One of my MySpace friends just asked me why I think MySpace sucks. I always thought that it was something that is self-evident and obvious, but the comment made me wonder if I should be clearer about what exactly it is that I don’t like about MySpace.
I guess the reason I don’t like it is for a number of reasons:
1. It isn’t WordPress.
This was the first reason I never really blogged on MySpace, because, well, I have been blogging for 10 years. I originally made manual html diary pages, moved to Blogger and then to WordPress. And I have no inclination to change it because WordPress is, well, fantastic.
Why on earth would I step backwards onto MySpace when I already run my own blog on my own domain? These things are not terribly difficult to set up, and, if you have a few bucks to pay a designer (like me), you can have a very cheap solution with your own branding that is much more flexible and has more income potential.
2. It is a programmatic dog’s breakfast
Not only is MySpace “down” more than it should be, the proprietary CSS & mishmashed programming is a nightmare.
The lengths I had to go to just to customise my MySpace to look even moderately tasteful was a whole lot more effort and time than I would EVER spend on a site. You’re just lucky I was bored one day and I need to network.
I am motivated to redesign my MySpace because it is a front for my business and I am a developer. I know what I am doing and it made me want to stab my eyes out with the nearest blunt object. Several times.
3. The interface is counter-intuitive and annoying
In terms of an interface design, it is, well, nothing short of frustrating. Of course, intuitive design and navigation is something that is subjective, but nothing fills me with rage more than skinning a MySpace profile.
All it takes is for one person’s giant glitter graphic to totally screw up your layout. And in an already frustrating navigation, and the often-ridiculously-overcustomised profiles, it very quickly becomes a web user’s brain kryptonite.
4. MySpace is full of Emos and famewhores.
Well, that kinda speaks for itself.
5. Even when a musician or artist has thousands of friends, nobody ever buys anything or even clicks.
It does make me wonder exactly what the point of MySpace is, when I receive so many automated “Add Me” requests and spam comments. Even for the musicians profiles that I have done and added affiliate links or whatever, nobody ever clicks anything.
My position on MySpace for musicians is “don’t bother”. Sure, put a veneer up with some music and pictures, but you can have a much better web presence by putting a blog up on your OWN site, with your OWN online mp3 store, and your OWN blog, with fans that will make the effort to visit you.
Whats more, there is no way of tracking your visitors, which, in web marketing, is a crucial part of getting maximum exposure to the maximum number of people.
6. Bulletins are ridiculously overused and abused.
I think that Bulletins should be a premium service that is used purely for broadcasting newsletter-type things, NOT memes about your top 10 favourite types of zip lock bags and to OMG-FORWARD-IT-ON-TO-EVERYONE-OR-YOULLDIE!!!1111!!!.
ITS CALLED A BLOG, PEOPLE! That’s why it’s there. The Bulletin should be used with discretion.
7. As long as MySpace exists, artists will not be empowered or truly embracing the internet.
I know that it is tempting to call MySpace a revolution for musicians. I actually don’t believe that it is. Besides the massive audience that MySpace attracts (and yes, in marketing speak, sure, its attractive for artists), there really isn’t much that MySpace can do that is any different to anything else.
There will always be a difference between the fly-by-night fans and your core audience. I believe that MySpace does nothing but encourage people to collect the former.
What musicians need, for income, is loyal fans that will buy their stuff, or pay a subscription for extra privileges.
Investing a couple of thousand bucks in a decent online community will get you further in the long run than MySpace ever will, because the MySpace folks are all about getting themselves exposed and are all about viral marketing.
Sure, it can work, and I am not saying that MySpace is necessarily *bad*, but at the same time, I think artists need to focus less on it and put their energies where it should be — on the communities they HAVE rather than the communities they seek.
All of these ideas are a part of the whole LinkArtist approach to creating a musicians online presence, and it varies from person to person, artist to artist.
8. Stupid Glitter graphics & bots.
Again, something that is obvious. They are annoying as hell.
9. MySpace originally reserved the right to use your content.
The Billy Bragg fiasco has gone some way to remedy this, but there is something to be said about Intellectual Property rights whenever you use a proprietary means of publishing on the web.
For a musician, all they have is their music. For a writer, all they have is their written work. And, for an individual (even though it may seem that people are willing to sign away anything in the name of fame these days), all you have is your public image.
I know that MySpace did go some way to remedy the situation, and this is from last year, but still, you should ALWAYS BE AWARE of what you are agreeing to on these sites:
“By displaying or publishing (”posting”) any Content, messages, text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, profiles, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) on or through the Services, you hereby grant to MySpace.com, a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on and through the Services.”
This means that MySpace could use ANY part of your profile in any capacity, without having to compensate you.
There is nothing inherently wrong with MySpace as an idea, or even as a tool on the web. But I do hope that I can encourage artists to break as free from MySpace as possible and spend a few bucks to get it set up right the first time.
It is a necessary evil of sorts, heck, I have a profile and network with it. But at least be aware that there are alternatives that make for a much more positive environment to interact and promote yourself or your business.