Okay so we all know the internet has the potential to bring people together.
This huge global electronic canopy that makes short work of the world’s distances, and allows the relatively smooth passage of contact and communication across the global divide. We all know about the joys of the instant message, email and message boards and a hundred and one different places where people can get together and chat, flirt or even exchange elements of personal creativity.
However there’s a comparatively new kid on the block that encompasses all of these factors and it’s a growing concern that seems to be attracting new users especially those with something creative to offer at an incredible rate.
What I’m talking about is myspace.com. Personally speaking this is a relatively recent discovery but one I’m not alone in making. With an alleged user base of twenty million people world wide this is something that is attracting a series of diverse communities from the idle fanboy, the unsigned musician and to some degree even the established artist.
myspace.com has become worthy of column attention in recent times not just because of its rapidly increasing membership but due to the fact that it was recently purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation which gives you the first inkling that this is no fly by night site that will fall off the radar like many of its forebears.
Signing up to the service is free and a familiar process to anyone who has signed up for any web based services in the past. You create a user profile, write a short biography of yourself and for best results upload a photograph. If you’re there to promote your own material there is the facility to upload your music or incorporate your own artwork into your page. The user interface isn’t always the easiest to get along with (it’s a little on the clunky side) but basic HTML skills are enough to enable some degree of customisation to what becomes known as your “profile”.
From that point on you can visit other pages and check out other people’s work here is where the interaction really begins. You can apply to become a “friend” of another user. It’s through this process that your small groups of associates begin to expand (for example a few of my friends were already members so I found myself with a starting point for networking). It’s as these smaller groups start to overlap with each that you find your lists start to expand.
It’s not just the unsigned that exist in the world of myspace either, some familiar faces do crop up on the service for example Bjork, Kelly Osbourne and if you’re that way inclined the likes of My Chemical Romance for starters. Of course there are a few individuals masquerading as celebrities such as the entries for Les Dennis, and Bruce Forsythe who represent a humorous take on the…ahem…celebrity evergreens and C list types.
The site supports the usual glut of “meet and greet” features that have become commonplace on the web. Obvious factors such as emailing other users and an instant messenger are nothing new, musicians can also list upcoming gigs or releases and keep their fanbase up to date with their progress. In terms of music the user can upload up to four tracks which are loaded and played whenever someone accesses your page. There’s also an automated tracking feature which tells you how many times your tunes have been played or downloaded. The site has also taken steps to promote itself via the presence of actual CD releases. This takes the form of its first compilation album comprising a mixture of known commodities and unsigned artists (Weezer, Dashboard Confessional being two examples).
So in essence what you’ve got is a site that does offer a considerable amount for no charge. However whenever you find a service of this nature which attracts such a large audience there are going to problems for the user. It could be said that the service is somewhat oversubscribed (did I mention that there is twenty million users so far with a number that is increasing daily). This can lead to accessibility problems and delays in accessing parts of the site.
However in conclusion it will be interesting to see how this site develops under its new ownership. There have been some concerns that with News International at the helm there is a strong possibility that the site may eventually become a service requiring payment to use. However for now it does represent an interesting prospect for the creative individual and the casual browser alike. The fact that myspace has just launched itself as a record label also serves to show it may be an indication of how creative expression may be distributed in the future.
It could very well be a case of watch myspace.