Thursday, July 25, 2013
Erykah Badu explains how social media is revolutionizing the music industry
A great example is her Sound Select performance this weekend, where fans earned a free ticket only if they promoted the show.
DALLAS Social media has changed the fundamentals of communication. In the world of music, platforms like Twitter and Facebook serve not only as branding tools, but also as humanizing elements that directly connect artists and their fans.
Red Bull found a unique way to intertwine these two aspects of social media through the company’s nationwide Sound Select concert series. Local musicians Erykah Badu, The Cannabinoids, Larry g(EE), and Dustin Cavazos join forces Friday, July 26 at Prophet Bar for the Dallas installment. But instead of offering tickets for sale, the two opening acts distributed 1,200 tickets so the “most enthusiastic” social media marketers could enjoy their hip-hop and funk flavors for free.
“Choosing fans who are active will make for a totally different kind of room,” said headliner Badu by phone Tuesday. “It’s a different kind of energy. They were selected -- it’s different, it’s special.”
Though she did not hand-pick any of the show attendees, Badu believes social media is revolutionizing the music industry. In the hip-hop community, specifically, the R&B/soul singer said the power is truly with the people, as they dictate which artists deserve notoriety and “make sure they are loved and seen and noticed.”
R&B performers like Drake and Janelle Monáe, she used as examples, were thrust into the limelight by their public following rather than record label executives.
Badu is a social media maven herself. Under the Twitter handle @fatbellybella (which she created during her pregnancy with daughter Mars), Badu attains a following of nearly 900,000 with whom she engages in conversation daily, posing questions and retweeting the responses she receives. The Dallas diva also has more than 46,500 followers on the home video app Vine, which she describes as an artistic outlet.
Badu digitally interacts with her fans in a way unparalleled by other musicians, though she says it's a product of human nature, not marketing. (Badu personally mans her Twitter and Vine, while Badu World controls her Facebook.)
In this 21st century, she said, it is platforms like Twitter and Facebook -- and concerts like the one at Prophet Bar on Friday -- that engage creativity and friendship.
“We learn from each other. We debate about social issues, politics, religion, race, art, sex, love,” Badu said. “I guess we’re just being basic human beings dialoguing.”
When Badu isn’t growing her Internet presence, she can oft be found in the studio. When we caught up with her Tuesday, Badu just finished a recording session, one of many over the last two weeks since returning from tour. She made no solid promises of an album to come, instead claiming simply and serenely that she is “recording songs.”
“I’m working on a new album, of course, all the time, since I was 9,” Badu said. “I’m in a really creative place and I’m curious what it will become.”
She's the queen of collaboration -- though she seemed surprised to be called such a thing. Her partnerships have been vast this year: In June, she performed as artist-in-residence with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in a show that “crystalized” her 2008 release New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) in classical form. British electronic producer Bonobo and indie soul artist Janelle Monáe, too, enlisted Badu for tracks released in 2013.
"Okay, so that does make me the queen," Badu said. "... It has to be something really special for me to [collaborate]."
Badu is currently focusing her energies toward Friday night’s show and said she looks forward to seeing Larry g(EE) and Dustin Cavazos live for the first time. She harped on the fact that the crowd selected to attend will make the concert even more special.
“They all have something in common: It was by fate, by timing that they were chosen,” Badu said. “It make everyone feels connected as a family, ‘cause that’s what we are when we’re up there. We eventually become one living, beating organism during the show.”Follow @tineywristwatch
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