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This article was published on November 20, 2011

Google+’s secret weapon against Twitter and Facebook

Google+’s secret weapon against Twitter and Facebook
Drew Olanoff
Story by

Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

The proliferation of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter come mostly from success stories, and cross-over events with mainstream media. Once CNN started using tweets during live broadcasts, the platform was cemented in our minds as a destination to discover topical trends and real-time conversation. Once Facebook became a strong piece of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, we knew that the social network bohemeth wasn’t going anywhere.

Google+ came along, a little bit late to the game. A lot late, actually. Google’s service has a thing or two up its sleeve, though.

One of those secret weapons is Daria Musk. A musician small in stature, with a powerful voice and a brilliant ability to make a guitar seemingly sing backup to that powerful voice of hers.

How can one person be a secret weapon that could move the masses to take a second or third look at Google+? Masterful use of supporting tools and features, and leveraging a platform that doesn’t pander solely to mainstream celebrities. Google+ is truly a platform where anyone who wants to work hard can succeed. Daria Musk is living proof of that.

The tools

Google, and the Google+ team specifically, have methodically rolled out supporting features, that together revolutionize the way we interact online. Twitter gave us the 140 character brain dump, Facebook gave us the social graph, and Google+ has given us the action engine.

Daria Musk has amassed over 24,000 followers on Google+, using those tools. She released a song called “+1 Me” that catered to users of Google+.

Here’s how she did it:

Google Hangouts

Using the live video platform from Google+, Hangouts, Musk has been able to play hours of live music for an always changing audience. Consider what a musician has to do early on in their career to have even a handful of people listen to them play. Tours all over the U.S., uncomfortable dive bars, singing third and fourth in line to an opening act that nobody has ever heard of, and above all else, lack of money to pull all of this off.

Google Hangouts makes all of this free. Sure, its not the first live video platform, but its the first platform to have a social networking machine behind it. At any given moment of the day, Daria can play a “show” for hundreds of people over a period of an hour. Facebook has an integration with Skype, which only works for one-on-one conversations, and Twitter requires you to tweet out links to followers, with little hope that even a quarter of them will see it.

Photos, Videos, and More

With Google+, Daria Musk is able to share YouTube videos of her performances, share photos from when she did a live Hangout in Washington D.C., and more. The Google+ platform has an uncanny ability to let you embed everything into a stream, without it feeling out-of-place. When I use Facebook and someone pumps outside content into it, it seems like a nuisance to interact with it at times. Google+ has created a beautifully designed platform with all key features fully embedded and seamless.

Google Music

With the announcement of Google Music, and more importantly Artists Hub, Musk now has a platform that she can feed her hard work and newfound following into and actually turn her passion and talents into a career.

Google+ has a long way to go

Google+ still has a long way to go. Since the company doesn’t have to figure out a business model for the platform anytime soon, the team can innovate and listen to its users needs. Twitter is at a crossroads where every feature they introduce has to somehow set up the company for a future revenue stream. Facebook is also making many tweaks to learn more about you to make its ads smarter.

Google+ is clean, focuses on people and content, and has found a hole in the defense of other social networks that it can drive a truck right through. Musk is living proof that Google is building a service around people, which is the smart thing to do. The company is paying attention to usage patterns and success stories like Musk’s, and putting the pedal to the metal on bringing more and more useful features to its forty million plus users.

I talked to Daria Musk about how she got started with Google+, and how the platform has brought her a deal with Taylor guitars and thousands of loving fans who are helping her prepare her first album for Google Music.

Did you catch that last part? Her fans are helping her prepare her first album for sale. There’s probably a good chance that they’ll buy it, don’t you think?

TNW: How did you get started on Google+, and what interested you about it?

Daria Musk: This summer I was lugging my guitar amp through the rain, getting ready to play a dive bar in upstate NY, and my phone started buzzing… It was my big brother who lives out in California, he said, “Hey, do you need an invitation to Google+? Maybe you could be one of the first musicians on there.” I was like, “What’s Google+!? I gotta make sound-check!” Click.

The next day I signed up to Google+ and I saw this feature called the Hangout – A video-chat where you can see and interact with up to 10 people at once. And I thought, maybe I could use this to play a concert without having to lug my amps through the rain!

3 days later, on July 16th, I stood in my little make-shift studio in the woods of Connecticut and clicked start a Hangout at 8pm. And at 8:01pm there was no one there. But just then a face popped in, and another and another and they were from England and Sweden and India and Texas and The Dominican Republic and Portugal… And they said, “So are you going to play?”

That night I saw the sunrise in Norway through a guy named Martin’s screen. I saw little girls in Australia dancing to my songs with the Sunday morning light streaming into my studio when it was still Saturday night here. I got to tour the world in a night, and my heart, life and career were changed forever, in an instant.

TNW: What has surprised you the most about how people are interacting with you and your music?

Daria Musk: I had a wild and improbable dream of one day being a global music artist… My mom had always said, “Pick a dream bigger than a lifetime.” and “Don’t have a fall back, ’cause you’ll fall back on it.” So after singing, writing, practicing, pounding the pavement, paying my dues and believing… The first and most surprising thing was finding myself suddenly looking into the eyes of people from all over the world and seeing them looking back with my same excitement and wide-eyed-WOW!

They’re sitting there, countries and cultures and vast distances apart, but they’re clapping, laughing, dancing, holding up lighters during the ballads, singing my choruses back to me! They started requesting my songs! They helped choose my debut single, “You Move Me” and even sent in recordings of themselves saying the words “You Move Me” in their own native languages… So the intro for my very first single starts with their voices, not mine, saying “You Move Me” in French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Twi, Aramaic, Italian and more!

It’s thrilling and surprising to be a part of building, shaping and co-creating a whole new way of connecting through music that it’s totally inclusive, effortlessly global and moves us so deeply. I just had the honor of giving a TEDtalk (that’s surprising!) and 800 people were on their feet singing along with me and the G+niuses in my Hangout on-screen! The audience was clapping, dancing in the aisles, crying, laughing. Hangouts and music seem to be a game-changing / life-changing combination.

each wonderful interaction surprises me! I’ve been drawn by artists on Google+, I have tweets from people in Chinese, I have articles written in Portuguese, and when I open a Hangout it fills up with people from around the world! It’s wild! :-D

The surprises keep rolling in… and I’m grateful for every single comment, every moment, every shared experience. We’re crashing the music industry party and inviting everyone! :-)

TNW: How long have you been playing and singing?

Daria Musk: I started singing when I was about 9 years old, started playing guitar at 13 when I begged my mama for a baby blue Fender Strat and I started writing songs right away.

TNW: Does Google+ almost replace the need to tour the country with live shows?

Daria Musk: That’s a great question… I think both Hangout Concerts and Live In-Person Shows have really special qualities that are unique to each… I can tell you that I am personally really excited about the idea of fusing the two forums and experimenting with the first ever Hangout Concert Live Tour. Every single stop is a global stop. :-)

I ‘ve also always had a dream of making a global album by traveling to different countries, studying and collaborating with master musicians in each city or village, recording on-site and building the album track by track as I travel… That always seemed completely out of reach, but I held it in my heart all this time. Now I know people in Africa, Spain, Ireland, Norway, England, India, China through Hangouts… I think maybe it’s not such a crazy dream anymore. ;-)

TNW: You once did an 8 hour live show on Hangouts, how was that and how did you not pass out?

Daria Musk: The evolution of doing marathon-long Hangout Concerts happened organically in my first one – The Hangouts only fit in 10 people at once and about an hour into that concert, when I figured maybe it was time to start saying goodbye one person left and the newly opened spot immediately filled with someone saying, “There’s a line around the block to get in here! They’re banging down the door!” Word had spread on Google+ and there was a flood of comments on my page that I hadn’t seen! It’s every artists’ dream to have a line around the block, even if it’s virtual! So I said, “Tell them I’ll keep playing!!” So we started an etiquette of rotating the 9 “front row seats” in the Hangout. That night I played for 6.5 hours. My 2nd concert was 7.5 hours and was streamed live so anyone could watch from “outside”. 9,000 people in 100 countries watched that show live! My 3rd Hangout Concert was streamed live through YouTube Live – which inspired the new Hangouts On Air product by Google – and that night I sang and played for 8hrs straight!

Honestly when I’m interacting with everyone – singing and laughing – I don’t ever want to stop! Luckily I’ve studied with a brilliant vocal coach, Mark Baxter, and because of that training I honestly feel better the longer I sing! I don’t get horse, or sore or wake up grumbly sounding. ;-)

Growing up in small towns where I never really felt like I belonged, I also always daydreamed of finding people I really connected with in the world… I found that in the G+niuses on Google+! So getting to know them and sing for them is the greatest honor of my life! It’s too much fun! Having my dreams come truer and truer in real-time and sharing that feeling with people, it’s like we’re flying! It goes by so fast!

I actually had someone in Europe pop into that concert just before he went to bed and 6 hours later he woke up and on his way to grab breakfast he checked and I was still going! :-)

TNW: What do Hangouts mean to you and your career?

Daria Musk: It means where ever I go, whatever I’m doing, I’ll never be alone. I’ve got at least 10 global friends in my pocket, in my laptop and we get to share this adventure together.

I recetly took my first trip to perform and speak at Google’s Kirkland Offices, for TEDtalks in Seattle and more events in DC – I opened Hangouts everywhere! On the plane, which I’ve dubbed “The Mile High Hangout Club”, in my hotel room with the sun setting on Lake Washington behind me, on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial… I’ve got a brand new travel-sized guitar, the Taylor Guitars GS Mini so I can open up a Hangout anywhere, grab it and sing! :-)

I’m about to release a new single called “I Owe It All”, it started out as a gratitude song to my family for believing in me and supporting me for so long… But it had sat unfinished until my Hangout Concerts this summer. Then a new bridge hit me, the lyrics came so fast I had to scramble to write them down… “Suddenly I’m found in the world that you made, that I live in now. Suddenly I’m heard in the words that you say, so I’ll sing ’em loud, sing ’em loud.”

TNW: You’re crowdsourcing the creation of your artists page on Artists Hub, how’s that going?

Daria Musk: It’s been amazing! or amazinG+ as I would say on G+. ;-) So far everyone has helped me pick which photo to use as my main picture on my Google Music Store Artist Page. Although we decided that I should change it often for fun and also that I need new photos… So then some of the most popular and brilliant photographers on Google+ like Trey Ratcliff, Elena Kalis and Thomas Hawk said they’d be happy to do photo shoots with me! I’m so excited!

Another great help was in choosing me “genre” for The Google Music Store. I tend to call my sound “Fierce Joy”, but there was nothing for that in the drop down menu. ;-)

I like to think of my songs as little Trojan Horses… Looks like a pop song… feels like a pop song… just enough to break through the city gates (charts, ears, hearts) but once inside they bust open with melody and world-influences and unique moments and choices… So I thought pop? Nope! The G+niuses were unanimously decided that I should claim Alternative / Indie, and once I read their thougtful amazing comments I realized they were totally right. :-)

TNW: When does your first album drop on Google Music?

Daria Musk: The thing that excites me most about The Google Music Store platform is it’s flexibility and potential to be an instant delivery system for music!
I’m going to think of my Artist Page like a menu at my own restaurant! It can have daily specials, weekly sales, and special seasonal / in-the-moment creations! It will be a perfect platform for the real-time really genuine musical connection I have with people now! If I write a song inspired by a moment we share together I can record it and upload it and they can have it! So I’m planning some really cool exclusive content right away and it will all hit my Artist Page by Tuesday, Nov 22nd!

My debut, The “You Move Me” EP which features, “You Move Me” with the G+nius voices on it and a few other songs will available, along with that brand new gratitude single, “I Owe It All” and (we’ve been working on this all weekend) my first “Live Hangout Album” featuring highlight tracks from my first 3 Hangout Concerts including the laughing, talking and totally heart-busting moments we shared together on those nights! :-)

Google+ can win

With tools and features that don’t take a lot of figuring out or technical knowledge to master, artists like Daria Musk can take control of their own career from A-Z. From selling music, to distribution of music, to serendipitous shared content and searches, and live concerts, Google+ is the only social network that can become a user’s “home”.

Facebook and Twitter are machines where people are small pieces of data that make up the network. Google+ on the other hand focuses on the discovery of people and content, making the people the platform. It’s a huge advantage, and its secret weapon.

If Daria Musk can build a budding music career using the Google+ platform, what can you do with it? You could share educational materials, do live art events, raise money for charity, read poetry, or whatever niche you want to build for yourself. Google+ provides tools that give you limitless capabilities.

Facebook prides itself on astronomical numbers for “time on site”, but since Google has tools like search, YouTube, Music, and now Google+, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one place where everything can come together so seamlessly.

Not to mention, follow someones career trajectory and popularity in a series of Ripples.

Shoot, I can’t even see a tweet from before 7 days ago.

Daria Musk on Google+

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