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Social Media Rock Star Summit @ The Conga Room, 2/11/11

February 18, 2011

My first event to cover as the Rock community blogger for the GRAMMYs- my second year in this role- was the highly anticipated Social Media Rock Star Summit. Last year’s event featured members of YouTube, Tumblr, Digg, and Mashable, while this year’s panel would consist of Facebook Director of Platform Product Marketing Ethan Beard; Foursquare Co-Founder Naveen Selvadurai; and Pandora Founder & Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren, which represents the quick changing landscape of social media.

I walked into the Conga Room behind John Norris, the panel’s moderator, and in front of Chamillionaire– one of two artists who would be included in the panel. I was oddly excited about being in the presence of John Norris, someone who made me feel very nostalgic for the days when MTV was both cool and informative. Between him and Kurt Loder, I can recall receiving the news of Kurt Cobain, Tupac and Biggie’s deaths, when Clinton did something very right or sorta wrong, and many red carpet interviews back when the VMAs were something you looked forward to all year. I remember when a job at MTV was my dream…and it’s kind of ironic that this flood of memories would come at a summit to discuss social media, the very thing that is now looked at as cool and informative like MTV used to be.

After a brief introduction by Norris which included a mention of Egypt and how social media is playing a part in the uprising, the panelists were introduced one by one; with Adam Lambert of American Idol fame being the last panelist. Lambert has rabid fans that tried to infiltrate the front rows of the small room and were waiting outside for him. I had no idea that this guy was so popular ….but once he was seated across from me, I realized why. The guy has perfect eye makeup and nails.

There are some clips from the panel below that cover a lot of the topics from the stimulating discussion. I think what it comes down to- and this is something I had been thinking about before going into the summit- is that we’re finally about to let go of the old way of doing things. It’s been 10 years since Napster started to shake the industry, then we all got iPods, Friendster gave way to MySpace gave way to Facebook, and then we became Twitterers and Tumblers and smartphone users with Foursquare. It all started as a fun little thing that began to pull in serious numbers and share of time with consumers, which then led to an industry wide freak out where the oldsters bemoaned that their systems no longer worked. So the business has been depressed the last few years, crying about how things will never be the same.

But wait. Look at all of these cool tools we have now! What if we all just stopped bitching and started really thinking about how to use these things? We are never going to go back to the old way, so let’s pick up and move forward. The consumers are ready and waiting. Artists are starting to embrace it more and more. It’s the middle men who are floundering. It’s time to get up, dust off, and get to innovating.

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the summit:

1. Mobile is where it’s at and where it’s going: instant gratification and “content snacking” are important here
2. Personalization is mandatory. Interactive media doesn’t make sense without it.
3. Authenticity comes out more now, it’s going to be harder to fake it. Can’t you tell when an artist writes their own twitter versus a ghost writer?
4. Balance: there’s such a thing as taking too much feedback; never forget that you are the artist.
5. Control and ownership: artists can go directly to the consumer and they like it….to a point. Fans feel like they have a role in helping artists get where they are now.

I’ll leave you with this one anecdote that Westergren told us: a small child crawls up to the TV and tries to swipe the screen. This is the future.

Also, we all left with crushes on Chamillionaire.


  1. Great post HRC. I was also struck by how fame renders a great two-way dialogue made possible by social media back to a nearly one-way channel. Stalking and other varieties of mania seem to cause celebrities to still revert to a top down, mediated message.

  2. It doesn't happen often that I feel compelled to comment. Just so you know, where this is coming from, I wouldn’t consider myself a “rabid fan" instead just a relatively normal fan of Adam Lambert’s incredible vocal ability. Adam, to his credit, is always very patient, tolerant and appreciative of his fans. He knows exactly where he would be without them. Of course, being impeccably put together doesn’t hurt his popularity but Adam Lambert brought more to this Summit than perfect eye makeup and nails. He is intelligent and well-spoken. Perhaps you should consider following him on Twitter. He makes very good use of it to connect with his fans. Search @adamlambert after he tweets and have a look at the sheer volume of responses. And maybe even download some of his music. “Soaked” from his Acoustic Live! – EP is a good start. Then perhaps you’ll really understand why he’s such a popular guy.

    1. I know, honey, I was just making a joke. He spoke to all of your points above. I was just surprised by *that* kind of female response…I haven't seen that kind of reaction to someone in quite a long time….which, in my line of work, is pretty surprising!

      1. I fully realize your “eye makeup and nails” comment was meant as a joke. I didn’t find it funny, thus my original comment. And calling me “honey” in your response, not at all professional on your part.

        1. I apologize for offending you….that's just my writing style! This is an unfiltered personal blog, for better or for worse 🙂

          1. Thank you for the apology. And I hope you can see past my coments and check out Adam's music. More to the rock genre would be Sure Fire Winners on i-Tunes or his cover of Whole Lotta Love (the version from Club Nokia in December) on youtube. Adam has a group of fans very devoted to seeing him succeed.I hope that perhaps you may become a fan as well.

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