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My space...Your space. What's the Big Deal?
By Ricky Fitzpatrick - 08/09/2006 - 01:13 PM EDT

On my return voyage, back to the Muse, I found myself turning over many ideas, looking for that just right…”Howdy, I’m baaaaaaaack” article. What to write???

And what do you know? It was staring me right in the face. I mean, literally. Right there on my computer screen. Over ONE HUNDRED MILLION users strong. Kids. Parents. Professionals. Bums. Black. White. Purple Polka Dot. Men. Women. Pets! Yes...PETS.

In case you’ve been living tightly packed, beneath a rock for the last year, let me clue you in. Myspace has turned the world of digital “How y’doin?” on it’s ear. And in case you haven’t noticed, musicians are capitalizing on it in a very big way. From major label artists to average Joe Schmo. To coin a phrase, “Everyboy’s doing it”. A couple of my musician friends here in GA are majorly into it, with tens of thousands of friends in their fan base and hundreds of thousands of song plays and page views!

Anytime 100 million people gather together, someone is going to be either selling something or passing an offering plate. For our purposes as songwriters and performers, let’s concentrate on selling. More specifically, marketing, which is a derivative of selling. (We’ll leave the offering stuff to the…well…to the people who do that so well.)

The major labels are making sure THEIR artists have not only a “www.megaartist.com” site, but most of them now have a Myspace site as well. Actually, my own Myspace site (www.myspace.com/rickyfitzpatrickmusic) gets more hits than my “main” site at http://www.rickyfitzpatrick.com/. (Guess where I concentrate my efforts, the most.) You don’t really need to know where MS came from or who started it or even all the super cool little ins and outs of it. But what you DO need to know is you need to be there. If James Taylor and Willie Nelson and every other songwriting icon in the universe is there…yeah. You need to be there.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You must sell yourself as an artist or writer or whatever, if you want to succeed. The public, your fans, publishers, A&R folks, label owners. All these people have to be…no…WANT to be SOLD on something. It’s human nature. We all do. Music Publishers are actively looking for the next hit for their roster of artists. Yes, they have their favorite pool of writers, but don’t kid yourself. They DO look outside of that pool. And how will they ever notice YOU?

Stumble on you? Accidentally misspell your name in a Google search and find you? Oh, I got it...maybe the phone book falls off the top of the refrigerator, hits the counter just so, slides into the toaster oven at just the right angle, which bumps it to the edge of the counter where it teeters ever so slightly for just a second on the edge, then slips over the side, gracefully hitting the cat right on the head which causes the cat to jump about two feet straight up, do a double back flip with a twist and when he comes down, feet already motoring, he lands on the open phone book, turning a few pages as he runs and just happens to end on the one with your name on it, where the publishing executive magically looks down and sees yours amidst the 299 other names on that page, deduces that you’re a songwriter, thinks that you're worth a damn and then calls you up in hopes that you might have a hit just...oh...lying around for the next Kenny Chesney release?

Nah.

Thank you, Kevin Costner…“If you build it, they will come.” Truer words were never spoken. But let me change that a little. “If you build it AND it looks really cool and it attracts a lot of attention and a ton of people are checking it out…THEN they will come.”

There. That’s better.

Look. It’s free, alright. Myspace gives songwriters and artists the chance to display their wares (up to 4 songs), post photos, host blogs, build a “friend” list, send bulletins, messages, IMs, chats. My God. It’s a networking fantasy. Did I say it's free? Do it! It's free, by the way.

Put yourself in a major publisher’s shoes. You browse Myspace regularly, “just in case”. You see cheesy, poorly built sites by people claiming to be the next Dylan or Prine or Jesus Christ. And you wonder, curiously frustrated. Then you see a tastefully laid out site, quite a few “friends”. Clean picture. A good number of comments. You think, “OK, I’ll see what this guy’s music sounds like.”

Or…you interact and chat and leave comments on other artist’s sites. You build fans (or “friends”). Someone tells someone who tells someone who emails someone that sends a message to a friend who works at Curb Records to check out “this guy” they heard about on Myspace. And they do. And your odds of success go up, dramatically. No guarantee, but if you never play, you’ll certainly never win. Avoid Myspace, and you piss away a golden opportunity to meet someone who might could help you. Maybe NOT. But maybe.

And that’s how it’s done. Bam. That’s how an unknown guy gets heard. Or at least ONE way. Other than knowing a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who drinks with a guy who went to school with their cousin who used to clean the pool of the guy who works on the road crew of the opening act for someone famous. Which is how it’s been done for decades…a “god ol’ boy” network. Now, thanks to the wonderful world of Myspace, we have a way to circumvent that. We have our OWN digital GOB network, and we’re making history (or rewriting history) as we go here.

It’s not a sure fire way to get noticed or heard or signed or anything like that. So don’t run to your mama crying when Sony doesn’t return your calls, and say “But Ricky said…”. But in all seriousness, this is one more tool (and a damn big one) that you add to your musician’s tool belt. And the more tools you have and use, the greater your chances of getting the job done right. Right? Right.

Do yourself a favor. Go to Myspace. Create a free artist’s site. Make it pretty. Interact and add some friends. Get to know some people. Add your best tunes. And start exploring this avenue. You may just be surprised at what a good thing it can be.

By the way, good to be back. Thanks, Jodi.

Peace...Ricky



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