It's probably not the first thought on everyone's minds; but with the jubilation of Darth Vader's media climbdown it sobers me to think that his empire figuratively controlled many thousands of artists, through MySpace—something which almost stopped me joining had I not been talked into it [and I shall not—this time—mention who].
It wasn't control in the sense of money—although that is something that was tried, with SnoCap—but through use of the Web itself. MySpace has a specific layout format that tells you where you are: not at the site of an artist, but at the MySpace site of the artist. The distinction is important:
- if MySpace decided to change the format—as they did—any work that was put into wrestling with the standard format would be lost;
- the wrestling with the format could take up as much time [and for those who are not Web-savvy, money] as if you'd written a site yourself; and
- when it comes down to it, it is still not the artist's site.
When I look at musicians' behaviour on social networking sites, I see the same pattern:
- artist joins
- artist tries to modify site in various ways to promote work
- site modifies to accommodate new type of user
- new businesses join adding yet more [but not necessarily reliable] services for artist to use
- artist tries to cover all bases by adding all services
- new social networking site pops up
- artist's followers migrate
- artist migrates
- artist goes back to step 1
But this post is not a crowing about my having my own site, as I did that already. Nor is it a shouty post telling musicians to have their own space—although to be honest that is exactly what I think. This is going to be a start of a collection of articles to help artists [and musicians specifically] grow their own space. It will be a personal outlook, so I'm sure some people will disagree with what I have to say: but I think it's more important now for those people who talk about being free to have the tools to be able to be free on-line. I also think that as someone who's had a fair amount of experience in having his own space, I'm in a good position to help. At least, that will be the aim.
Some of the things I write will be technical. That's because I have a technical background—after all, I still code this site. Quite a few things will be music-related, for obvious reasons. But I'll also try to cover existing tools that I have tried, and approaches I think are sensible. I'll answer questions too, so please ask, either using the comments form below or my contact page.
Having your own site is a bit like having a garden or a plant; and so the first instalment [in about a week or so] will be about what you grow your garden in: the web host.
I hope it all proves useful!