Earlier this month, the multiplatinum Goo Goo Dolls took over another aspect of their career: They snatched control of their website from their record label, Warner Bros. While both parties say the move was amicable, the Goos tell EW.com that the old Warner-run site — which consisted largely of a few stock band photos, an official label-produced bio, and zero artist input — didn’t convey the image the rockers wanted their fans to see. ”It was what’s called a ‘vanity site.’ It definitely wasn’t our style,” says bass player Robby Takac. ”There’s a lot of bad information out there [and] sometimes even your label doesn’t represent you in the way you want to be seen. I want control over that.”
With the site under the Goos’ direction, a lot has changed. ALL of the content is monitored by the band — and as a bonus, the trio can post things a record company might not normally choose to distribute. For instance, there is now a diary called the Daily Goo in which the group responds to burning questions sent in by fans. One recent example: ”Does the child photographed on the cover of ‘A Boy Named Goo’ belong to anyone in the band?” Answer: No, he’s the photographer’s kid, and actually, the title of that LP comes from the Johnny Cash tune ”A Boy Named Sue.” In addition to the diary, Takac envisions adding photos of memorable moments — such as snapshots taken by the group during their 1999 plane crash — as well as un-copyrighted material from their recording sessions and concerts.
Moreover, talking to fans via e-mail on subjects ranging from obscure Goo lyrics to false Internet rumors (no, they’re NOT breaking up) gives the band its first opportunity to have unmediated interaction with its audience, says Takac. Sure, they get to meet a few fans at concerts, but that experience hardly puts them in touch with the full range of Goo followers. ”It takes a certain KIND of person to get their ass backstage and through security to just say ‘hi’ to the band,” Takac explains. ”Those people don’t necessarily represent all of your fans. This opens things up to everyone.”
As far as Takac is concerned, Warner was too slow to tap into the interactive potential of the Web — but that may be changing soon. It’s now becoming commonplace for labels to insist on having ownership of a URL whenever a new group is signed, he says. While Warner says it can’t reveal contractual information, such a move would indicate that labels are beginning to catch on to the Internet’s power to garner publicity for a group. Recently, for example, EMI became the first major label to release a large selection of its recordings for download. ”I bet you anything that Warner will release our next record over the Internet,” says Takac.
But that doesn’t mean you can expect to download the follow-up to 1998’s ”Dizzy Up the Girl” anytime soon. The Goos have just begun settling into a rehearsal space where they’ll begin practicing tunes they’ve been writing while on break from their summer tour. ”We’ve written a lot of new stuff, but we haven’t had a chance to get together yet and play anything as an ensemble,” says Takac. ”We’ve got no reason to rush. It will be done when it’s done.” Okay, fans, time to start sending those ”Hurry up, guys!” e-mails.