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The Pitfalls of MySpace Publicity

July 20, 2010

Last week, I rejoined Myspace after a 4-year hiatus. Scanning through bands’ profiles, I saw one thing hadn’t changed at all since I left:


And I’m not talking about porn bots, folks. I’m talking about bands. And promoters. And associated ventures. Take a look at the comments on most bands’ profiles and you’ll see a parade of shameless self-promotion:

Times are tough, and I know MySpace = free publicity. But “free” comes at a price. A price that hurts bands and annoys fans.

When users visit a band’s page and see tons of spam comments, they either:

A) instantly ignore the comments

B) think the band has no real fans, or

C) all of the above.

Spam cheapens, if not negates, the value of comments on bands’ pages.

Especially when the spammy nature of comments is so painfully obvious:

If you’re going to spam, at least try to convincingly feign interest in the person’s profile. Otherwise you’re just another band (or music blogger hehe) desperately posting your name in as many places as possible. People will take notice–just not in a good way.

Even worse, friend-adding programs (so you can spam even MORE people!) devalue MySpace friendships altogether.

I saw this firsthand when I worked for an unsigned alt rock band in 2006. I was the communication intern, which meant I was the person who spammed you with 1000 bulletins (sorry about that). I also sent friend requests to every man, woman, and child within a 300 mile radius. We gathered a modest following, but could never keep up with this other local band (who shall not be named).

They-who-shall-not-be-named surpassed 10,000 friends within a matter of weeks. We were completely flabbergasted. And jealous. But it all came crashing down. Word spread that they used a friend-adder program and got their account banned.  Needless to say, these guys were totally embarrassed. They felt pressured to keep up with other auto-adding musicians. But all the friend inflation made it so they needed more and more friends just to get noticed. It’s an infinite spiral of doom.

Pictured: Infinite Spiral of Doom

Here’s the problem:

Artists/Bands/Promoters want to cultivate a healthy flock of fans and customers. But lots of MySpace friends ≠ lots of fans nor customers.

So, how to remedy the situation? Maybe we just need to go back to basics. Promotion is a market. Markets are conversations. And conversations require real relationships, even if they’re just in passing.

Take, for example, Scarlet Grey. After seeing them open for AFI, I wrote a short, supportive note on their Facebook wall. A few days later, Scarlet Grey posted this:

I didn’t believe them. There were hundreds of comments–how could they answer them all?! But a few days later, I got this response:


Granted, it was a variation of what they said to everybody. Granted, it was probably some intern at Moxie Star who copied and pasted for hours. [EDIT: “This is not an intern” -Ben Grey] But it’s still classy as hell. And not gonna lie, that response gave me the fangirl giggles. The point is, engagement that is genuine (or appears to be genuine) is what fans will carry with them and tell their friends about.

That’s how friends turn into fans and paying customers. No spam necessary.

So, if you’re a band/promoter/whatever, weigh in. Refudiate me. What promotion moves do you love/hate? (I’ll even let you post a link to your Myspace).

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