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Music comes to us through a vast range of mechanisms:  MTV airplay, record stores, online playlists, concerts, satellite radio, Rolling Stone, CDs burnt by peers, and--increasingly--the internet.  The internet may well be the primary outlet for promotion, communication and commerce for the legion of bands dotting the world, serving as the place to sell and consume music (legally obtained and otherwise), screen videos, and network with fans.  Those prospects harbor great potential for bands, audiences, and marketers alike:  today, any garage band with a PC can record decent-quality music and sell it on their web page, potentially reaching masses that were unreachable to bands just a decade or so ago.  Yet, as with most of popular culture, the internet can be reactionary as easily as it can be revolutionary, churning out cookie cutter bands and rehashed American Idol fare and strengthening the marketing grip of the major record companies.

This exercise examines the complex confluence of advertising, community, transparent self-promotion, and musical and cultural expression that exists on band web pages.  Most bands today have an official web page that shares band news, provides music or video downloads, charts tours and band histories, and hawks merchandise.  These pages routinely attempt to balance, on the one hand, an image of artistic independence, musical creativity, and distinctiveness against, on the other hand, commercial interests:  that is, web pages are interesting unions of art and profit by among the most self-professed creative people, rock musicians.  Web pages have become one of the ways bands craft an image that is intended to reflect their genuine creative and social interests but still induce consumers to purchase (or download) their creative product.

In this assignment you will prepare a paper that examines a band web page.  Your paper will assess the page's commercial, artistic, and social interests and examine how the band's music reflects these interests. 

I suggest you use one of the web pages in the list below:  I recommend that you do not substitute your favorite band's page, if you adore the band you are going to have some challenges lamenting their web page.  If you have a band web page you would like to use that is not on this list, please share it with me and I will confirm that it is acceptable.  Absolutely do not use facebook band pages or MySpace band pages, but some of these web pages do link to supporting facebook sites, twitter feeds, and tumblr accounts that you can analyze as part of the broader paper. 

It isn't necessary for you to write your paper on a band that you already know, and in fact it probably will be easier to write about a band that's new to you.  Part of your mission is to simply assess the web page itself in the same way we assess web pages all the time:  that is, is the site navigable, does it contain useful information, is it aesthetically pleasing to you, does it have technical problems, and so on.  Ultimately, though, what you should do is assess the whole "package" that reaches you:  the visuals on the web page, the text, and the music.  Provide a clear and systematic description of the page's organization, layout, and aesthetics and analyze how this influences the page's message and why you have interpreted it in this form.  Examine how these aesthetics mirror the band's music: almost all of these pages include music samples in some format, and you should listen to the band after assessing their web page.  If your band's site does not have music to download, try spotify for samples.

Your can draw on whatever resources you find to help you interpret the band's meaning as well as the page itself.  For instance, in many cases you can visit other fan pages for these bands, which can be quite different than the bands' official web page (all the sites included below are the band's own page).  You could use those fan pages to help you contextualize how at least the most devoted fans see a particular band or musician; nevertheless, keep in mind that fan pages always come from the most committed fans and band supporters (or, in some cases, the most zealous opponents).  Some bands have message boards on their pages or on fan pages as well.  Some of these bands are well-established acts, but others are a bunch of friends still holding down day jobs:  in the latter case you could probably even email the band members to ferret out their internet philosophy.  

I've reviewed all these pages and tried to ensure they're relatively accessible, but pages can go offline at anytime.  Downloading music can also be slow, depending on the file size and format.  I've tried not to include gratuitously vulgar pages, but some may still contain visuals or ideas that you are not ready to embrace.  If you find a page that you don't like, then try another band.  I'm not endorsing any of these bands musically or socially by including them in the list.

Your paper should be typed and double-spaced (justified left margin) and AT LEAST five pages in length.  THE PAPER IS DUE SEPTEMBER 30.  Late papers will be penalized a letter grade for each day they are late unless you negotiate an extension with me beforehand.

Accidental Superhero  
Ani DiFranco 
The Aquabats 
Asian Dub Foundation  
Bad Religion 
Belle and Sebastian  
Camper Van Beethoven  
Cathal Coughlin
Children of Bodom
Drive-by Truckers  
The Handsome Family  
Mercury Rev  
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Legendary Pink Dots  
Paolo Nutini
Silent League  
Sonic Youth  
Strand of Oaks
Justin Timberlake
Tragically Hip
Widespread Panic  
Young Fathers

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Last updated June 18, 2014