Social networking sites create new opportunities for up-and-coming musicians

by John DiBattista
The music industry has undergone an incredible revolution in the last decade due to social networking sites. Facebook and Myspace not only allow us to share music: they have also helped the bands we love get their start.
Only a few years ago bands paid for studio time to create CDs of their music, which they sent to recording-company executives or radio-station programmers in hopes of being discovered. Now, the Internet allows bands to completely overstep this process by uploading their recordings to social networking sites where listeners can sample the music and purchase it directly from the musicians.
Facebook, launched in 2004, is following the trend of MySpace with its own music platform that began this year. Facebook Music allows bands to upload music, which can then be downloaded. Independent artists may also sell their music on Spotify, Facebook’s new streaming program, with 15 million uploaded songs as of July and two million users as of September. Bands’ pages can be “liked” similar to friends’ profiles, allowing fans to follow a band’s activity and check updated tour dates.
“We used Facebook to get the word out about our performances. But for strangers, we set up our MySpace for them to sample our music,” said Hollis Wang, class of ’10, saxophonist for the band Outnumbered, which advanced to the finals of the Jersey Shows’ Battle of the Bands.
The variety of Facebook Music gives bands the potential to acquire gigs and success in creative ways. “Facebook has played a huge role in Gatsby’s recent success. When the band Harvard announced that they were going on tour, 30 of our fans attacked their wall with suggestions for us to play with them. Eventually, the band’s label posted something about us,” said senior Justin Haas of the band Gatsby. Justin and his three other band members will be opening for Harvard, of Enjoy the Ride Records, on Dec. 13 at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ.
“When Gatsby  wanted to be on the bill for one of Harvard’s shows, everyone who supports Gatsby wrote on Harvard’s wall begging to let Gatsby play. Without Facebook, this would not have been possible,” said sophomore Megan Foley.
MySpace offers a music profile option allowing users to upload MP3 files of songs and create playlists. In 2005, MySpace established the MySpace Records label. Since its launch, more than eight million artists have been discovered including Grammy nominees Sean Kingston and Lily Allen.
“MySpace was used to communicate with promoters, booking companies and venues. Its layout allowed for new fans to listen to our music,” said Jason Mazursky, bassist for Outnumbered.
Facebook and MySpace establish connections between the integral parts of the music industry, upcoming artists, venues, record labels and listeners, leveling the playing field for new artists.
“I would have never heard of my favorite band if not for Facebook. Social networking sites have revolutionized the music industry,” said junior Jake Zacharia.
In the coming years, most bands will get their start online and some of us will be able to look back on whoever becomes the next Rolling Stones and say that we were one of the first thousand to like their Facebook page or stream their recordings on MySpace.