by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Identity Crisis
I hoped to never write another MySpace piece -- I thought people had figured it out by now -- but no, MySpace is just the newest venue for the oldest human stupidities. So the columns keep a-comin'.
People have been impersonating musicians for as long as celebrity has been desirable. My dad's friend used to drive around Idaho in a Dodge Dart scoring free beer by claiming to be Creedence Clearwater Revival's drummer, for example. The most recent thing is spammers hacking bands' MySpace pages, then posting comments to their fans, such as "OMG cheap designer purses!" New tech, same scam.
It's an obvious con and quickly exposed. Handled correctly, the image of the band impersonated probably isn't tarnished. Unless, of course, the band stupidly starts e-yelling at its e-fans for pointing the hack out. Last week, I got a comment from local band 19 Points of Nowhere inviting me to unheard of savings on the most lavish Chanel handbags. It was obviously a hack. On their page a few nice people had already tipped them off, so I didn't. Game over I thought. They'd change their password, send out an "I'm sorry" and all would be forgiven.
Instead, I returned from Sasquatch to find a bulletin from the band berating everyone who commented to let them know about the hack. It begins incredulous ("We get it! We were hacked!") then goes on to compare the comments they received to the initial spamming itself, actually having the gall to suggest fans' warnings were somehow harder on the band than the spam had been on its fans.
The blindness of that statement alone is staggering. The lack of professionalism in broadcasting it to every single person the band knows, though, is mind-boggling.
For the love of God, if your MySpace page gets hacked, understand it for what it is, a potential breach of the trust your fans have placed in you, and act accordingly. Apologize at every turn, then make catastrophe an opportunity. Send out a bulletin thanking the first commenter and give the kid a free CD. All of a sudden, you're the hero in the story, not the asshole.