A recent visit to Facebook this week got me thinking about the role of social networking in our modern busy lives.

First off - what a mess Facebook has become.  I have been avoiding it for months now - primarily because the functionality of it was tiresome (have I ever really wanted to be "poked" by anyone I didn't know? or turned into a zombie? hmm). Seeing it this week I was amazed anyone can be bothered with it - the "new" design is a truly shameful cluttered chaos.

For Gaymonkey, social networking has been an amazing tool.  I remember the first time I heard about MySpace - I didn't quite understand why I would need another home on the web when our own was doing so well. However, the direct marketing potential quickly became very clear. Finally we had a platform to interact with lovers of music - and potential fans! The dream of the Long Tail was born ...

But as more social networking sites have popped up, MySpace's power has diminished. Facebook has proven to be more appealing to the less-music conscious masses, and it feels that no one is using MySpace to interact - it is now simply an easy way for a band to have a website.

The big winner at the moment for labels and their fans is Last.fm. Gaymonkey artists have always been involved with the site - and while they started out as more of a digital radio service, their expansion into social networking has been very slick. Here we can actually see who has been listening to our tracks, and then interact with them directly. The potential to build a community of like-minded individuals, passionate about our niche, seems very real. And the library is massive - providing the ultimate on-demand resource. Who needs radio at all anymore?

Whenever I mention Last.fm on this blog, someone emails me about imeem.com, boasting about its superiority. Imeem has nothing that interests me - certainly it caters to a more mainstream american market as it has no presence in the UK. 

A new kid on the block is SoundCloud.  Based around peer-to-peer sharing, the site could prove to be very useful for labels and artists to swap music without using FTP or services like YouSendIt. Although it is a member site, i'm wondering how they will get around potential copyright infringement by joe public ...

The synopsis? as social networking becomes increasingly a part of our lives, the scope for the niche communities to find their own corners of the web to hang out in becomes even more possible. The Long Tail will support those sites to thrive and grow.  And hopefully we won't all lose the ability to interact with each other in the real world ...

Image by rabinal

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