In celebration of the past 9 years with Myspace, here’s a look back at some of my favorite memories at the place that began as a place for friends that eventually became THE place for music.
Friendster & meeting Chris/Tom in 2004
As Director of Marketing for the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) & LA Music Network (LAMN), my boss Tess Taylor introduces me to Myspace founder and former CEO, Chris De Wolfe at one of our panels. As an active Friendster user at the time who started my Myspace profile to promote our Third Floor Radio shows, concerts, new music in our blog and artists, we meet and discuss the potential future of Myspace as a social music platform. I’m asked for creative input on how to bring artists to the site and we start by setting up one of the first Myspace co-branded events with the Black Eyed Peas in support of the release of “The APL Song” video directed by Patricio Ginelsa. At the time there were only 2M users on the site with a mere 126 registered hip hop artists, within a few years we reach over 200M registered users with over 2M registered Hip Hop artists, making it the largest genre of registered artists on the site. Third Floor Radio independent alumni are a big base of the active users but the site also boasts notables including Diddy, Lil Jon, Kanye West, Drake, B.o.B and many more including every top radio, club, mixtape and TV DJ across the world. I always joke that Hip Hop helped Myspace catapult into the mainstream and everyone wanted Tom to be their first friend, online and in person. The most popular question I’ve asked in my years to come becomes “Have you met Tom?” “Yes, and he is one of the nicest & most humble guys you will ever meet” is my typical response. The amount of artists and celebrities that wanted their photo with Tom always made me smile.
2. Specific Media & Justin Timberlake in 2011
Specific Media and the Vanderhooks purchase Myspace with investor Justin Timberlake. The site is completely redesigned by an amazing design, product & tech team working around the clock to make it happen. We premiere JT’s first single in over 8 years “Suit & Tie,” produce a memorable intimate JT SXSW secret show with him, watch side stage as he performs at the memorable “Legends of Summer Tour” with Jay Z, and accomplish what no one said was possible- a successful relaunch. Traffic and new users increase significantly, especially with the launch of the site’s first TV commercial that we casted starring Iggy Azalea, Chance The Rapper, Pharrell, Riff Raff, Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Hit-Boy, Sky Ferreira and more. We celebrate with a re-launch party with Pharrell and Robin Thicke performing their #1 single “Blurred Lines” that airs on ABC via Jimmy Kimmel that same evening. Miley Cyrus joins the duo on stage to perform, a foreshadow to her memorable MTV VMA performance later that year. Aside from JT, Vanessa Hudgens, Quincy, Ashley Tisdale, Big Boy & Rikki Martinez (Power 106), Kelly Osbourne, my favorite actress, Sanaa Lathan (Brown Sugar/Love & Basketball) and many more attend the exclusive private event which also include performances by Classixx, DJ JayCeeOh, Nervo and the infamous Tyler the Creator & Odd Future.
I become a Belieber in Justin Bieber in 2008
A very young Justin Bieber visits the Myspace office with his Mom and a few friends. He throws on a Myspace sweater and spends a few hours playing Guitar Hero with Earl Johnson and Steve Busch before we film his first livestream chat on Ustream but hosted from his Myspace blog. I watch after making him sing Ne-Yo cover songs live and thousands of fans flood the livechat, I realize how big of a star this kid will be. A mere year later, we are standing on the red carpet together at his first GRAMMY Awards appearance. We are both kind of in a state of bliss of how we even got invited to the show.
Jay Z: All of the lights. (2010)
We produce a Jay Z show in NYC (thanks to Chip Kanne) sponsored by DJ Hero the day before his 2 sold out Madison Square Garden shows in a small 500 person theater. During his performance towards the end, there is a major power outage and all of the lights turn off including the sound board. Fans cheer with the dramatic part of the show which they think is choreographed until the lights don’t turn back on. Fans start to boo and want to leave after 15 minutes of no lights or sound. Backstage we are running around trying to figure out what happened and try to prevent Jay Z from leaving. Magically as he begins to head out the door, the lights are restored, I hand him his microphone and he turns around and heads back to the stage to end the evening with some of his greatest including the ever so fitting “Encore.” Did we want more? Yes, we wanted more. Thank God for all of the lights, all of the lights… 😉 Fans that could never afford to pay the high fees to watch Jay perform win the free opportunity to watch him perform in the intimate setting. I’m in awe of the fans that we interview waiting patiently for hours in the street which include those that have Jay Z tattooed on their arms & named their kids after Mr. Carter. A great filipino DJ Neil Armstrong opens the memorable night who I don’t reunite with until 2013 at Pow Wow Hawaii.
T.I.’s going away to jail party f. Kanye & Rihanna in 2008
Hands down one of the best of hundreds of shows we produce for Myspace. T.I.’s probation officer accepts my letter request to keep him out past 11pm for this show. In true Myspace Release fashion, T.I. calls on his top friends to join him to perform on stage which included DJ Drama, Kanye West and Rihanna. I give T.I. a “Myspace Double Platinum” plaque for being the first artist to reach over 2M friends on the site and in true southern gentleman fashion shows his deep appreciation for the support. It seems like 80% of the crowd are friends from Walnut, CA while Kanye West premieres “Heartless” from his new album, “808s and Heartbreaks.” A few weeks later after his CNN interview from the LA Key Club show airs, T.I. goes to jail as planned, making this his last performance before his incarceration.
Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest) in the 808 in 2008
My favorite rapper of all time joins me in Hawaii not only for some great sushi, but a sold out performance co-produced by good friends, Chris Nakano and Dig Lifestyles. The heavy rain causes streets to flood around the venue but excited fans don’t let the nearly monsoon lose their chance to watch the front man of A Tribe Called Quest perform for the first time on the islands. Dressed in a bright yellow rain coat and colorful lei, The Abstract Poet takes the stage and instead of the typical event producer side stage watch, I jump into the middle of the packed crowd to recite almost every song which included new songs from his new album, “The Renaissance” and ATCQ classics in the middle of the crowd. Amazed not only that we were in Honolulu and experiencing this, but within seconds I’m back to being a big fan of music. It’s funny that once your favorite artists take the stage, no matter if you are 12 years old or in your late twenties, you can become an instant super fan all over again. Tribe is why I wanted to work in music and why I “fell in love with hip hop” in the first place.
Bruno Mars and his guitar in 2009
Jona Caberto is in town from Chicago and we discuss how a young emerging Filipino/Puerto Rican songwriter from Hawaii is one of the best voices we have heard in a long time. Thanks to Brian Dackowski, we get him to visit the office and he discusses his songwriting work with artists which included some that he met via Myspace including B.o.B, Travie McCoy & Far East Movement. The Far East Movement discover his music because of being in everyone’s Top 8 including the producers, the Stereotypes. Their career catapults as Bruno helps write songs off their first album including the hit single, “Rocketeer.” and my longtime friends FM begin to travel the world and up the Billboard charts.
Have you met Kendrick Lamar? (2011)
Shira Lazar who co-hosted the CBS GRAMMYS with me discusses her daily livesreamed What’s Trending show on CBS at the time (now on YouTube) asks if I know of any artists that should be featured. I suggest and we book guest appearances by Big Sean, The Game, Jasmine Villegas, Sean Kingston, Sage the Gemini and more follow but the most memorable appearance is by a young talented rapper we loved from Compton, Kendrick Lamar. Earl Johnson and the TDE family bring K.Dot to perform “Hiii Power” and this marks his first national live-streamed performance. One year later, he releases the classic Good Kid, MAAD City album and catapults to easily the #1 most requested rapper in the world. Fast forward to August 1, 2013, Myspace helps to amplify 50 shows in 50 cities simultaneously across the country. I fly to Detroit and it’s amazing to see how Kendrick has grown since that first appearance. The beauty of it all? Kendrick still has the exact same TDE team around him which includes but not limited to Dave Free, Punch, Ali the Engineer, producer Sounwave and Ret One. In added pride, Mike Green, our Walnut High School friend also apart of his team are featured in a XXL Magazine cover story together a few months later.
Pitbull, Mr. 305 transforms to Mr. Worldwide
Thanks to Semp & 305 Magazine cover interview, a young Pitbull and I spend time in a small region of Miami known as Little Havana. He discusses his plan for world domination and I can’t question his confidence that was supported by his rabid Myspace following and initial support by Lil Jon, who first mentioned Pitbull to me. I can’t escape from him everywhere in the next following years, his “Myspace” and Cuban “Rose-leeeeeen” call outs in his songs always make us laugh whether we hear them on the radio, while dancing in the clubs or watching him on a televised awards show or Myspace live-streamed Superbowl pre-party performance.
Graduation Day! Class of 2013
If I continued to write out every meaningful memory this would blog would become a novel so I’ll stop there. 😉 These last 9 years have been nothing short of amazing. When I first started with the company as a consultant, I didn’t imagine being with the site for more than 2 years, at the time, dot coms were frequently being created and quickly dissolved in a matter of months and I loved traveling to DJ too much that I couldn’t imagine being in an office all day. But, obviously I fell in love with what we were doing that I joined the team full time because there was something different about Myspace that made it more than just a typical job, not only what you saw when you visited the site online, but when you walked around the vibrant office. Myspace was your first friend that supported who YOU really were, your chance to explore and showcase your 5 to 9, whether or not you had a 9 to 5. Myspace was literally and figuratively your 24/7 supportive creative friend that made you feel like you could do anything you wanted to.
In the Myspace building you will find some of the funniest, sweetest, craziest, smartest and most talented people in the world. I thank everyone for the opportunity to work with you and travel across the globe working on launches of Myspace Latino, Mexico and UK with the incredible opportunity to produce over 200+ of the most memorable concerts, tours and events for our users/fans, a majority of them alongside my best friend and production partner, Randy Nangpi.
I now end my time as a full time employee with admiration, love and support for the current team that will continue to build and protect what we have built over the years and excited to continue to work with them on future initiatives with the artists I will work with in the near future. For the Myspace alumni across the world, I join you now in graduating from my memorable time at the company. After years of breathing, sleeping & eating Myspace, I’m looking forward to what’s next to come and work with all of you in the next decades of my career. Although I leave with eyes full of sad and happy tears, it’s time for me to discover and amplify my space outside the doors of Myspace. (Pun intended 😉 Forever I’ll be a cheerleader for the space and the team, even if I’m not in uniform, but standing from the sidelines.
p.s. Check out my 9 years of AMAZING Co-Workers photo mix HERE.