One of the world's great levelers is certainly the internet, and the music industry's great leveler has got to be MySpace.com. Forget all the high school (and junior high) hijinks and shenanigans, if you really look deep into its soul, MySpace is an incredible resource for the music journalist, whether they are writing for Rolling Stone or writing for their own blog.
In the old old days of music journalism, before the internet, to hook up with a band there were really only two ways to go: The front door, which meant tracking down publicists, promoters, or venue management, or the back door, which was literally the back door, hanging around at the clubs and venues until you could pigeonhole someone who looked important enough to get you in.
While I still use these methods, my most successful connections seem to be coming primarily from MySpace these days, and like as not with a MySpace contact I end up dealing with the artists themselves.
A perfect case in point would be how we connected up with Paul Collins. When I tried to hook up with him 25-odd years ago at the Dillo when they opened for the Jam all my attempts to connect with him and the band failed, though I tried both the front door and the back door. This time, for his SXSW appearance, I contacted them through their MySpace page, and I'll be damned if Paul the man himself didn't reply. Because of that MySpace connection, I did a podcast interview with him, and when he and the band came over we not only filmed an interview, they invited us to film their whole SXSW set! Now, I'm not going to tell you if you run off to Slayer's MySpace site and send them a message then Kerry King will send you a personal reply, and Sting is actually unlikely to be the one approving your friend request on the Police's page, but for the other 99.9 percent of the bands and artists online, you stand a good chance of connecting some way.
My thanks go out to Paul Collins and the Beat for doing the interviews and letting us film. It really helped make our 2007 SXSW experience memorable.