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To count or not to count

Hello Ms. Melody Stone,

I wanted to write to ask if you would stop putting a tally count of local and touring artists' myspace friends next to their names when listing upcoming shows and events. As a local performing artist and contributor to the creative scene in Humboldt (in coordination with a vast majority of other artists who've I've consulted about this matter) I feel that putting the frivolous count of digital people's from an online social network next to any musician's creative project listing really doesn't provide any insight about their personal aptitude or ability. It disheartening to be judged by a hit counter. Something has happened in the myspace universe that has penetrated the way people react to music, without even listening to it, and I just wanted to try to ask in hopes of trying stop it's quickly burgeoning phenomenon. Myspace is cool for independent musicians in a vastly expanding national scene of independent (touring) music, but it is not the be all, end all. I believe you to be one of the better music journalists in the area (of the 3-4 that exist) and think you're reporting would be all the better when not referencing such fleeting digital devices.

I'm keeping the person annon because I didn't ask if I could blog about them.

So what do you'all think?

I've been thinking about changing up my column because it's true the market is saturated with "scene guides." I like Monica's column style, somewhat in-depth thoughts about a certain band or happening. I feel like mine is just a shorter version of what Bob Doran does.

I know readers I've talked to enjoy the my space tally. It's not to really belittle bands who don't have a large my space following, more to high light bands that are huge. Ya know? You might be an up and coming band and be just as good as some big band from the city, and that's fine. No one is reading my column and saying "I'm not going to see that band, they've only got 100 my space friends." I don't believe the merit lies in the amount of friends, just saying, this band might be a big deal because they have tons of my space friends. You may have never heard of a band before, like Left Over Crack, but they are "kind of a big deal" and you can see that by the My Space count.

I also think it's says something about how long a bands been around, which is nice to know, but once again, doesn't really factor into if I'm going to attend the show or not.

But seriously folks, what do you think?

I have 503 My Space friends. Monica Topping, my fellow rock journalist has over 1,000, am I threatened by this? Do I think this makes me a less desirable writer? Nah, it means she's been doing it longer than I have.

I do respect and appreciate this feedback from my column, thanks to the person who wrote this letter.

Please vote in the poll on the side.

If you want to read this weeks column in the ER - click here


Anonymous said…
I voted no. I think it detracts from the professionalism of your writing. Also, there is nothing more annoying than the 20-odd friend requests I get per day from random bands that didn't even bother to look at the type of music I listen to (they're just assuming I'll add them to get my own "number of friends" count higher). Those numbers are all a distortion. I could see if they had 100,000 myspace friends, maybe mentioning that in your description of them, but even that doesn't really mean much.
Ya know, I'm not sure if it matters either way. As far as me having over 1000 friends (wait, let me change that to "friends"... in quotes), it almost annoys me. After I broke like 1300, I started being much more choosy as far as who I added. Started deleting bands that had no local connection and were annoying about their bulletins. I only add bands/musicians that are local, or will be touring through here, now.

It's obnoxious to me when bands from elsewhere send requests without so much as a note to say "hey."

Anyway, my theory is do what makes you happy. If you think you know what your readers like, do that. As the old customer service saying goes: A happy customer tells one person. An unhappy customer tells ten.

It's just the negative folks who are more vocal. Don't let that change everything you're doing.

Anonymous said…
What's the harm?

"Please refrain from telling me where a band's from. It has no relevance to their sound, and many US Americans don't have maps."

It's not the final word, but it's a piece of the story that interests me as a music fan.
Paulawallak said…
Well...I personally don't think it matters so much that it warranted a letter. However, I wouldn't put the number of friends because I don't think the they truly show anything of value about the bands...I know tons of people who just want as many friends as possible, not caring who they that respect it is not a reflection on the bands but on the people who want to be their friends. :)
Stephanie said…
I personally like the count. That was one of the first things I noticed when E first came out.

Honestly, I get more excited when I see bands that are coming to town that have a lot of friends. When The PHARMACY came to town, that was one of the factors I used when I encouraged our culture editor to review their show.

I like it. It's fun - it's hip - just like E is supposed to be. Keep it.
Stephanie said…
Oh, and by the way - you've got everyone else in Humboldt County listed under your Lovely Links but the Lumberjack.

Show us some love! :)
Forevermelody said…
That has been fixed! Sorry.
Nicki said…
The myspace count is one of my favorite things! I love it, i dont care how many friends a band has.. i just think it's an amusing little add on to the column. It's a tag line.. an eye catcher... i think it's cute!
Anonymous said…
The argument presented by the individual who contacted you does not necessitate that you change your format by any means.
For those who choose to utilize myspace as a resource, they may check the count of friends and factor that in to their decision making process.
If you don't feel that it is an accurate representation of the artist's talents, then choose to ignore it if you will.
Personally I appreciate this information that you present in your blurbs about the music scene. I don't consider it to be an accurate measurement of how much I will enjoy a particular show, but it is an additional way in which to choose what venue I attend. Maybe I'll go with the band who has a vast minority of friends compared to someone else because I feel like supporting them!
I would say that it would be prudent to not display the friend count of a band at their request, but leave it as a standard for the time being. However If a super majority of your readership does find the friend count to be too crass I would advise you to refrain then. Honestly, if I were in the bands position I would hope that people who check out my myspace and sample the music I put up; if someone is going to make a decision purely based upon how many " friends " I have, I would rather not have that person coming to my show.

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