They live online. They buy online. They play online. Their power is growing
The Toadies broke up. It was four years ago, when Amanda Adams was 16. She drove into Dallas from suburban Plano, Tex., on a school night to hear the final two-hour set of the local rock band, which had gone national with a hit 1995 album. “Tears were streaming down my face,” she recalls, a slight Texas lilt to her voice. During the long summer that followed, Adams turned to the Web in search of solace, plugging the lead singer’s name into Google repeatedly until finally his new band popped up. She found it on Buzz-Oven.com, a social networking Web site for Dallas teens.
Adams jumped onto the Buzz-Oven network, posting an online self-portrait (dark hair tied back, tongue out, goofy eyes for the cam) and listing her favorite music so she could connect with other Toadies fans. Soon she was heading off to biweekly meetings at Buzz-Oven’s airy loft in downtown Dallas and helping other “Buzzers” judge their favorite groups in marathon battle-of-the-bands sessions. (Buzz-0ven.com promotes the winners.) At her school, Frisco High — and at malls and concerts — she passed out free Buzz-Oven sampler CDs plastered with a large logo from Coca-Cola Inc., () which backs the site in the hope of reaching more teens on their home turf. Adams also brought dozens of friends to the concerts Buzz-Oven sponsored every few months. “It was cool, something I could brag about,” says Adams, now 20 and still an active Buzzer.
Now that Adams is a junior at the University of North Texas at Denton, she’s online more than ever. It’s 7 p.m. on a recent Saturday, and she has just sweated her way through an online quiz for her advertising management class. (The quiz was “totally out of control,” write classmates on a school message board minutes later.) She checks a friend’s blog entry on MySpace.com to find out where a party will be that night. Then she starts an Instant Messenger (IM) conversation about the evening’s plans with a few pals.