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« Should the New Law of Music Absorption alter your music business decisions? | Main | The ugly man behind the curtain in music publicity... »
Sunday
Nov302008

10 Websites That Are Ruining Things For My Band

Depending on whether you choose to believe it or not, according to many people this is the most exciting time in the history of the entire world for independent musicians like me. It’s Punk Rock with iPods for a Download Generation that deserves a Positive Brand Experience and as such it’s all there for the taking, depending on what you chose to define ‘it’ as.

 

Given that we’re a talented band that writes great songs and have full control over everything we do, ‘it’ could be anything we chose it to be. Since we’re also lazy and entirely unambitious, the ‘it’ bar doesn’t even need to be set all that high. With a degree of effort and organisation, I could be running the operation of a reasonably successful country/folk band using only the interweb and my brain.

 

Except I’m not likely to, not really, and I’ve come to realise that this is largely my fault.

 

I have plenty of time to market this band, plenty of time to network with tastemakers and seek new fans and plenty of time to promote, promote, promote. Lack of time is not the issue here. Unlike a lot of people, I’m lucky enough to be able to earn a few bob and still have a lot of time on my hands.

 

In fact, I have plenty of time for anything I chose to set my mind to but, unfortunately, and in a nutshell, I’m very easily distracted by the one thing that’s meant to make things easier: The Internet distracts the bejesus out of me.

 

I’m told the first step towards resolving a problem is to recognize that there is a problem, so the good news for me is that the above admission means I’m already well on my way to a full recovery. The next step is to a take a look at the problem – to let the dog see the rabbit – and to give some thought as to what can be done.

 

This list, then, represents the crack–cocaine of the internet as far as I’m concerned. These are the websites and interweb doohickeys that are ruining things for me. If I can just stop wasting my time on them, who knows where we’ll be in a year from now.

 

…and I will stop.

 

I will stop, I really will…

 

1: Stick Cricket

 

Quite unlike cricket itself, this is a mind-numbingly simple game. The objective is to chase down the total set by your opponent. There are only four shots at your disposal, two of which are largely defensive, and each is operated by hitting a single cursor key at the correct moment. Score too slowly and the required run rate goes through the roof, score too quickly and the spinners come on to bamboozle you. I have lost entire days to this game.

 

See also: Stick Baseball

 

2: eBay

 

I hate being amongst large groups of people whilst they go about their shopping in shops. I’m also extremely stubborn, quite competitive and completely unable to resist any form of tat. eBay, then, feels as if it was invented just for me. If you are lucky enough to receive a Christmas present from me this year, there is a fair chance I got it off a bloke in Rotherham for £1.60 plus postage. This doesn’t mean the gift was selected without due care, or love, okay?

 

See also: Gumtree

 

3: Twitter

 

I love the simplicity of Twitter, and I love the economy of language required. Tony Bennett says that if you can’t explain yourself in 16 minutes then you may as well forget it. Tony Bennett wants to get a load of Twitter, because with only 140 characters to get your point across you can’t afford to waffle, and neither can anyone else.

 

See also: TXT messaging

 

Note to Twitter Evangelists: Before you go apeshit, I’m NOT suggesting using Twitter is a waste of time, I’m stating the fact that I waste time with Twitter.

 

4: World Golf Tour

 

This golf game is a total time-thief. Using the space bar and the mouse the object is to skilfully manoeuvre your little on-screen golfer dude through his club selection, to aim where he’s shooting and then to swing the club in an attempt to get a clean strike, sending the ball as close to the pin as possible. I play this for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours.

 

See also: Playing Golf

 

5: Messageboards

 

Not strictly a link you can follow and ruin your own life with, but I’m assuming there is a messageboard out there that caters for one or more of your interests. I’m a member of a handful of boards and I have friendships with people whom I’ve never even met as a result. I get free stuff sent to me, good and bad advice and a lot of laughs from some very funny and clever people. Many hours and days have been lost to messageboards.

 

See also: Links posted by people on messageboards, which I then follow…

 

6: Blue Square

 

I’ve never been much of a gambler. In fact, gambling is one of the few very stupid things I don’t do to excess. However, I do like a punt on the football. Each Saturday, and sometimes during the week, I’ll attempt to predict the results of around 15 games and Blue Square allows me to construct a ludicrously complex accumulator bet with my pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey predictions. Should one of these bets ever come in I will, at a stroke, turn £1 into around half a million pounds of tax-free cash which I could then spend on rubbish. I’m yet to win a bet…

 

See also: Daydreaming about winning the lottery.

 

7: Google

 

This is a double-edged sword. One the one hand Google offers a suite of absolutely essential tools and I can’t imagine operating without Gmail, Analytics, Reader etc. One the other hand, I’m essentially an absolute tool and can spend hours ‘housekeeping’ and ‘organising’ my Google universe – which is the online equivalent of cleaning the fridge instead of doing that thing you’re meant to be doing.

 

See also: Tidying up things in facebook, myspace etc etc

 

8: Reading about Football

 

I manage to spend hours regularly reading about football on When Saturday Comes, the UK broadsheets (in particular The Guardian and The Telegraph), Aston Villa fan sites, BBC football and quite a few others as well. I can’t stop myself and I even check them all daily during the summer, when there’s no football actually being played, when the sites are full of people gossiping, rumour mongering and constructing blatant and elaborate fibs regarding player transfers in a gigantic act of collective denial that there is no football.

 

See also: Watching Football, Talking about Football, Talking about Watching Football…..

 

9: You Tube

 

This has happened to you, too, I’ll bet. Someone sends a link to a YouTube video which I then watch. As the video comes to an end I’ll spot another video in the little sidebar thingy and click on it. As I’m watching that video my brain will make a connection with the video and a memory, and I’ll search You Tube based on that. This search leads me to another video and the whole sorry cycle continues until it gets dark outside.

 

See also: Actual TV - during the daytime The Jeremy Kyle Show and Sky Sports News are particularly dangerous drugs.

 

10: The Hype Machine

 

If I was kidding myself I could justify this one as ‘research’, but I’m actually finding this all very therapeutic so let’s put the cards on the table. I use the Hype Machine to listen to songs, read about songs and find yet more places online that will allow me to listen to songs and read about songs. I fill days and weeks with listening and reading and reading and listening.

 

See also: Playing vinyl records, Reading music magazines on the bog

 

BONUS LINK - The Lifetime Achievement ‘Wasting My Time’ Award: Limmy’s Xylophone

 

I know it’s stupid, childish and wrong but I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of this.

 

See also: Listening to Talk Sport Radio

 

******************************************************************

 

I spent about 2 hours, on and off, writing this piece and during that time I didn’t visit any of the above sites once. Honest.

 

I did have the football on the radio as I wrote, though, and that was streamed from the BBC website. Does that count?

 

Anyway…

 

Here’s what I’m going to do next: I’m going to carry on as I am for a week, wasting my time and talent with stupid stuff online BUT I’m going to write down exactly how much time I waste. I’m then going to add up all of those hours and see what the total figure is for the week, and then I’m going to cry.

 

After I’ve finished crying, I’m going to take the number of wasted hours and I’m going to cut it in half, and during the following week I’m going apply myself for those hours. I’m going to knuckle down and work, work, work. I’m going to be focused. I’m going to be a machine…

 

…and I’m going to beat my personal best on World Golf Tour, too.

 

Reader Comments (12)

Kill Your Computer will be the battle cry of the next generation of rebels. Let's hope they show up sooner than later. We could all use some real-life communing once the lights start to dim.

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterPat Offender

Crap! I thought the title said "10 websites that are RUNNING things for my band" and I was excited to see what helpful sites you'd recommend. Then I started reading and realised this was just a clever ploy to get the rest of us to waste time as well.

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Haha. I agree with Matt on this. After seeing the title I thought this is going to be one of those really great viral articles, that everyone will pickup on. Now I'm wallowing in my sorrow, thinking about the amount of time I waste.

BTW your football thing is eerily similar to what I go through. I know I can't stop it (except when Cheslea lose). So I'll now start doing some of those accumulators and hope that it pays off one day. I already have a neglected Ladrokes online account to use.

Lastly I've just googled the title with "running" instead of "ruining" and looks like there's nothing out there. Want to spend some quality time on an article?

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Charakupa

Oh yeah, I know that quite well! Thanks for wasting my time once more :)

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

@matt, @alex - Ok, hands up - I'm sorry for duping you and wasting your time. However, this was kinda the point of the piece. I guessed I wasn't the only one who had a problem, so by wallowing in my own woes, and in public too, I'm hoping others may take a long, hard look at themselves. I was merely trying to help, honest!

@joe - Hey, why not. If I manage to stick to my new regime then who knows what I might come up with. I'll add your suggestion to my 'To Do' list.

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Just gorgeous! I won't include the link as I don't want to be resposible for more time wasting but... you can add Tower Defence to that list!

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gibson

In my own experience, the applications I start off with running in the morning dictate the way the day pans out

If I boot up Logic Pro FIRST before I check email and interwebs, then I will usually have a good day of writing/producing

If I don't boot up Logic before 12 then it's lost - I am totally in interwebs mode

This is fine - if that is the desired effect. For me to have a good day of finishing off music I must boot Logic first thing - or music is doomed for the day.

Another thing to break the habit is DONT ALWAYS WORK ALONE - book days in advance where you and someone else will work on something, even if it is just you working on your website while someone watches and gets on your nerves - you'll still probably get more done

Basically, if you can't be left to your own devices without wasting time, don't leave yourself to your own devices :)

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterJulian Moore

Oh, and add World Of Warcraft on to that list. I can't imagine how many musician man hours that game is currently eating up in the world...

December 2 | Unregistered CommenterJulian Moore

The truth is so much better than fiction, bravo. I'm so used to "intellectuals" writing on this site about how you can 'theoretically" make a living as an artist... but most of them are only making a living in some other way (like telling artists how they can make a living, lol), Seeing some real scientific study on here is a welcome breath of fresh air. Kudos!

December 3 | Unregistered Commentercharlie cheney

My greatest achievement as a musician was to ween myself off Championship Manager. Everything creative I've done after that has been a bonus.

December 3 | Unregistered Commenterdunc

Shit. I just registered for stickcricket.com -

December 3 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I'm on the computer as much as anybody and get a shitload done. The trick is discipline. It's not the computer that's your problem-- it's that you let yourself be distracted.

December 6 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Hooper

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