I don’t need to tell you to get a MySpace page. You already have one of those. MySpace may not have the best user interface in the world, it may be dreadfully coded and poorly laid out, and it may be owned and operated by the man who’s mentoring Beelzebub himself on business management tactics — but you still have to have one.

After all: you’re in the music biz, and that’s where all the people seem to be. Since you’re there, you might as well use it to your best advantage.

Judging by what I’ve seen from so many bands, labels and other music industry professionals — and going purely by the laws of probability based on my unscientific survey of MySpace music pages, here are some mistakes you’re probably making on MySpace.

1) Using MySpace as your website
This is the worst mistake of all, so I’ve put it at the top of the list. If MySpace is your online presence, you don’t have an online presence. MySpace is for social networking. It is not where you do your business. Have you set up your office at the pub? Use MySpace to interact socially with people, and encourage them to visit your own site where you have control over things like design, content and functionality.

2) Using MySpace as your email
One of the great things about MySpace is that you can send private messages to people and they can reply. This is not a replacement for email — and if conversations go beyond more than one reply, you need to take it to real email as soon as possible. The messaging thing is about establishing contact. Once you have a real contact, then treat them like a real human being — not a MySpace arms-length ‘friend’.

3) Having an impressive background image
If you have a lovely photo as the background to your MySpace page, one of two things is true. Either: a) I can’t read large sections of your text because it’s the same colour as parts of your lovely photo; or b) I can’t see it properly because it’s behind large sections of your text boxes. It’s nice that you have nice photos. Put them on Flickr. Leave your MySpace background plain so I can focus on who you are and what you have to say to me.

4) Embedding lots of media
Your MySpace page is not one of the TV channels. I know how to use YouTube. I have not come here to watch videos. I want to know who you are and what you do, so that I will know whether to (and how to) interact with you. If you represent more than one artist, and they all have a video, then set up subsites on your own website and direct people there. One video per page, preferably. If you must put a video on your MySpace page (Really? Are you sure?) then whatever you do, make sure it doesn’t autoplay the moment I load your page. It’s bad enough I get music playing the second I open your page. Nothing scares the casual visitor away like simultaneous multiple sound sources.

5) Writing lots of text
Remember – this is a place to meet people and interact with them. Starting off with a 3,000 word essay’s not the greatest ice-breaker in the world. Be brief. Be engaging. They’re after a quick synopsis — not a complete history. Again, direct them to your website if you feel it’s appropriate to make your entire autobiography known.

Remember: MySpace is a tool. It’s one of many. It’s not your only shot at engaging with your audience or prospective market. It’s an important one though, and it’s one that it’s very easy to make mistakes with. Use it well.

There are plenty of other tips for using MySpace — and other social networking sites too. I’ll have more over the next week.