Thursday, June 30, 2011

RIP MySpace?

In 2005, my career as an independent recording artist/entertainer/emcee completely changed. It was due to the creation and emergence of a website that I’d never heard of. Only in my dreams had I envisioned something so wonderful could happen. It all started on a chill day in the first quarter of ’05. I was over Tasherre D’Enajetic’s apartment, as we were working on a song called “Mutiny”. It featured Term, Asylum 7, Metasyons and Finale, along with me and Tasherre, and DJ Primeminister on cuts and production. The homie Zo! was present, as well, as he was there for moral support and random shit talking (sometimes you need that element, too). After we went over the song a few times, Tasherre turned on his computer and logs into something called MySpace. I’d never heard of this site before. He already had his own page, music on there, people leaving favorable comments… and a really pretty girl with really large breasts. After seeing all of that, I decided I needed a page, ASAP! As he continued through his page, I saw several people I recognized. But that’s not what got my attention. What got my attention is seeing several people I DIDN’T recognize. I had to ask… “I want a page. What’s the catch”? He said, “None. Its free”. At that point, I wanted to start slam dancing like I was at an Onyx/Wu-Tang/Nirvana concert. I decided against that when I saw how close I was to his apartment window. Days later, I finally had my own page and wasted little time reaching out to people. Once I had music on there, I was ready to go. Instead of doing the normal routine of becoming friends with as many people from Detroit as I could, I looked for people in places like Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Maine. Then I thought… LET’S LOOK OVERSEAS! I reached out to people in Norway, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, etc… it was easier than I thought. I couldn’t believe how many people loved Detroit music. MySpace provided me with an opportunity I NEVER had. I was able to get my music out to thousands of people worldwide without even hitting a button. There was an option to leave your music available for free download so I did that. Some mornings I’d wake up and see that I’d have thousands of plays and numerous downloads. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t getting paid for it. This was free promotion. And the way I looked at it, if people were so positive to receive something for free, they’d be more than willing to return the favor and buy some material later. The site also opened the door for me to communicate with artists I’ve admired for years and hope to one day record or do a show with. It even gave me the opportunity to make money, as I met several artists that wanted to compensate me for work and several promoters that wanted to book me for shows out of town. ME? I was truly honored. As the years went by, MySpace began to lose much of its popularity, as many similar sites that were organized better began to emerge. The site was purchased by billionaire Rupert Murdoch for $580 million and many changes took place. Several people tried to get me to “convert” to the other sites. I was totally against it because I was still making money so it didn’t make a difference to me. I wasn’t happy with the changes but I was still able to reach a large amount of people simultaneously. But after awhile, those changes were starting to affect my business. The option to download an artist’s music was no longer available (thank Jay-Z for that one) and the site was beginning to venture away from the importance of the independent artist. More mainstream artists were beginning to receive the attention, pretty much pushing out cats like me out the door. I VERY reluctantly moved to Facebook in 2009, almost kicking and screaming. I’d check the MySpace page every now and then, trying to recapture memories of recent past. Now I check it maybe once or twice a month… which is once or twice more a month more than nearly everyone I know! Sad. But surprisingly, megastar Justin Timberlake joined forces with Specific Media recently, as they purchased the site for $35 million (it was initially stated the site wouldn’t be sold for less than $100 million). Timberlake is reportedly extremely excited about this opportunity, as he shares the vision Specific Media has to help other artists and allow people a chance to express themselves. However, that’s an extremely broad vision. I’d like to see what specific goals they have for the site. One thing’s for sure, many people will now be out of work, as nearly half of the 400 staffers will be let go. Perhaps this is a sign of simplifying things again and making the most out of its resources. But if MySpace does not go back to the approach of helping out the independent artist, the decline will continue, even with a figure like Justin Timberlake watching closely. Stay tuned…

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