Five Bizarre Social Networking Sites From Musicians
Remember about a decade ago when every rapper had to have his own clothing line? And then remember about four years ago when every rapper had to have his own social networking site? Surprisingly, it turns out that artists from all across the musical spectrum have been impersonating Mark Zuckerberg for years, to varying degrees of success. Here are the five most bizarre examples.
NPG Music Club
Date launched: January 14, 2001
Before declaring his disdain for music on the internet, Prince was among the first to use the medium to bring himself directly to listeners, sending exclusive music and videos to fans for the low price of $7.77 a month. In July of 2006, however, the site mysteriously shut down. It's unclear why; some speculate it had to do with a trademark dispute with science textbook manufacturers Nature Publishing Group (a different NPG), but Prince's lawyer said that was not the case.
Date launched: October 24, 2006
After reinventing the mixtape circuit and scoring big with Vitamin Water, 50 Cent decided to give social networking a try with ThisIs50.com, which turned out to be quite controversial. Beyond hosting the latest G-Unit mixtapes, it became the epicenter for 50's beefs, namely his squabble with Rick Ross, wherein he mocked Ross for serving as a corrections officer and took one of his kid's mothers shopping. (The "Pimpin Curly" sketch comedy stuff was funny too.) While it offered message boards, downloads and standard internet community features, things got weird when the folks behind the site engaged in a very public feud with rival site WorldStarHipHop.
Date launched: August 31, 1998
At a time when people were still paying for email accounts and few artists had their own websites, David Bowie decided to shoot for the Stardust and launch his own internet service provider. Bowienet offered unlimited internet for only $19.95 a month and promised a personalized web-surfing experience. The service offered message boards, email, unreleased tracks and a Bowiecam to watch the man work in the studio. Unfortunately, after Bowie suffered tour-ending cardiac issues in 2004, the site became less and less updated, and the ISP service ended in 2006.
Date launched: November 26, 2004
It's hard to call iamnas.com a failure, because in order to fail, one has to try. At a time when MySpace and Facebook were just beginning to gain traction, Nas pledged to create "The Ultimate Hip-Hop Online Experience." Along with a promotional video (which seems to have vanished from the internet) that showed Nas extremely excited, the details of what made it "the ultimate" were vague. It ended up basically squatting as little more than a standard promotional site for his Streets' Disciple album, until he left Columbia and it began promoting his Greatest Hits album.
Date launched: October 8, 2007
In the fall of 2007, Kanye West sat atop the hip-hop world and had the website to back it up. Along with news updates and new music, it offered a store, a calendar and a SearchWithKanye search engine that allowed users to earn "Swag Bucks," a currency that could be exchanged for prizes. But Universe City's greatest attraction were Kanye's ALL CAPS RANTS that saw him insulting Bonnaroo attendees as well as joyfully reacting to being skewered on "South Park." With Twitter later diverting his attention, the site ended in 2010 with the launch of KanyeWest.com, a stripped down Tumblr-like platform.
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