By: Navjot Kaur Sobti
20-second intermission – sweaty, greased out headbangers drop out of the heavy riffage for a moment– and their 30 minute set of grimy, metal brutality is brought to a pause as the band gives a humble thanks to the crowd, followed by the familiar, “and you can find us online at myspace.com/fill-in-the-blank-band-name.” Oftentimes, it’s a great relief, when you have no idea what the name of that opening band is, courtesy of the indiscernible, scratchy metal logo on the banner behind the band’s blasting drummer. If you’re a band, it’s silently understood that you’ll have a Myspace page, and if you’re a listener, chances are you’ll check out their gory and grim jpg-saturated page before hitting up that local show.
With the wave of users who, in the last 5+ years, dropped their Myspace pages to uptake what initially was deemed the “classier” (and apparently more “private”) account on Facebook, Myspace has emerged as a haven for independent artists, and all sorts of bands – underground, major, and classic. Nonetheless, with the increasing advent of new social networking sites, it seems as though their respective creators have stepped it up a notch to kill the competition and draw in the viewers; Facebook, for example, has used band fan pages and Reverb Nation, as a means of getting the word out about bands. Despite the perks of both Facebook and Myspace – free domains, unlimited incriminating photo storage capacity, and self-ego-stroking “about me” sections – it seems that both sites are receiving significantly less attention than they had been, a few years back. So, which site has taken the spotlight? Youtube.com.
In 2008, Bigchampagne, a media measuremnt company, took up the task of tracking where viewers are searching and streaming their music. In their research, they found that the average track streamed via Myspace Music in one day, was equivalent to a week’s spin on Youtube.com. More recently, they tracked a non-metal, mainstream tune – Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” – and observed a drastic difference in streaming on myspace vs. youtube. Here is what they found:
Rihanna, “Rude Boy”
MySpace Music (w/e 5/2)
YouTube (w/e 5/2)
4,282,376 video views
The stats testify Youtube’s emergence as the go-to site for music, with a viewership over four times greater than that of Myspace. Nonetheless, the increase in Youtube popularity has less to due with the particular decline of Myspace than the advent of Vevo, which is a Youtube-embedded service, backed by major labels, and altogether top destination for online music-seekers. In December of ’09, Vevo edged 35.4 million viewers, whereas Myspace tiptoed roughly 33.1 million: a slim but noticeable margin between both sites. The rapid ascent of Youtube in the modern age of online music is so tangible, in fact, that between February and March of this year, Youtube’s Google video views shot up from 11.95 to 13.05 billion, with 42% of all viewership online. Only time will tell which sites will make the cut and break the records on viewership, but as far as musicians are concerned, as long as they keep playing those gigs – providing the audio/visual for music videos – the Age of Youtube now appears to be an inevitable and unstoppable era to come.