I get this question a lot. Because you hear this a lot. And musicians want to know, because most of them rely on MySpace as an integral part of their online strategy.

Well, as much as it pains me to say this, I have to come back with the answer: No, I’m sorry – it still matters.

Because I’m not a fan of MySpace. Hate it with a fiery passion, in fact. And yet, when I compiled a recent top 10 list of music-related sites that artists NEED to be on, this came out as number one. It’s not relevant because it’s good – it’s important because it’s so widespread.

So while this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, here are three good reasons that MySpace is not just still alive and well, but actually pretty damn near crucial for online music business.

1. Over 100 million accounts
That doesn’t mean over 100 million users, but there are over 100 million registered accounts and there have been for a couple of years. That suggests that even very conservatively, there are over 10 million people periodically checking to see what’s up. You have to put your music where people can find it, and there are a lot of them here.

2. Music embedding
We all know that artists can have their own music on their own page – but most people completely overlook the fact that any standard user can have their favourite song by their favourite act on their own page. Make sure your friends are playing your music to their visitors too. Oh, and while you’re at it, change your settings so people can actually download your songs. Go do that now.

3. Default search
When people want to know about a band, or hear your music to figure out whether it’s worth going to your gig, MySpace is the first port of call for most music fans. They may not like it – and many of them don’t – but if they’re interested in hearing your music, this is the place they’ll look – because the chances are good that this is where they’d find it.

And while most people I know have moved their social networking to Facebook – or, for the more sophisticated early adopter – Twitter, Utterz or Pownce, musicians are still stuck in MurdochWorld, riddled with advertising they don’t get a cut of, and dealing with the ugliest and least user-friendly blog interface known to mankind.

You can use it for making contacts and connections, and I actually know people who do the majority of their business through MySpace – though I don’t recommend it.

It’s kind of nostalgic, actually
You can still friend me on MySpace. I go there occasionally. Twice in the last 8 months, in fact. But for daily social engagement – personally, I’m a Twitter user. You can follow me here.

So as far as MySpace goes — for now, it’s worth hanging around. But I can’t wait to lead the migration once there’s a credible alternative with enough critical mass to make it worthwhile.

Are you on MySpace? What makes it worth your while?

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Also of interest:
Five mistakes you’re probably making with your MySpace page.