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GRAMMY Week: Social Media Rock Star Summit: Nikhil Chandhok of YouTube, David Karp of Tumblr, Kevin Rose of Digg, Pete Cashmore of Mashable, and Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars @ the GRAMMY Museum, 1/29/10

February 2, 2010

Being the geek that I am, I was actually most excited to attend this event of everything on my agenda for the weekend.

Social media have been key to the success that my site has seen, and this works in a multidirectional manner. I am a passionate fan, a hardcore concert goer, and in some genres, what marketers would call an influencer. The strongest source of promotion for me has been Twitter, and I’m currently growing my relatively new Facebook fan page. So those are the two sources for me to connect with my readers. I use MySpace and Twitter to connect with musicians, whether it be for interviews, guestlists, or just as a general source of news. It’s pretty powerful stuff, and all of it combined has changed my life in some pretty incredible ways. So I have a strong interest in this area, especially in the effect that social media will have on music in the future, innovations and areas of convergence between the different outlets, and I also have some strong opinions focused on usability improvements to the different services (twitter…..my list is growing!!!!).

Due to my involvement in GRAMMY Live at the time, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to sit in on the entire panel, but it seemed like I might get to chat with some of the panelists afterward. I say might because plans were very loose for the webcast. I was excited- I was especially interested in talking with Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, which I admittedly don’t really use, but he’s interviewed Trent Reznor before, and was included in the NIN iPhone app demo video as well. Plus he seems like a really smart dude and the Digg offices are in my neighborhood. I was also *interested* in talking to Jared Leto. Beyond having a decade + old crush on him, he has used twitter to do some interesting things with 30 Seconds to Mars- having fans contribute to the recording process, work on album art, and do treasure hunt type contests. I also know he’s a NIN fan (he was spotted at several of the final shows I was at), so there’s always that topic……yes, I can relate everything back to NIN in some way, especially if it has to do with pushing the music industry forward.

The panelists arrived to the GRAMMY Museum a bit before 2pm, each with their own mini entourage. The event was being streamed on CNN.com as well, so there were a lot of groups of people scurrying around and the museum staff seem slightly uninformed of what was going on. A kiosk with an interactive We’re All Fans display was in front of the panel area, and a few of the social media rock stars were included among Beyonce and Lady Gaga, so they had photo opps with that. We were getting close to start time when Leto descended from heaven, er, the top floor down the stairs in front of us, his tall hair nearly preceding him.

So with my minimal experience, little direction, a lot of technical difficulties, and an earbud in my ear for cues, I helped kick off the webcast with two much more experienced vloggers, Shira Lazar and Drew Hinze from the Recording Academy. A few people I know watched, and politely said I did ok; others, like my mom, said I looked scared and small in comparison to my cohosts, and didn’t get enough time to talk. Moms.

I sat in on the panel for about an hour of the 90 minute discussion. Besides disliking the CNN host’s attitude, I found the discussion to be a rather good intro for what, in my mind, could have been a day long panel. With perhaps the exception of the YouTube representative, Nikhil Chandhok, the rest of the participants were all so young. But it was refreshing to hear people so in touch with the realities of today’s music industry- people who realize that the old models are dead and it’s time to pick up and move on. I did wish that someone from MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook had been there, because those are the big three really…and Spotify, Last.fm, iTunes, and TopSpin would have really been great. A few more rock stars could have helped as well- Leto did really well, but it felt a little off balance between providers and end users.

I had to leave early to get set up for using phones to stream interviews at the reception afterward, which ultimately didn’t happen, so it’s difficult to report on a lot of the ground covered in the panel. Go here to watch several clips from the panel, and to admire Leto’s hair, and there are also some great pics here, from one of my fellow GRAMMY community bloggers.

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