writingDear Musicians and Bands,

I know that this is not something you want to hear, and I realize that it may be painful to many of you, but it is something that has to be said, and as I don’t know how to say it without sounding too harsh, here it is:

Facebook is not MySpace.

I know that on MySpace it was cool to be friends with everyone, whether you knew them or not in the real world, and that the number of friends you had became some sort of twisted badge of honor as well as bragging rights (regardless of how unresponsive most of them were/are to your updates).  That is all fine and good–that’s whatMySpace is, after all–but that is not Facebook.

Facebook is about connecting with people who you know off-line–family, friends, co-workers, etc.  Unless you fall into one of those categories, I’m probably not going to be your Facebook buddy, no matter how many times you try to persuade me otherwise by sending a message that says, “Hey there–I saw that you’re a fan of Mark Hollis/WaxPoetics/WaterlooRecords/etc. Add me as a friend to hear some similar music that I think you’ll really like.”  Don’t get me wrong–I am friends with MANY musicians on Facebook , but they are all people who I have some sort of real-world connection with (i.e., friends, family, artists who I have worked with, etc).

I use Facebook to see how my co-worker’s family is doing; I use Facebook to learn what my sister did with her day; I use Facebook to reconnect with friends of my youth who I have not seen since I was, well, young. In fact, that is how most people use Facebook.  I don’t want you–a complete stranger–knowing more details of my day than are already available on Twitter; I don’t want you–a complete stranger–checking out the new photos of my family vacation that I just posted; and I don’t want to see your generic status message that says “Come to our show” showing up repeatedly in my friend feed (as it would via messages onMySpace) unless we have some sort of other connection outside of Facebook first.

Don’t misunderstand–I want to hear your music.  I want to be blown away by your new single and tell everyone about it.  I want to connect with you online, but doing it (initially) by asking me to add you as a friend on Facebook is not the way to begin our relationship.

Instead, may I recommend that you try something like this:

  • Set up a Facebook page where people can choose to declare themselves fans of you/your music
  • Tell me (and all of cyberspace) about your Facebook Fan page via your website/blog/Twitter/MySpace/Last.fm/iLike/LaLa/Imeem/etc.  After all, these are the sites that I and most other people use to discover music and initially connect with unfamiliar artists.
  • Then, if I like what I hear, I can declare myself a fan via your Facebook page for all of my (real-world) Facebook friends to see
  • As those Facebook friends do have real-world connections with me and often come to me for music recommendations, they are friends who will probably be more than a little curious as to why I’ve declared myself a fan of your art and will thus be that much more likely to click through to see what you’re all about, becoming fans as well.

So, what do you think? We’re still cool, right?

Jared

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