I was helping to produce a seminar for musicians at the front end of the MySpace explosion -- this was a few years ago -- and a band pitched a booking agent at the event by saying, "we've already got 2,000 friends on MySpace!"
And the booking agent replied, "ugh, you're not one of those MySpace bands, are you?"
While you can make the argument that MySpace has kicked and clawed its way into the mainstream since then, talent buyers still have that attitude.
Because internet buzz is not the same as street buzz, as this weekend's disappointing results for Snakes on a Plane showed. All of that great hype and excitement worked to keep the disaster flick from becoming a total box office disaster. But, by Hollywood standards, it didn't fly. Hopefully, it can live on, like Office Space, to become a monster hit on DVD.
Now, look at a gig through the eyes of a talent buyer. Let's say she books a band that doesn't sound so hot on tape, but has a convincing booker and 5,000 MySpace friends. For her to break even (and for the band to get paid), she's got to see 50 fans in the door. On a modestly performing, targeted mailing list, you could make the right offer and get 1% of your fans to show up. However, this band's MySpace list isn't targeted, isn't organized, and is full of folks who love to click around online -- not necessarily go to shows. The band gets ten people in the door and finds it hard to get gigs in the same zone for six months because of it.
The critical thing to remember is that, when you're in the business of getting folks out to a show (or even a movie), the Internet is your competition. Yes, there are lots of ways that you can use MySpace as part of your overall music marketing campaign. (And if you're not using Bob's guide, you're probably just spinning your wheels.) Just make sure your entire bet isn't riding on the MySpace crowd, or you'll get some snide remarks from club bookers when you call to get yourself booked.