Music: Fan Sites Today, Wikis Tomorrow

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The painstakingly crafted band website created by a dedicated fan could become the next relic of the Internet Age. That may be a good thing.

Two thoughts came to mind after seeing David Jennings’ article at Futurelab discussing the demise of the fan-built website: how cool it was to see a link to a Galaxie 500 site, and the devolution of fan sites from artisan-like creations to the swath of unholy MySpace creations we see today.

People who build websites out of affection, or who build anything else in life if you think about it, tend to turn out a higher quality result than the person who follows a template and drops elements into it. Jennings, in citing Galaxie 500’s huge fan Andy Aldridge, isn’t as down on the future of fan sites as Aldridge may be:

There are two big challenges facing the individually-driven fan site. One is the range of areas that one person has to cover and keep up with, from graphics to databases, and from coding to being able to write well and manage the online contributions of others.

The other challenge is that fan sites depend on individual commitment: having the time and tenacity to stick with the project and keep it evolving continuously. You do it for love, not payment. And without payment, any activity is at risk from changes in your life, like getting promoted into a job with longer working hours, bringing up a family, or just developing different interests.

We’ve discussed the difficulty of being on the edge of Web 2.0 and other geek concepts when real life slips you a heavy dose of responsibility. It’s the same thing for the ultimate band fan.

Jennings gave as an example of the future the ultimate geek band, the forward thinkers who populate They Might Be Giants. TMBG has pushed the envelope in what they can do for their fans with technology probably more than anyone (anyone else remember Dial-a-Song?)

"This Might Be a Wiki, the fan site for They Might Be Giants, is the kind of thing I have in mind," Jennings wrote. Wikis are collaborative by nature. They don’t have to be a one person show.

One of the major benefits of the Web has been its ability to bring people together. Doing so for bands from a fan perspective, and not the carefully massaged message of a corporate music publisher, ought to make the whole online band experience a better one.

Some might call that the ‘wisdom of crowds’ in action, but I prefer to think of it as fans expressing what they love most about the music that matters to them.

Music: Fan Sites Today, Wikis Tomorrow
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