Surprisingly, this isn't the only time that I'd discovered some new music via MySpace. When Creative sent its Zen MP3 player in for review, there were a few sample tracks on the device and one was titled Smoke and Fire by a band called Sowena. Embedded in the tag for this track was a link to the band's MySpace page, which I found myself compelled to visit. Once there I listened to some more material and also dropped the guys a line to try and get hold of one of their EPs. Unfortunately the band is currently waiting to have some more discs pressed, but I whole heartedly advise anyone to pick one up as soon as they're available.
Bizarrely though, the thing that has actually driven me to look at MySpace pages is the exact same thing that had users leaving the service in droves, and probably ending up on FaceBook - commercialism. Now I know that for every great band or artist with a MySpace page, there are a thousand that you'd happily go the rest of your life without ever hearing, but the fact still stands that MySpace has become a valid commercial medium for the promotion of musical artists. Does this make MySpace less of a social site and more of a commerce site? Perhaps, but I certainly don't see that as a bad thing.
Strangely enough I've had similar complaints about TrustedReviews when some of the big content aggregator sites have linked to us. The most common comment from the so called "social conscience" of the Internet is that they shouldn't have to view adverts to read out content, and the fact that TR has ads makes us, in some way, evil. It appears that the fact that every bit of content on this site is free to read isn't enough for some of the Internet populace, only a complete lack of commercialism will make them happy. Unfortunately for them, that is completely naÃ¯ve and unrealistic.
Ultimately if there is a way for people to make money from something, they will. It wasn't that long ago when the idea of buying goods on the Internet was unheard of, but now even a computer novice is happy to shop online. Likewise, online advertising was thin on the ground only a few years ago, but now companies realise the benefit of online marketing over traditional mediums. And it wasn't that long ago that the only way you could have your music heard by millions of people was to record a steady stream of demo tapes and send them to every radio station on the planet, in the vain hope that one day you'd get some air play. But now, bands can allow anyone in the world to stream their tracks from a web page.
Yes, the Internet has become a commercial medium, and many of the so called social networking sites now thrive off this commercialism, but unlike many I don't believe this to be a bad thing. MySpace has evolved from a medium for the everyman, a billboard to speak your mind to anyone who might stop by and listen. It's now a very successful marketing tool, and one that doesn't need a million pound budget to reach the masses. So, while I still have no desire to sign up to MySpace, I can at least appreciate that it provides a useful service - sometimes.