Monday, February 26, 2007

MySpace Better Than Record Deal?

Tomorrow could be a slightly frightening day for record companies. It marks the unveiling of the first single of Tila Nguyen, who goes by Tila Tequila, on iTunes. That wouldn't be such a big deal if she were just a small signed artist who came along everyday.

It is such a big deal because she has used ONLY her MySpace page to get her fame and fortune. Her MySpace page where she has almost 1.7 million friends, which has led to newspaper articles and a Time magazine article simply about that. She has now decided to break into the music industry, and her single "I Love U" was produced by Lil Jon.

Tuesday the following question may be answered, is it better to have 1.7 million friends on MySpace or to have a record deal?

Ms. Tequila, a onetime model for, born in Singapore, where her family moved after the Vietnam War, rejected offers from record companies and is hoping that her MySpace fame can help her break into the business on her own.

“I’m very nervous because this has never been done before,” Ms. Tequila said. Thanks to online communities like MySpace, aspiring artists can “speak to people so much,” she said. “It’s not just advertising and music; it’s your fans really getting to know you.”

If she does succeed in selling her single without going through the record companies, her efforts may have long-term implications for the industry. But according to Eric Garland, the chief executive of BigChampagne, an online market research firm, it may be too soon to mourn for the record companies.

It may be too soon to mourn for them, but it certainly will be a big day on Tuesday if all 1.7 million friends decide to pay 99 cents to download her song, which comes with a free full length music video. When a preview of the video showed up on YouTube on February 16th it was the most watched video of the day.

I'm excited to see how big a connection is possible between social networking and music sales. There are a lot of people out there who would love to support her simply because she refuses to sign a deal, a lot who would probably support her because they think she's hot, and then the huge percentage of people who will just download her song illegally and wait until the music video is on YouTube. Because one has to wonder if people who are using MySpace as their source of finding new music are going to be likely to purchase it on iTunes, when they could continue finding free streaming music on MySpace all day long, or even just playing the free videos off Tila's MySpace page, some of which have her dancing and singing anyway.

Everyone saw this coming soon, but did they think it would be tomorrow?

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