Chester French is a rock band that has built an application on the Force.com platform. That's compelling for the simple fact that when a rock and roll band develops its own application, you know that the market is seeing a far wider adoption than it has ever before.

Even more, it's an important reminder of the advantage of building your own applications over complete reliance on a social network that does not give you access to the customer information that you have developed on the platform.

Known for its dose of "pop pastiche," whimsical lyrics and high energy, Chester French has shown enough popularity to get a record deal with Interscope and perform on the same bill as Weezer.

The band built a VIP application for its fans using Force.com. VIP members receive perks for being on the VIP list. The more they promote the band, the more points they get. Prizes include music and t-shirts.

Here's their story as told by singer D.A. Wallach. It's an interesting tale about the music industry and how one band built its own application to form direct relationships with its fans instead of being highly dependent on a social network site.

It's a problem that doesn't just plague rock bands. A hosted platform can be a bit of a trap. Often, you do not own the data. Application platforms may not be as open as we'd like but you own the information and it can be exported .You can't say that much about Facebook, which is lacking as a business platform simply because you can't export your own contact information. I asked Marc Benioff about this last week in context to how Salesforce.com is integrating with Facebook. He said it is the individual's decision about how they want to move their information around.

But what is the point of a Facebook application environment if the contact information you develop is locked up?

That's going to be a big question for social networks as more businesses move to platforms like Facebook. Contact information is scattered for most people. An application may be the best answer for companies when developing relationships for commercial efforts. Social networks are becoming important for business but their value is compromised when they suck in your customer contact information but don't let it out.