by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & cross the spectrum from demos and physical press kits, MySpace has, in just three years, become the de facto Web page, fan site and marketing tool for fledgling bands (for all bands, really). Yeah, it's slow, stupidly difficult to navigate, and it was designed with less foresight than a landfill slum in Rio de Janeiro. It's also, though, the seventh most popular Web site in the world. That's a lot of little potential eyes watching your band do its thing.
Since there are so many people on-site and since the streets of this global barrio are hopelessly tangled and littered with trash (you know who you are), bands have to make their page unique, user-friendly and simple. Those are difficult things to balance. The people you're trying to attract don't care enough to spend tons of time on your page and, since many of them are young, they have the crippled attention spans of the Internet generation. Whereas we openly solicited for the demos, for this section we went covert, perving some area MySpace pages for quality and content. They didn't ask for our advice, but they're sure as hell going to get it.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/yokohamahooks" & Yokohama Hooks & lt;/a & & r & Good: Great low-res music video showcases the Hooks' artpunk sensibilities. & r & Bad: Friend comments get dumped at the end of a very long page. & r & Ugly: Flour tortilla profile picture is terrifying.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/adamneedsmore" & Josh Hedlund & lt;/a & & r & Good: Four gorgeous, dulcet (and decently recorded), whisper-soft ballads for Elliot Smith and Nick Drake fans to cut themselves to. & r & Corresponding mysterious back-lit silhouette picture. & r & Bad: Who the hell is "adamneedsmore" and where can we find Josh Hedlund? & r & Ugly: Page could use a little design spice.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/vaxlavala" & Vax Lavala & lt;/a & & r & Good: Neon is very five minutes from now & r & Bad: Only one song from group's previous band (Big Wang Theory) & r & Ugly: PC- and Safari-friendly, the page gets all jacked when viewed with Mac Firefox.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/spokaneinfernorecords" & Inferno Mobb & lt;/a & & r & Good: Four solid, impeccably produced West Coast rap tracks & r & Page looks a Masta P album set on fire (that's a good thing, seriously) & r & Bad: Page is incredibly Flash-heavy, and thus hard on crappy computers. & r & Ugly: The music player gets pushed off the right side of the page, even at high resolutions.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/jamespants" & James Pants & lt;/a & & r & Good: The music (quality, panache, Skeletor photo) & r & Blog has tracklists! & r & Bad: Need more blogs ... please. We're begging & r & Ugly: We call it the Genesis photo (on the pics page), and it's hideous ... ly sexy.
The Professionals & r & These two Web pages are what record deals will get you. Copy them for proven marketability.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/corettascott" & Coretta Scott & lt;/a & & r & This is Spokane's best-branded band. Site is hip in exactly the way it needs to be, the backdrop has an '80s steez that perfectly matches the cover of their latest album (Scream & amp; Shout). Jokey, semi-nude photos make us want to claw our eyes out, but they skirt MySpace's decency rules and, apparently, drive 14-year-old girls nuts. (Attracting 64 photo comments within two hours of publishing is a meaty number.) Page contains links to their label, to purevolume.com, and to every online store that sells their album. Coretta Scott is a band that sells records; theirs is a MySpace page that drives record sales.
& lt;a href="http://myspace.com/joshritter" & Josh Ritter & lt;/a & & r & The Moscow, Idaho, native was on the cover of, like, 10 magazines this month following release of The Animal Years and amid hysterical comparisons to Dylan. But you wouldn't know it by his MySpace page. Branded in the exact opposite way from Coretta Scott, Josh doesn't want to sell you his record from his MySpace page. Simple and unimposing, Ritter merely wants to point you to places where you can conveniently stream the whole album for free. He'd also like you to check out his fan club. Try-before-you-buy is an effective technique, as is buy-after-you-join-my-cult-of-personality.