The second annual Social Media Rock Stars Summit rocked the Web this year, kicking off GRAMMY Live coverage for the weekend leading up to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards.
The Recording Academy invited the best and brightest players of mobile and music to have a conversation about how social media is changing the way artists communicate with fans, and how consumers interact with music. Hosted by music journalist John Norris, the panel consisted of Naveen Selvadurai, co-founder of Foursquare; Ethan Beard, director of platform product marketing at Facebook; Tim Westergren, Pandora founder and chief strategy officer; GRAMMY-nominated artist Adam Lambert; and GRAMMY-winning artist Chamillionaire.
The panel began with a discussion about the emerging popularity of location-based services and how they enhance the experience of the typical music consumer. Beard pointed out that in previous years the music-purchasing experience was likely to be more involved, with consumers visiting record stores in person, perhaps with friends. But today, downloading music is most likely a solitary experience, thus Facebook and social media applications of a similar vein can fulfill this void by making music consumption a more social experience online.
While location-based services are the hot new trend, there was some concern by Chamillionare that it could be "creepy" for others to know where you are located at any given time. Selvadurai and Beard emphasized that the privacy controls of their respective services minimize this concern. Chamillionare said he had a friend test out the service before he himself decided to become an active participant of Foursquare. The mayorship feature of Foursquare is what finally sold him: being the "mayor" of any venue displays your name and avatar to everyone who checks in at a venue. An artist's visibility is essential for spreading their message via social media.
Lambert and Chamillionaire shared some insight on how they use Facebook and Twitter. Chamillionaire said he uses both services to talk to fans, and often discusses non-music topics in order to establish a rapport with his followers. Lambert reported he is more likely to use Twitter as a personal outlet, whereas his Facebook page is simply an extension of his website. Lambert also said he had a personal Facebook account to interact with close friends and family, but a mole was sharing his private content on message boards.
Panelists drew parallels to tech entrepreneurs and artists who were plugged into their Internet fan base: both groups pay attention to feedback from their real-time audience in order to make their products better.
Chamillionaire said the traditional label model still works for some large-scale pop artists but it is overly complicated and frustrating for artists with a niche audience of fans. His ideal use of the social web would be one in which he presses a button and could send a message, video or audio clip to a fan's phone. Ideally, he would like to see labels adapt to the social media landscape, citing that an all-web or all-label dynamic is not optimal.
While all panelists seemed optimistic of what social media and emerging technology offer for changing the industry, Lambert expressed his reservations about being in a completely digital society and being too engrossed in technology, which make it difficult to live in the moment and enjoy experiences without the pressure of having to report and document it for social media purposes.