My friend Geoff has a little blog that he updates from time to time called, Monsters of MySpace. Essentially sticking small needles in the balloon of faux-popularity, MOMS really gets to the bottom of what's going haywire on this site. Before I go any further, I, like Geoff states at the top of his blog, have found some pretty cool bands on MySpace. However, the place is overcrowded with acts that are (to put it politely) worse than mediocre.
The way you join MySpace in the first place is you must have an e-mail address and a password. Yes, that's it and it's free. In other words, almost anyone can join and so many people have joined MySpace (34 million and counting). While I think the site is great for getting in touch with people that I know or know of through friends, trying to gain "fans" on MySpace is a big illusion.
These "fans" doubling as "friends" may have some interest in your music, but there's a catch. People may have heard of your band around the world, but are they really fans that you can count on? I believe that an act like the All-American Rejects or Gavin DeGraw really has fans they can count on their respective MySpace pages because they gained popularity with other channels (like TV, radio, video games, etc.). For acts that aren't really well known outside of their homebase (or actual fanbase), I don't believe it when I see a list of friends ranging from the 1,000 and up. The line in that Dashboard Confessional song, "You can list your friends/but you can't count on them," rings true in this case.
Not to toot our horn, but look at Ashburne Glen's page. Those 313 friends are comprised mostly of people that we know and/or people that like our music. I think that's cool because it's a more honest representation of who actually cares about our music. If we had 1,506 friends from all over the world, I would be skeptical of such a high number if we didn't do any other forms of promotion. I know a lot of people just add anyone to his/her list so the list of friends keeps building. I don't subscribe to such because I would have a hard time finding my real 281 friends in a pile of 1,506.
In some ways, the DIY ethic of recording your own music and promoting it yourself is pretty cool. There is no middleman from your soundfile to your uplink site. However, like I said a few days before, the problem isn't the machine, it's the man (or woman). Putting out your own music is an awesome feeling. Trying to push it onto people you don't know is another animal.