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Social Media Rock Stars – Notes from the Summit

February 12, 2011

@chamillionaire I’m amazed at how passionate @adamlambert ‘s fanbase is. The Glambert army was everywhere today. Salute.

Chamillionaire and Adam Lambert at Grammy Social Media Rock Stars Summit

It was entirely too predictable that the media would pick up foremost on Grammy nominee Adam Lambert’s comment about drunk tweeting in their coverage of The Grammys Social Media Rock Stars Summit. Adam didn’t specify which tweets caused offense; we can guess what some of them might have been… But really, there were far more interesting matters discussed during the 90-minute pre-show panel, which was streamed live on Friday afternoon. In addition to Adam, the all-male panel included Grammy winner Chamillionaire, Facebook Director of Platform Product Marketing Ethan Beard; Foursquare Co-Founder Naveen Selvadurai; and Pandora Founder & Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren. The panel was moderated by veteran broadcast music journalist John Norris.

Here are the main takeaways:

  • Pandora, the internet personalized radio service, announced plans to go public and raise $100 million in an initial public offering. That was the real news from the event. Now numbering 80 million listeners, Pandora’s audience has grown large enough to let the company think about how it can impact an artist’s career, said Westergren. In other words, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
  • Social media is changing the music industry by putting artists directly in touch with fans. Chamillionaire noted that when you’re an artist, “you become public property. If your fans feel vested in what you do, that’s a good thing. You can’t be mad at that. The future is going to be direct to consumer. No one in a suit and tie is going to stand in front of me telling me what to do.”
  • The economic impact on the music industry has been disastrous to date, with large losses of revenue to illegal downloading. Internet radio could change that. Artists collect royalties from internet play, unlike with broadcast radio. (OK, everyone, run to Pandora and create your Adam Lambert/Chamillionaire station.)
  • Interacting directly with the audience requires a balancing act. “I’m entertaining an audience. It’s for them. So their opinion and satisfaction is most important,” said Adam. “But part of the reason I’m an artist is that I’m the one making decisions about what I’m going to put out there.” Westergren observed, “The artists who survive are the ones who are really authentic.”
  • Twitter gives Adam “a sense of control, which I like.” But it comes with a warning label: don’t tweet under the influence. Chamillionaire shared his experience when he tweeted praise of the Black Eyed Peas performance at the Super Bowl and was blasted by his Twitter followers. But, he is unfazed: “I like to be authentic with my feelings.”
  • Social media provide artists with insight into how fans are reacting to their creative choices. “I lurk to see what people are saying,” said Adam. He said he has used suggestions from fans on Twitter, but wouldn’t specify. “I’m not going to tell you my secrets!” he said, to laughter. “The informative aspect is the best part of Twitter.”
  • Adam noted (yay!) that social media connects fans with one another.
  • Foursquare enables people to tag a geographic location, with the aim of getting people to visit favorite restaurants, concerts and other gathering places. This raised immediate flags about privacy and stalkers. Not sure we’ll find too many celebrities on Foursquare, although Adam said he would check it out. (OK, do NOT race to Foursquare so you can stan Adam…)
  • Pandora’s Music Genome Project is an algorithm to find new music that a listener would like based on their favorite artists. As listeners get older, they are less likely to discover new bands (yeah, life happens), so a service like Pandora might help people stay engaged with current music. I decided to test this. I created a Pandora station with Robyn, Adam Lambert, Goldfrapp and a few others, and Pandora came up with Anna Nalick, who I do like. So far so good. But I already have a very effective channel to get me to listen to music again: Adam’s tweets.
  • “At a concert, everyone’s got a camera and video,” Ethan Beard marveled. “That’s really powerful.” John Norris concurred, saying “I’m in favor of anything that gets people to be more aggressive in their discovery of music.” Asked how artists feel about the unrelenting recording, Adam expressed ambivalence. “It puts more pressure on the artist,” he said. And he also had more of a spiritual concern that with all the recording technology, audiences are cheating themselves of experiencing the moment. “There’s something to be said for putting your phone in your pocket and just watching.”
  • Mobile is the most important way people are going to be consuming social media. And I’m sorry Blackberry, but you just don’t cut it as a social media interface. By the time Adam embarks on his next tour, I’m going to have to upgrade to an iPhone.
  • From the blizzard of real-time tweets during the event, it appears that 99% of the viewers were Adam’s fans, as were the throngs that waited outside. Chamillionaire has 700K+ twitter followers. Where were they? On the bright side, Chamillionaire just gained a pocketful of Adam’s fans. He was insightful and charming, and the inner geek in me melted when he talked about analytics. He coined a great new word, “Twota” = daily quota of tweets, which I’m sure I exceed all the time.

Chamillionaire: “You spill your guts in this music, and someone comes along and demeans it in 140 characters. Sometimes you have to step away from it. It can desensitize you.”

Suz525’s compilation of the Summit (You rock, Suz!)

Video clips from the summit posted at

5 Comments leave one →
  1. kms permalink
    February 12, 2011 9:36 am

    I’ve been using Pandora since this past summer and I love it. I too am tired of having to listen to the same primarily mediocre music on broadcast CHR radio and Pandora finally gives us the power to support the artists we love and to no longer be at the mercy of program directors.

  2. Vickie Rudorfer permalink
    February 12, 2011 2:00 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that the question they asked Adam was mine! I was so shocked and thrilled to hear my name in that context.

  3. buffy522 permalink
    February 13, 2011 1:48 am

    Was waiting for this thread! But all day long, there is this insane repetition of the tweeting while drunk! It’s kind of funny though. And I think it’s like Juneau/Xena have pointed out, one story gets reposted on a zillion blogs and news outlets. But to me the press has been good. And Adam has never looked better. I’m looking at some pictures right now at a party and he is stunning. Like a painting. but the media panel started out slow with Adam fans building in excitement. Glad the people on the panel seemed to enjoy it. And of course our dear Suz was there (can you believe it). “Chammi” was very together on his social media. And funny as hell. Adam was not as into the different sites (except for his secret Facebook, I knew it, and he looked guilty!) but he knows he connects with fans and had very pertinent input. I felt sorry for the guy who asked with a frustrated tone, about how to get out there without a label and just social media. Not much help I’m afraid. I thought Adam was going to tell his “insight” moment at Burning Bush and recommend Idol, since no label will get you, man. (It’s late and I’m rambling). Glad some fans got to ask some great questions and they were represented. Empty chairs. If one little announcement was made, more people could have gotten the free tickets early. I think they had to run FBI background checks on everyone who signed up early! (kidding). Hey and we did get stock tips to boot! I felt it was kind of intimate because it was live and Adam had to think and answer questions he was hearing a dozen times a day. So after all the other shows and interviews and more to come, it’s been a great Adam week. Why do some of us keep worrying?
    I would like to discuss the actual program more because it was very interesting. Maybe when I am awake!


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