Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"I am a weapon of massive consumption,

...It's not my fault, it's how I'm programmed to function." So says Lily Allen in her new song "The Fear" which I am listening to as it streams on her MySpace page. The song, an ode to crazed consumerism, seems timely for the mess we're all caught up in at the moment, though it has a cheery pop quality that is kind of disturbing for the subject.

The Fear video

Allen just released her second album "It's Not Me, It's You" yesterday. Since I was keen on her first album a few years back (you may remember the equally cheerful song "Smile" about relishing the pain of a lover who jilted her), I am sampling the new album from her site's player. Allen virtually made her career thanks to MySpace, developing her following, allowing listeners to sample her music and publicizing her tour dates.

The current experience is a little frustrating because there are frequent interruptions as Domino's ads appear and have to be clicked away before a song will continue - major annoyance. Still, I can't help but admire how the singer has harnessed the power of her social network to get her message out. She is even performing 3 free "secret" MySpace sponsored concerts. The first one is tonight at Bowery Ballroom in New York.

Music seems to be the only area where MySpace has been able to continually beat it's eager little sibling, Facebook. I wonder how much longer that will be the case as sites like iLike are building an audience separately and within Facebook - will it trump MySpace? Though I have never been a serious MySpace user, to me iLike is a better version of the artist's "megaphone," broadcasting every little detail about their goings-on to fans. The experience is much more organized and customizable, though graphically inferior. Still artists have been loyally creating elaborate pages on MySpace for years, some even cooler than their own dedicated websites.

Today's fickle music fans are demanding more of their favorite artists, and thanks to technology, can find ways to get their music free. So the musician-consumer relationship has really been turned on its head. Musicians have to be more creative in their marketing, using all the available resources to catch the audience's fleeting attention and harness it into iTunes or Amazon song sales, or even concert tickets. Free underground shows are not only great for publicity (for both Lily Allen and MySpace) but a necessity to show fans that you love and appreciate them as much as they are into you.

The next logical step? Personal emails ala Barack Obama. I can't wait until I get that email from Beck telling me he hopes I liked the new album or asking me to come out for his concert when he is in my hometown. Depending on how it's done, it could be awesome.