Face the Music

Last weekend I finally broke down and started up a Facebook account. My wife Trudy had started one the day before, prompted to do so by her sister who is currently based in Australia. Apparently communicating via Facebook is even easier than email or—heaven forbid—telephone calls and snail mail.

I have to confess that I knew precious little about the site when I first signed up (which literally took under a minute). Like most folks who are not part of the Facebook community, I assumed that it was just a site for high schoolers and undergrads. In fact, while it was initially only open to Harvard students when it launched in 2004, and remained a college-only portal for quite some time thereafter, Facebook has been available to anyone with an email address since September 11, 2006. It is now one of the five most frequently trafficked websites and is expected to surpass 60 million users by the end of this year.

But what’s really interesting about Facebook from a new music-minded perspective is how many people involved with new music have signed up. I wasn’t surprised to find my young composer and performer colleagues from the AMC there—Trevor Hunter, Sarah Hersh, Betsey Perlmutter, Gilbert Galindo, and Ian Moss, although they were all rather surprised to find me. But within a week, I soon realized that colleagues from music centers in Australia, Ireland, and Finland were part of this community, as were a number of composers all over this country, including Pauline Oliveros, Daron Hagen, Michael Torke, and even this month’s cover, David Rakowski! There’s even a special chat group for Pretentious Classical Music Elitists. Their back and forth squabbles about who the good composers are vs. who the bad composers are rival the most heated discussions on these pages.

But all of this would be just another composer procrastination exercise were it not for being a really effective way for a composer to make connections. I’ve already gotten two requests from people to check out my music in the last two days. So why doesn’t every composer get a Facebook page?

4 thoughts on “Face the Music

  1. danielgilliam

    Small world
    This blue planet gets smaller and smaller by the minute, and Facebook just helped out. I’ve become “friends” with people I’ve never met face-to-face, but with whom I have frequent web interactions. Plus, it’s great keeping tabs on your friends without having to bug them when they’re busy.

    Reply
  2. pgblu

    Personally, I wish my friends would bug me when I’m busy much more often. What are friends for if it’s declassé to bug them?

    I see the makings of a kind of “facebook ethos” in which no one ever bugs anyone else, they just poke each other, and the execution of the poke has been separated from the actual poking sensation, which a recipient only ‘feels’ when he/she is online again.

    I have been keeping up my end of a poking exchange with a very close friend for the past 2 months. We haven’t even exchanged messages! What’s next? Cross-platform poking of my MySpace friends?

    Last month I saw someone in the hallway at school and called out “Hey, thanks for friending me!” Just what pleasure receptors in my brain get activated when someone “friends” me? All I know is I don’t seem to feel those receptors anymore. Would they then still be considered pleasure receptors?

    Reply
  3. danielgilliam

    Look…
    If you take it that seriously, then don’t use it. I have sworn off Myspace, but I don’t think it’s going to destory humankind’s ability to be friendly. All these social networking sites, in my opinion, enhance human relationships, especially when staying in touch with 100 people from around the world on a daily basis is near impossible.

    Reply
  4. Chris Becker

    I think pgblu (?) makes some good points. I was led to MySpace by my friends in the so-called “indie-rock” scene as many bands at the time had taken the MySpace tools to promote their music, book shows and stay in touch with their fans across the country. I’ve found MySpace to be a helpful tool in seeking out performers and networking outside of my immediate circle of friends.

    But, ironically, I do feel that MySpace and Facebook can simply reaffirm for a composer their own narrow views of the world. It can become a substitute for the flesh and blood community that is not so easily handled and packaged (approved or deleted…)

    Has our audiences (not the online virtual audience but the bodies in seats at your gig) expanded as a result of utilizing these tools?

    Do all of your “friends” happen to look like you, share your opinions and or operate within the narrow margins of your field of employment?

    Is Facebook and MySpace just another way for us to remain in our self-imposed comfort zones reaffirming what we already believe and expect from our relationships..?

    http://www.myspace.com/beckermusic

    Reply

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