Social Media

Why My Band Left MySpace & Facebook – For Good

image from Recently I spoke with Robin Davey who is a musician, director, and producer. His bands include The Hoax and most recently the eclectic pop duo The Bastard Fairies.

Davey has directed music videos for Buckcherry, Jet and Drowning Pool and his documentary The Canary Effect won The Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold and Innovative film making at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival. In this interview Davey talks about his bands exodus from MySpace and Facebook and why the music industry has changed less than we think. Most things are still the same.

At a time when artists are being encouraged to get even more involved with social media and networks, your group did something radical. You left.

You maintained an e-mail list and created discussion with fans. That's it.

Hypebot: What motivated you to leave Facebook and MySpace? How did you establish a more secure connection with your fans through e-mail as a result?

Robin Davey: No matter how many fans you have on a social network, it is the platform itself that dictates how you can communicate with them, how you can post updates, how many words you can use – the connectivity with fans is limited.

When MySpace crashed, we lost that connectivity with 40,000 + legitimate fans and our 1 million or so plays became meaningless, it is nothing more than a number. When it comes to your next release, it means nothing unless you can reach those fans again. It quickly became apparent that we could not communicate with our fans the way we wanted through these means.

We have always maintained an email list and we realized that the majority of our traffic came from posting direct to our fans through this platform. We decided to stop updating our social networks and exclusively use our email list last year. The overwhelming response from fans was fantastic. To make it a successful two way tool, when we send emails we are not just plugging our latest release, we mainly communicate our feelings and thoughts on topics we feel our fan base would like to talk about. We openly encourage people to reply and we feature the best replies we get. It's not actually that groundbreaking an idea, and I have to credit Bob Lefsetz email list as an inspiration, but it works very well for us.

When we made the switch, it was mainly musicians who wrote us and told us how wrong we were to do this and how we were killing our own career, but that's exactly what they said when, to my knowledge, we were the first band to give our entire album away for free download back in 2006.

If MySpace failed then Facebook and certainly twitter could soon follow suit.

You have to work at building a community of your own, whether it be live, or online, by making great music and creating good communication. Simply relying on social networks as your barometer for success is as unstable as the record industry itself and can disappear as quickly as it came.

Hypebot: You bring up a great point about how social networks dictate how artists can interact with their fans. They also dictate how fans can interact with you. What do you think the primary shortcomings of social networks are and how do these faults get in the way of the formations of meaningful connections?

Robin Davey: From a music point of view the shortcomings are that it's about socializing and not music. Things that get shared tend to be gimmicks, quick things to have a laugh about with friends. It's an extension of the bar culture. Meaningful interactions don't tend to happen at the bar, that's about joking around and hooking up. Proper conversations happen in relaxed environments where people have space to talk. There is no space to relax or talk on Facebook because everything whizzes by and time is limited. Again that's why we chose the mailing list route to interact because an inbox is your own environment not someone else's.

 Hypebot: It seems like so much has changed in the music industry. Yet, in reality, many things are exactly the same. The advances to new acts are gone. The rest remains static. What has stayed the same in the industry?

Robin Davey: Well it is constantly changing but day by day, it looks much better for the individual artist and decidedly worse for the corporate world. They say albums sales are down again this year, but for an artist we can earn nearly as much through a single download as we could one album sale in the corporate structure. If we sell 1,000 albums that can net us a much as we would get from an advance by signing to an indie label. If we sell 10,000 records then that's the same as an advance from a major label, but to repay an advance of 100,000 from a major would take at least 200,000 sales because of the royalty rate they offered.

The big story is that the industry is dying, but that's what the record labels want you to believe. Bands used to look to getting that elusive deal and big advance as a sign of making it, but only the smallest number of those bands would actually break even, let alone make money from those deals. So all that has actually disappeared is that fledging bands can no longer reap the rewards of a big advance for simply displaying the signs that they have potential for success. It is now like any other business – you earn money from actual sales, not possible sales.

This just means that the bands that are great, work hard and justly build a following get rewarded for it. The ones who concentrate on showcasing at the hip venues and hanging out in 'the scene' will continue to live a narcissistic fantasy life telling themselves "if only the right person could see how talented I was, I will be huge". Those who have a future in the emerging music industry will be building a loyal following one fan at a time by playing every venue that will have them between here and Cape Cod.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great piece in [his book Outliers] about how The Beatles did 1,000 shows sometimes playing three sets a night in Hamburg before they were 'discovered'. There was a reason they were so good, and it wasn't simply down to the science of genes and lucky circumstance.

Hypebot: Why do you think the idea of some guy in the back of the bar discovering your band is such a powerful myth? Even though that's happening less and less these days, more people seem to be invested in the idea that this is how the record industry works.

That they will be plucked from obscurity tomorrow.

Robin Davey: I think it's because so many artists believe they are destined to be famous. Because of this they think it's just a matter of time before someone connected sees them and brings their undeniable talent to the world. If you work hard and gig as much as possible you increase the chances that someone will see you, who will tell someone else who knows someone who's in the industry. But you'll get noticed because you worked hard, built up a following and got good enough so eventually you can't be ignored, not because your natural talent outshines everyone else. When these YouTube sensations get noticed they already have 2 million plays, you don't see someone with 200 plays bagging the big deal do you?

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  1. Myspace worked very well for a while, and I think mostly because musician accounts were treated differently from general social networking accounts, and those musician accounts made it easy for even very non-techie musicians to set up a clean page with song samples, a show schedule, photos, videos, updates, blogs, and fan comments. While Facebook took out Myspace in terms of general social networking, it was a major fail as a musician site, and since they never really corrected that, you have to assume that their technical infrastructure is as vulnerable to horrible design decisions and potentially self-destructive behavior as Myspace turned out to be, with musician accounts, for what they are, being especially vulnerable.
    So basically I have to agree that the musician’s primary account should never again be a social networking site (barring the next social networking big thing getting things completely right, which is very unlikely), but that some sort of token presence on something like a Facebook/Twitter combo be maintained mostly in terms of something akin to the old Myspace bulletins, which I personally found very useful during its heyday. This would be strictly for Facebook users and the like potentially interested in taking in one of your shows or buying new music, but who wouldn’t regularly check out individual musician sites. As for the primary site, that’s more tricky than it ought to be in this day and age: individual musician domain sites are still basically a pain to set up and maintain, but you have complete control; while musician-targeted alternatives to Myspace and Facebook like Bandcamp, Reverbnation and such let musicians again set up a music site pretty easily, you are still at the mercy of any changes to a “business plan” down the road.
    A lot of musicians seem to keep at least two Bandcamp-type music sites actively updated, which appears to provide a fallback if one fails or goes bad. That might be the best current solution, barring taking the time or hiring someone to keep a domain site regularly updated.

  2. “It is now like any other business – you earn money from actual sales, not possible sales.”
    THIS x 1000.

  3. This fits well with our “pitch” at Bandzoogle…
    Your main online hub should always be your own website where you:
    – Control the experience and narrative
    – OWN the mailing list
    – Can sell your music and merch directly to fans, at no commission
    You can still use Facebook/Twitter/Myspace/Youtube, but use those as “spokes” to your main “hub”, to seed content and conversation but bring traffic back to your own .com, where you keep the good stuff.

  4. Unless you have your own site you are always at the mercy of someone else. They disappear so do you and all your “friends.”
    A plug for Bandzoogle (post before mine). I have several artists that have have sites with them and I keep the label site on their platform. Their site system works well and is reasonably easy to build and maintain.

  5. Leaving social networks altogether isn’t the lesson here… the lesson is using them for their intended and specific purposes, to build your band’s LARGER fan network. Common sense!

  6. Exactly so: “Simply relying on social networks as your barometer for success is as unstable as the record industry itself and can disappear as quickly as it came.”
    Great interview.

  7. It’s true that if you don’t own the site, you don’t own the traffic either. It’s the truth about blogging platforms, so why not social media.
    Really cool, thought provoking interview!

  8. I help out with a music blog/podcast site and the biggest response we’ve had over the last four to five years came from an artist who had been using e-mail lists to keep in touch with their fans long before the free download for a e-mail sign-up became the current trend. Their presence on social media sites was negligible.
    Keep it up. Love the Canary Effect doc btw.

  9. “To make it a successful two way tool, when we send emails we are not just plugging our latest release, we mainly communicate our feelings and thoughts on topics we feel our fan base would like to talk about. We openly encourage people to reply and we feature the best replies we get.”
    Exactly my approach! It works. The fans are engaged not inundated.

  10. great article, great musician with common sense. use the social networks for what you can, but don’t give them ANY power over your fans/artist relationship. your own website or blog should be the number one social and music network representing you.
    all of the social networks are controlled or in pocket with the same dickheads that run the major label corporations and they don’t give a fuck about you are your music. they need you to bring potential customers (your fans) to them and use the database of names to sell to advertisers and future business deals. the major labels are not doing very well and have laid-off thousands of people. but they still find the time to play musical chairs with these over the hill, and over paid executives that bring nothing to the table but old out-dated ways sensibilities. hopefully more artist will have some common sense like Robin Davey.

  11. I definitely agree with this! The social networks are just one of the ways to communicate with fans. It is not the ONLY way. That is where artists make the mistake. Many forms of social media have something to offer. It’s a mistake to completely ignore them.
    Even Myspace still has users, many who at least added your band as a friend at some point or another.

  12. What a great and encouraging interview! As someone else commented, the answer regarding bands working hard to find success is dead on. At, we look forward to seeing more dedicated and hardworking bands make it big.

  13. Hard working and talented artists can make a decent living by following common sense – and this article pretty much nails that. Perform, write, tour – spread your word like it is a mission.

  14. Excellent interview. Reminds me of what Jaron Lanier says in “You Are Not A Gadget”…technology has a ‘lock-in’ effect that undermines art and humanity. We need to be wise and intentional about how we use this stuff. People and music come first…

  15. Sounds like the only difference between hisemail list and a blog is that his fans can’t interact with each other, like we’re doing right now.

  16. He didn’t leave MySpace:
    Didn’t leave Facebook:
    Still post updates to YouTube:
    Uses Tumblr to host his ReverbNation email widget:
    Uses social media buttons for his “About” pages on his website:
    I think it’s a bit disingenuous to say he “left” all these social media platforms. He’s still using them, just isn’t active on them.
    Also, they basically turned their email list into a private blog, which IS social network. And on ReverbNation, no less.
    I’m not saying what he’s doing is a bad idea, nor an uncommon one. In fact, it’s great that he’s figured out how to leverage his fan base online. Kudos! But…he hasn’t “left” anything. He’s just using it differently.
    Maybe it’s just me, but when someone posts “WE DON’T USE SOCIAL NETWORKS. JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST” on their social networks, they sound kind of silly.

  17. Its an interesting argument, to advance heavily moderated email broadcasts as a better social experience than a forum which enables direct and unmoderated interaction. To also advance the notion that this expands the social interactivity of the solution while at the same time also pursuing a commerce model which eliminates social interaction (I’m not purchasing in a physical store, I’m not getting exposed to neighbouring musicians in the same genre and I’m not jostling elbows with people whose opinions I don’t just get the words about, but can also get the subconcious influences related to physical interaction.)
    Facebook and MySpace always created a more dynamic method of influence on what next to listen too. Sites like Pandora and have been helping me fill the gap left by music retailers dropping content because at least I know that there is a greater corelation between what I like and what my virtual neighbours like. Then I can walk into my local Sunrise and special order.
    I’d rather be able to just pick it off the shelf though.

  18. Dear Trent Finlay,
    This article is about The Bastard Fairies (not just Robin Davey) in case you cant read good. If you go to any of The Bastard Fairies Sites that are still up as placeholders to the old fans that go there, you will see that they dont update them and the message says “we’ve left!”. If you’re going to do research to try and slam someone, do it well. What do you gain from this? Except looking stupid.

  19. oh please, unless “your” band site, along with the other 250,000 is plugging a live show that local people are aware of, you band site means little to nothing online. Without social networking, the 100 hits per week will be down to literally zero. You’ll go from selling one download per year to zero. Get out and play, when you get home email your friends and send them pictures and post whever you can, myspace included. Why cut yourself short? A good band will get a following. A band that sucks will not.

  20. I went to MySpace and it was just a crummy place full of crummy people. I went to Facebook and it was just a narrow corridor of formal procedures that I didn’t understand.
    I don’t know who likes these things but it isn’t me, and by extension, it might not be the kind of people who like what I do, which is not real typical of chart music today.

  21. I see in my case. and Google search for my fans, and Tunecore combined, helped me accelerate my attention to many fans worldwide., sure is disappointed. I have double as much friends. Now I am in the 4th. week, telling The MySpace Staff that my friends list counter number does not move up, while I am receiving 30 to 100 friends a day. They said, it is a bug, they should have it fixed by next century. So I see, we can’t rely on them either, totally correct. My hotel/resort management background, has helped me market and promote my cause with all of the above help. Unfortunate. I do not have the finances to tour or even afford a band. But that won’t take long. Besides above explanation, a good marketing plan on a strong budget is also strongly recommended. And a great personal manager found in France. Thank you so much for this explanation. It did help. My own website:
    Google search me under the name, aquablauw, you’ll find me all over the world.

  22. I see in my case. and Google search for my fans, and Tunecore combined, helped me accelerate my attention to many fans worldwide., sure is disappointed. I have double as many friends. Now I am in the 4th. week telling The MySpace Staff that my friends list counter number does not move up, while I am receiving 30 to 100 friends a day. They reassure me, that it is only a bug, so it should be fixed, next century. Yep even them, I can’t rely on being kosher. My hotel/resort management background, has helped me market and promote with all of the above help. Unfortunate. I do not have the finances to tour or even afford a band.Although I am totally satisfied, with my new acquired manager in France. As for now, the basis of my fans are established. Google search, aquablauw all over the world. Thanks to Tunecore, I establish my own record company, signed up a rock band out of China and am selling our songs all over the globe. I believe we all have different ideas in the hows and the do’s. But this explains a whole lot, I will use this information in the near future, thank you so much.
    Google search, aquablauw… I am all over the world!

  23. I slowly been switching over to email and even though I don’t use my Myspace page or Facebook page much it has been a great tool for SEO thats the only reason I won’t completely cut them off..Dang near almost every Artist I know if you google them their Myspace or Facebook page is page 1 in the search thats why I hold on to my pages..and i would suggest anyone else do the same..

  24. as a jazz musician, when i told this guy who’s a big-player manager, that i refuse to have a FB account since i don’t like FB, and am using email to publicize my stuff, he stopped talking to me since.

  25. No reason to quit Facebook and Twitter and MySpace for email.. use them all to drive people to the email subscription button and that will help building the following, not many will subscribe but some will. No reason to say no to that..unless it’s a marketing trick…
    Good interview but no need for extremes..

  26. Would someone please tell me how this douchebag Robin Davey got an interview and why his bonehead opinion matters? I would say that Davey is actually speaking of himself when he speaks of her skankness, Tila Tequila, below.
    “No more Tila Tequilas (<--insert Robin Davey's name). Or any other vapid, emotionally unstable individuals, using their scantily clad assets to whore themselves to any geeky virgin that would click 'accept friend request'. MySpace made it even easier for these talentless types to claim singing as a part of their resume. So now when you get chatting with someone who proclaims themselves to be big on MySpace, you can give them the advice that they really need to get out more."

  27. i do not like myspace either i when there for the music likes yours love your stuff
    but i have almost 1400 bands from all over the world most of i would not known if not for myspace i love all music and think it is a way bring people together i share this with others and hope it shows someone that we are all one
    peace roger bastard collector
    i think your the people with music should set a place where you can share with us who love all muice

  28. Wow… this is a very, very good read. An awesome perspective, and as a newcomer to indie music, it’s got me thinking for sure. Gotta keep these things in mind. Thanks guys……….. oh, and I am digging these songs too. Keep on keeping on.

  29. Yep, agreed my brothers!
    We have somewhere around 130,000 ‘friends’ collectively on MySpace, there’s almost no joy there.
    For you honest, dedicated and hardworking musicians, we have literally 1000’s of unread messages in our inbox on MySpace.
    It got to the point where it was taking too much time to weed out the auto-generated stuff and with that, deserving artists who send genuine messages don’t stand a chance to be heard because of that saturation.
    For a musician, Twitter is good for keeping your fans up to date and for gaining new industry contacts, not so good for gaining new music fans.
    Can’t speak for Facebook.
    But anyways, the musicians website is a solid idea.
    Preferably unbranded. Grab some shared hosting, install wordpress and some plugins, you’re good to go!
    All outside links should be pointed to your website.
    Get yourself an email plugin for your wordpress and collect email addresses and then send newsletters right from your site.
    Get it done!
    You could rebuild MySpace if you wanted too, right?
    Then you can certainly handle your own website.

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