Sturgeon's Revelation

Beating the music business odds at SXSW

Meredith Chin, corporate communications manager for Facebook
Meredith Chin, corporate communications manager for Facebook

What Would Gaga Do?

Friday, March 18, 12:30pm, ACC 18ABC

Last July, when Lady Gaga spanked even President Obama to become the first living person to have 10 million fans on Facebook, the controversial pop icon celebrated with a small act of gratitude. She posted a 34-second flip-cam video to the social networking site, saying hello to "all of my little monsters" and assuring such creatures that she loves them.

"It's the really raw, authentic things like that that really go a long way," stresses panel moderator Meredith Chin, a corporate communications manager for Facebook. "It doesn't really matter what level you're at, if you're the biggest pop artist in the world or if you're just starting out. There are people that want to stay connected with you even when you're not in town. She's the model for that."

What Would Gaga Do? The question sounds better suited to be the theme for a cabaret party, the kind that abruptly ends when someone accidentally chokes on rosary beads. In an era when bands are increasingly synonymous with brands, though, the self-coined Fame Monster's the most visible example of artists using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to build their audiences and net worths, establishing a connection or at least the illusion of one.

If you consider users in terms of population, Facebook is the third-largest country in the world, and the fastest-growing. It's where the majority of conversation is taking place, a fact that every band should be using to its advantage. Through the site, artists can create a hub for tour dates, personal posts, and music videos or take matters to an altogether different level. Lady Gaga uses it for cross-promotional advertising – her page is linked to Polaroid and Vevo, whose General Manager Fred Santarpia also sits on this SXSW panel – while Katy Perry is using Facebook deals to allow fans to "check in" to her California Dreams tour to earn discounts and meet-and-greet opportunities.

"In the same way that the gaming industry has really transformed over social interaction and social design, we expect that music will do the same," Chin says.

It's a simple equation: more Facebook followers, more leverage.

"She gives me a lot to work with," adds Perez Hilton, also on the panel. "But I don't want to blow my load early. You'll have to come to the panel!"

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