There was a time when bands would jokingly describe themselves as being "Big in Belgium", particularly if they had no discernible fan base locally. It's time to update that phrase to "Big on MySpace", as more and more bands are spreading their music and gaining loyal fans through the popular site. But while it's not new that bands are using MySpace to promote themselves, record labels should take note that many are finding it difficult to convert their online popularity to steady pay. The record labels are making a mistake by refusing to offer their services a la carte. If a band can do their own promotion, but needs help on the business and distribution side, then the labels should be eager to help out. At the moment, labels are skeptical of any band that claims only online popularity, citing the ability to game MySpace's friend lists. But it's pretty easy to discover what bands have passionate fans and which ones are just good at hyping themselves. Certainly, the music industry knows what hype looks like after all these years.
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