Before MySpace became the Mary Celeste of the internet, it provided new artists with a shop window in which to present themselves to the world. Its power was in its ubiquity – everyone was on there, and everyone knew where to look.
Though the options for unleashing your music to the world have only widened since, there’s no one-stop shop any more, especially as the dominant networks – Facebook and Twitter – offer limited means to share sounds. Bandcamp is looking increasingly like the industry standard, though it still has a way to go before it becomes truly mainstream.
British musician Michael Pumo may have found the answer. Yesterday afternoon, his band, Bearskin, had received 20 Facebook likes and 50 listens on Soundcloud. After posting a message to the music community on social news site Reddit, he saw an immediate, and dramatic, surge in interest: the stats now stand at 1200 Facebook likes and 32,000 Soundcloud plays.
As a result, the band have already been approached by producers, remixers, radio stations and promoters, and offered a place to stay in New York City.
Pumo posted the following message:
Reddit, this year my girlfriend broke up with me, I got kicked out of my house and a close friend died in a tragic accident. This pushed me to finish my band's 3 track demo on a shoe-string budget. It's not great, but I'd appreciate if you took some time to listen. It would make my year.
Previously regarded as a nerdy outpost of the web, Reddit is now a powerful news source, capable of sending vast amounts of traffic to those websites whose content gets upvoted to the front page. The aggregation site recently came to the attention of the mainstream media when President Obama submitted to a Reddit Q&A.
But is it now becoming a space for music discovery, as well as a source of meme-worthy links? I asked Pumo a few questions…
What do you normally do on Reddit?
“I'm what they might usually refer to as a "lurker". I use it for entertainment, discovering breaking news and cute cat pictures.”
Why do you think so many of your fellow Reddit readers felt moved to click and comment?
I suppose people resonated with the post because it felt personal. It may sound corny, but Reddit is a community of people – it's not curated by someone at the top who decides what gets through and what doesn't; it's a democracy.
You got a bit of stick from other users for including personal details in your post…
“Yeah, some thought I was using a 'sympathy plea' to gain attention. That was not my aim, I just typed out what I was thinking and never proofread it to see how some might then wrongly interpret that. It was actually meant to be a positive post!”
How can other people use Reddit to similar effect?
“Reddit welcomes submissions of any kind and people will genuinely take the time to listen to what you have to say. However, it's important not to think you can 'game the system' and have immediate success or exposure - the truth is that most posts don't get seen by anyone. Reddit has just the right amount of cynicism to see this from a mile off and you'll be buried into the darkest corners of the Internet if you attempt to play any kind of game. As I've mentioned before, Reddit is a community of people, so it's important to be an active part of that community if you want your voice to be heard. Give back as much as you take.”