Terrence Dixon: Tales of an Accelerated Future
New MySpace is taking great pains to make it clear that it is a place for music; every detail, from the spinning record that takes up the homepage to the blatant shout-out to musicians in the blurb, makes it clear that MySpace, under the leadership of Justin Timberlake, is sticking to its reputation as a great place for music to be unearthed and shared.
As garish or difficult to use as it is often accused of being now, the MySpace of roughly 2006 – 2009 was a utopia for new music, as bands had complete control over how and when they released tracks, the level of intimate chatter they could have with fans, and what colour font they wrote their “About Me” in. It rapidly became the easiest way for musicians to build followings, and for those of us who were in those followings, it created a strange, HTML-encoded nostalgia that means we associate some of our most cherished musical discoveries and identifications with a screen full of flashing GIFs and sycophantic, fan-written comments. Read on to discover our ten most fondly remembered MySpaces from this distant pre-tweet era.
At a time when skinny jeans and funky hair were trendy, The Teenagers, whose eccentricity and explicit lyrics were their selling point, naturally stood out. Remember Homecoming? It was the theme tune to my first year of university. It’s simple, straight-forward and catchy, and that’s why it grabs attention so easily. The soft porn-y background pictures of their Myspace website also go together with the idea of MP3s and pictures of half naked pretty girls, an idea championed by the now-defunct Fluokids blog. [KKYC]
The three members of that astounding band that defined those years into typographic abyss curated their comments section, so it was stuffed entirely of pagan, surgical and wasteland GIFs left by fans, laid over a stark white background. This one late night in winter 2008, I literally scared myself silly staring at this page with their appallingly beautiful noise surging through my headphones. It was a weird time in my life, granted, but a pretty incredible way of using the internet for visceral reaction. [CRJ]
Full of occult mysticism, obscure references, garish collages and a lot of dumb humour, Klaxons’ Myspace page was a perfect piece of art that was imitated by pretty much every dayglo-leaning band of the excellently inventive, oft-mocked new rave era. [SB]
The low quality demo mp3 was the way of hearing bands from the Myspace age, as songs ripped using sites such as myspacegrab or file2hd came in a horrendous quality as standard. My demo of Late Of The Pier’s 7beat will only ever exist as a 96kbps mp3 – it’s the digital equivalent of vinyl crackle. [SB]
Now stripped back to a static player, at its 2008 height / nadir, Autechre’s page operated with moving comments section, multiple players and a background that repeated itself ad nasuem. Open only to those willing to shift brain patterns to its inner logic, it was a pretty fluent translation of the band’s music into the digital realm. [CRJ]
M.I.A. once posted a blog on MySpace called “HAPPY NU EARS”, which consisted entirely of the words: “HOPE YOU GET SOME…AND CLEAN OUT THE OLD SOUNDS THAT’S SWIMIN BETWEEN EM”. This kind of outburst, combined with the general sensory abuse that formed her profile, made her one of the most immediately personable, silly and outspoken presences on MySpace. [AC]
With MySpace, bands could completely reinvent themselves in a second. All you had to do was change your layout and delete some pictures. RAT:ATT:AGG, an inferior post-Test Icicles project, sold CDs and t-shirts bearing their name but one day decided to change it to ‘Wrists’. They updated all of their artwork to correspond with this before breaking up completely about a week later. [SB]
The thing with Myspace is that it’s similar to Youtube in present days. You spend all day on the site browsing what people’s favourite bands are; you also get a chance to listen to (usually lo-quality) MP3s for free. Most of the time they’re not that impressive. But sometimes you do get lucky, and will discover an amazing band, like Friendly Fires. I discovered Friendly Fires through MySpace back then, they didn’t even have a profile picture at the time. Mysterious. I even went to Paris for their gig, just so I could hear Paris live. [KKYC]
An example of how to use Myspace’s current configuration well, with only the essential info – Soundcloud players, Vimeos, mercy inks, tour info and – of course – friend count. Personally, I still miss the obligatory spam rappers sounding off automatically in the comments section, which this page’s functionality doesn’t allow. That aside, it’s tasteful, it works, it represents him well, and it shows what MySpace could perhaps have been, or will be. [CRJ]
To include Lil B in this list is to stretch the rules a little bit – after all, the prolific Bay Area rapper didn’t have one MySpace page, but over a hundred and fifty. With an artist who aimed for sheer volume, uploading thousands of tracks in a year, one simple, limited page was not enough. For many MySpace musicians, by 2010 it had become cool to strip back on the features the site offered, using minimalist design (or as minimalist as MySpace would allow), a handful of demos and hidden friends and comments. Lil B reacted against any such trend, flooding MySpace with as much content as he liked with little regard for quality control or for his audience. The Based God never so much made himself into a brand as he made himself overwhelmingly unavoidable, a presence that constantly loomed intimidatingly large on the increasingly twee MySpace landscape. [AC]