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MySpace finds a place in local business community

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Pub’s got one. Buckets does too.

Looks like the MySpace craze is catching on at 9,000 feet above sea level, as businesses, restaurants, bands ” even libraries ” jump on the cyberspace bandwagon.

What is MySpace? For the uninitiated, MySpace is a Web site that offers networking through personal profiles. Users can create their own Web page using photos, blogs, music and videos, and invite others to peruse their site. Not only is it a popular venue to reunite with old friends ” it has also become a marketing tool.

“It’s kind of a neat networking tool,” said Tanny Nanda, who owns the Grand Theatre Company in Winter Park with his wife, Kimberlee. Tanny created a MySpace account for the theatre last year, and included video clips of plays, a calendar of upcoming events, and photos of scenes and characters. The theatre’s main Web site, grandtheatreco.com, has a link that leads to the MySpace page. While many guests use the main site, younger ones, Tanny admitted, are MySpace users.

MySpace, headquartered in New York City, has more than 200 million users. The way it works is, members can find friends, musicians or companies on MySpace, and then “add” them to their site as “friends.” Others who then view that site will see the “friends” list ” usually a photo “and decide whether they want to add that “friend” to their site as well. In short, someone who wants to get the word out about their business or themselves can do so in a short amount of time.

“It’s kind of like a nice spiderweb of networking,” Tanny said.

Buckets, a popular drinking establishment in Winter Park, has its own MySpace page. The site was created by Rich Southwick, Bucket’s former owner. Juliana Feltz, who now owns Buckets, said the site has been useful. Tourists who visit Buckets have told her they came because of the site.

“I think it does help business,” Feltz said. “And that’s how we know a band is good ” we go to their page and we see messages from people, listen to their music . . .”

MySpace is a popular tool for musicians “especially small bands that don’t have money for a lot of marketing. Some of Fraser Valley’s bands on MySpace include Hunker Down, One Time, Ohm Tribe, Awnry Girl Productions and Claddagh. Chris Betty, bass player for Ohm Tribe, said the site works well for his group.

“When you play music, especially up here, it’s great because it’s a good way for people to keep in touch with you, see what you’re doing, when you have shows . . . and you can record new songs and post live ones,” Betty said.

“And, it’s free.”

Short of signing a record deal, bands struggle financially, Betty admitted. “Anything you can get for free ” including advertising ” is a good thing.”

Grand County Blues Society also has a MySpace page, and uses it as a way to promote its upcoming shows. It also tells members of the site about ticket giveaways and contests.

“It does work great ” we have a lot of locals tied into that,” said Cassidi Brickner, president of the Grand County Blues Society. “And a lot of our artists are friends of (our Web site), so we can see what they’re up to, and they can keep informed on what we’re doing. I think its a great tool for that. It’s a one stop shop for information going on all over the place.”

Brickner also has a personal site, where she has a link to her personal business and her husband’s winery ” including a video on how the wine is made.

“That’s definitely cool . . . People ask where can I get the wine ” they get interested in the product. And it’s a great marketing tool for people that have been to the winery. They can say ‘check out the video here.'”

But everything has a good and a bad, Tanny pointed out. Although MySpace works continuously to fix the problem, unwanted spam is a constant issue.

“Anytime something gets popular, you get spam ” weird diet pills, credit cards ” then everybody (on the site) is on the list and is susceptible of it,” Tanny said. “With technology, you always have to be aware.”

Another downfall? It’s addicting. Once a member, one can “spy” on other members by viewing their photos and blogs “without ever contacting the user. It’s a way to get to know someone without really getting to know them, and oftentimes, a person’s Web site is different than the personality they present in public. Web sites allow them to be creative.

“People tend to have a different personality online,” Tanny said, and laughed. “They almost have dual identities sometimes.”

Who else has a MySpace page?

Mary Jane and Winter Park have MySpace pages. According to the site, Mary Jane is female, 36 years-old, “open for the season” and her “friends” are listed as “Skiers and boarders…” She has 36 friends.

Winter Park is male, 66 years old, and general interests include skiing and snowboarding. Favorite movies are “Hot Dog,” and “Anything by Warren Miller.” Under the TV headline, it reads: “TV makes you fat! You should be on the mountain!” It also includes maps, trail names and new happenings at the resort.

Buckets is male, 59 years old, drinks, and has 236 friends. It’s headline reads: “It’s OK if you don’t puke tonight.” Apparently, Buckets is also single.

The Winter Park Pub is male, 39 years old, and has 148 friends. It’s headline reads: Winter Park’s Favorite Party Spot.” Current mood: Thirsty. It includes photos of the pub, visitors and bands.


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