MySpace can be more than a little soul-sucking: I've seen it consume lives, World of Warcraft-style. But as nefarious as it can be, it has undeniable upsides. Foremost, it's a wellspring of untapped talent and I'm not talking about trolling for trollops (although, come to think of it, some of my more scandalous homeboys would probably never get laid if it weren't for MySpace). There's an infinite amount of mind-blowing music just waiting to be found.
Of course, there's also no filter. To find the good stuff, you have to sort through endless streams of shit, most of which could test the gag reflexes of a Roto-Rooter man. Nonetheless, the baby is worth the labor. Hell, that's how I found many of the acts who've blown my skirt up this year.
Ultimately, as loath as I was to join the cult, I have to admit that MySpace has revolutionized the way I experience music. In the past, I'd go to shows blindly, not knowing what to expect or how I'd react; these days, I know exactly what I'm in for, having had the chance to familiarize myself with the music and the story long before I ever take it in live. The best part is that I've even been able to witness the songwriting process unfold organically and hear the music progress in real time, with artists blogging and posting their material in its working stages. Because of how turnkey the whole thing is, anyone can establish a page and post his innermost thoughts instantaneously, for better or worse, without needing to have some high-priced web designer on retainer. As a result, an entirely new level of intimacy has been forged with the listener.
And that's the cool thing about MySpace: I've had the chance to become invested in the artists, the music and their stories, to become a bona fide fan before I've even seen some of them live. That was the case with the Brotherhood of Dae Han. When I first heard the group's songs through my $10 computer speakers, I about spit out my dentures. I couldn't believe that I hadn't seen them yet or heard anyone talking about them. If the songs sounded that good on those cheap speakers, I could only imagine how great they would sound live or on a real stereo.
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More recently, I had a similar experience with the Widowers, an outfit that I'm completely smitten with at the moment but that has yet to play a single show. At the urging of one of my buddies, I checked out their page. I was stunned by what I heard: intricately crafted, densely layered psych-pop. Imagine Dungen, only with words that are sung in English, that you can actually understand and sing along to.
For every upside, though, invariably there's a downside. In this case, I fear that MySpace might be killing off the underground. There are no closely guarded secrets anymore. The very thing that draws me to MySpace could be taking away from the music's mystique. In the past, bands like the Brotherhood of Dae Han or the Widowers might've been enjoyed by an isolated group of acolytes before reaching critical mass; now the bands arrive fully formed, with a fan base that grows exponentially with each show. But people get burned out just as quickly and move on to the next thing. It's a vicious cycle.
Fortunately, the good stuff sticks. At least it has for me. As voracious as my appetite is for new music, I keep coming back to the ones who have moved me. And that list just keeps getting longer and longer.
Uh-huh. More friend requests.