore because now there is Dirgen. Of course, Pitchfork just happened rolling rockbut for a while it looked exciting and fresh, as if the world was really changing,” says Hamilton.
This brief moment in music history can never be repeated today. For one thing, crispy, MP3-bitrate audio wouldn’t fly now, and neither would write for free after all these years of proliferation of digital content. More importantly, perhaps, is that the lifecycle of a song in a blogging generation is not legally possible. “The only reason the moment happened, and dance music in general has reached the world level is because of the culture of remix and its reinterpretation. “Many of these were out-of-law mashups or unofficial remixes,” says Clayton Blaha, a publicist representing clients including Diplo, Justice, and Fool’s Gold Records.