A record-collector friend of mine used to keep a Saturday free every month to go into town and shop for new and used disks, at one of the many stores that catered to fans like him.
Most of those stores are now gone, victims of online shopping. His browsing these days, like the browsing for many people, is more virtual. And as a result his collecting days are limited, and he’s moved on to other pursuits. He still listens to music, but he’s o longer as avid a discoverer as he was of new sounds, new artists and artists who appeared on the records of other artists (a great way to find new talent is to search down a record from someone whose work you admired as a contributor to another artist). For my friend, the shopping was actually a social interaction with store owners and other fans he’d run into at the stores. He’s a somewhat shy person, but these excursions into brick-and-mortar record stores helped him get out of himself.
People can do that online too, but it’s different – there might be interaction, but is there real discussion? Fan pages abound on Facebook, but for all its might Facebook is less a discussion site than a posting site – you look, you “like,” and you sometimes comment, but you rarely truly engage.
But a new site, Fans.com, is hoping to become the place where fans of all sorts of concerts can share their experiences and discover new artists themselves.
Peter Shapiro, an independent music producer who is among the developers of the site, says in a New York Times article, “There is no platform for being a fan. Facebook was meant to be a connector to friends and family. But if you are a Slayer fan, you might not want to post about that, if you work at Chase Bank or if your grandma is on your Facebook page.”
For now, the site is more of a concert listing one, says the Times article, but that should change. The developers hope to capitalize on its database of five million concerts amassed over decades. According to the article, “Users can tag individual shows they have attended, and post media and links to a feed connected to each artist or event.”
And hopefully this will become a real forum for engaging fans to share their enthusiasms, opinions and counsel.
For those who lament the closing of so many physical record stores, and with it the opportunity to discover new artists and to recount their experiences, perhaps this new site may help them to recover replace what they lost when the actual became virtual as the internet replaced the boutique.[rps]