MySpace, once a bustling blend of up-and-coming musicians and busy profile pages, has over the past two years become a stronghold for spammers, robots and robot spammers.
Unquestionably, social networking sites are the new frontier for auto-generated, irritating promotions. But what effect does this have on real live users of the site?
Earlier this week, Davey Love, a music promoter and record label owner, answered that question on the community message board Stillepost.ca. Love hired music promotion company TheMusebox for his label, Magnificent Sevens. Part of the firm’s online marketing strategy involves MySpace spam.
But according to Love, “Anyone can do that. When you pay big money to a publicist you kind of expect a bit more than MySpace comment posts.”
Musebox gave Love printouts of all its MySpace comments. When he examined them, he found messages to random individuals, including a person named April, the defunct local band controller.controller and about 130 others.
Evidently, Love doesn’t believe soliciting the likes of April was effectively spreading the word. He no longer uses TheMusebox. The company tells Web Jam it has ceased randomized spamming and besides, it’s strategy is much more nuanced than Love is saying.
MySpace also appears none too pleased with spam tactics. The company successfully sued two prolific spammers for $234 ?million in California in mid-?May. The spammers were enlisting robots to drop comments on random pages about adult and gambling sites. (MySpace could not be reached for comment.)
Robots often infiltrate MySpace by other means, too. Bots generated by marketers become friends with and repeatedly play the music of a given MySpace page, all in an effort to make the account ?holder look more popular.
It’s impossible to know who has a robot audience and who has a human one. For instance, a MySpace page for one local electronic artist consistently scores 1,800 to 1,900 plays each day before noon. That number trumps other Toronto acts’ plays by more than 1,000 and is comparable to those of musicians currently filling stadiums. (The National, a New York rock band that opened for R.E.M. last week at the Amphitheatre, gets a similar number of morning plays.)
The artist in question, along with a few other local musicians with seemingly astronomical play counts, would not own up to bot usage to Web Jam.
It may take a José Canseco-like voice calling out his or her peers to reveal who’s hepped up on performance-enhancing bots. But with robot forces omnipresent, the perception of using robots is virtually equal to using robots. And that could ruin the game.
So while MySpace’s early successes were built on the mass collaboration of users, the cause of its ultimate demise may be the mass collaboration of marketers and their robots.
Leak of the week
The unlikely team of Strokes singer Julian Casablancas, blog-hero Santogold and super-producer Pharrell create a one-riff Chuck Taylor promo, My Drive Thru.