concerning musicians online, nothing has changed
There are some things that will probably never change. One of them is how most musicians act online when it comes to a web presence.
Here's how band web sites have changed from then to now:
1996-1998: Geocities page, guestbook. Yes, I know Geocities technically started in 1994, but nobody really started using internet until '96 - myself included.
1999-2001: MP3.com web page in addition to the Geocities page/guestbook. I still miss the way MP3.com used to be because it was awesome.
2002-2004: Web site (only because there wasn't anything else around at the time.)
2005-2008: MySpace - who by the way is now refocusing to concentrate on being an entertainment (read: musicians) web site. Good move on their part.
2009-present: Facebook fan page.
When you look at what's been available for the past 14 years, the same thing keeps getting reincarnated over and over again; a web presence to promote the band's existence with some type of comment board. The only difference between then and now is that bands can host audio and video whereas before they couldn't because it wasn't free - and that's it.
What hasn't changed?
You could waffle about "social" crapola making a difference, but it didn't. Social networks didn't do anything better than MP3.com pages did and in many ways did it worse. What made the difference in popularity of any band wasn't the platform but rather because there were a crapload more people online in 2005 to present compared to 2001. MySpace in essence was MP3.com 2.0, and Facebook v3.0.
You'd think that after all the time that musicians would have evolved somewhat in the way they conduct themselves, but.. nah. Same ol' crap, different year.
A small example I encountered today that prompted me to write what you're reading now:
Four dudes get together and make a band which we'll call Foo.
Foo has never played a show. Ever. However they do go ahead and put together a web presence because it doesn't cost anything.
On Foo's web presence there are a few crappy recordings they've made, which as far as they're concerned makes them "a real band," yet they still have not played a single show.
Foo goes out and takes stupid photos they think look "cool." Photos will consist of all crappy shots that all crappy bands take, which will be any of the following:
- Woods - because leaves and trees totally say you're a rocker, except they don't.
- Cemetery - because gravestones show just how badass you are, except you're not.
- Under a bridge - especially if it has graffiti there.
- Abandoned building - because showing where crackheads go to make deals is just that awesome.. wait a sec.. no it isn't.
- Leaning against a wall - with bonus dork points awarded for anyone that lifts his foot and puts it against the wall while standing.
- Leaning on a rail - because the rail looks cooler than you do. Go rail!
Okay, so now Foo has a bunch of crappy photos - none of which actually show them PLAYING INSTRUMENTS - and post to their crappy web presence.
Foo has a nice raging web boner goin' on at this point and starts posting updates to the web presence. They state they're going to be playing out "soon," even though they don't even have three songs completed yet.
Days go by. Then weeks. Then months. During this time some "demo" songs may be placed on Foo's web presence - but still no shows.
Around the 4-to-6 month mark, something happens. The band has a "falling out." Someone in Foo gets upset at someone else, then everything falls apart. The band is now broken up. Each band member viciously wants to hold on to "their songs" that they think is great but in reality is nothing but garbage that nobody will ever hear. Every crappy song that Foo had online is suddenly taken offline - never to be heard again.
Whoever is in charge of Foo's web presence at the end of it all will either let it sit and rot, delete it completely, or state the band is in "hiatus."
The "hiatus" is the funniest of the lot because the guy running the web presence sincerely believes he will be able to put another band back together using the same name and keep the fan base. The problem with this is that there is no fan base. Girlfriends of the band DO NOT COUNT as fans. Put another way, if you know every single one of your fans personally, nobody cares about your music.
Ever hear of a PROMOTER?
I swear, bands go into 100% stupid mode because out of all the dopey crap they do, they never once think of hiring a promoter which would help them out immensely. I mean, geez, you can flip over 100 bucks to any douche bag on Craigslist and get the job done. Post an ad saying you need two good shows for your type of music that put you in front of at least 50 people. Once the gigs are confirmed, you pay the 100. Yes, the crowds are small, but this is a starting point, and is totally worth the 100 bucks. It's cash well spent if you want to be a performing act. Once you get a steady stream of shows you can ditch the promoter (you'll know the club owners personally by that point) and start making cash afterward. Or if your promoter douche bag is doing a good job, turns out not to be a douche and you're making a few bucks even with his cost involved, then by all means, don't break up a winning formula.
If you don't want to pony up the 100, visit the local clubs and get your own gigs. It's not rocket science, guys.