CONNECTICUT, May 3, 2012 — Daria Musk’s success is what you would expect from a breakthrough artist. She has been featured in Billboard, on The Insider and in a Google+ commercial. Her first music video was just directed by Grammy-winner Chris Robinson (Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Usher). She is sponsored by Taylor Guitars and her last concert was seen by over 200,000 people.
How she achieved this success is not what you would expect.
She is not on a major label. She doesn’t have a management team. It’s just her. She is fueled by 1.3 million fans on Google+, an infectious personality, an innovative approach and an unmatched work ethic.
It defies convention. Social media is changing the music industry. It is leveling the playing field for independent artists that can network at the highest level.
Labels are not by any means unimportant. They still effectively serve and promote most major artists. Daria and other independent artists are still the underdog in a long-established industry. Yet, her success is proving that more than one path to the top exists. She may be the first to break through with this strategy but she won’t be the last.
Social media success is about providing access to an audience. This access is paramount in the rise of Lady Gaga’s career. Daria, the creator of Google+ Interactive Hangout Concerts, gets it. Fans connect with her because she will talk with them, laugh with them, sing for them.
Try and remember who your favorite artist was when you were a kid. Now imagine being able to look that artist, perhaps even idol, in the eyes and talk with them one-on-one. It’s powerful.
Read her responses below and you will understand why people want to engage with Daria, root for her and share in her success.
When did you know you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I truly believe everyone on the planet is here for a reason. It makes sense right? We all have a passion, a skill, a journey, a gift or something that we are here to do. I was born into a musical family, found my voice and my passion early. I loved the idea of pursuing my passion as my career - In fact it would’ve never occurred to me to do anything else!
Once you know why you’re here - what lights you up - it’s your work to nurture it, practice it, impact people in a positive way with it, and rock it every day! I knew it would take a lot of courage and bravery, enthusiasm and ingenuity… A lot of dedication, focus, hard work, practice and conviction… A lot of perseverance… A lot! And it has!
I’ve found my favorite feeling is using every thing I’ve got - every lesson, every moment of practice, every last bit of air, my whole heart - giving it all away, leaving it all “on the stage”. It’s the best.
My mama always said, “Pick a dream bigger than a lifetime. And don’t have a fall-back, ‘cause you’ll fall back on it.”
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
I think music and melody are hard-wired into my DNA… But I’ve also realized as I’ve had these life-changing experiences connecting with people all over the world in my Hangout Concerts - That it’s the human connection that is my deepest passion! The music is my vehicle to connect and express! Being on the cutting edge of using music and technology to connect on a global-scale in new and innovative ways is such a thrill!
So whatever I’d be doing I’d be connecting, pushing the envelope, crashing the party.
How is social media changing the music business?
In every possible way! It’s changing the way musicians create, connect with their audience, the way they share their music, it’s changed the fundamental nature of how we listen to music! Music is more loved and more listened to than ever, it’s become the connective tissue in everything we do.
And I think the amazing innovation I’m so grateful to be a part of with interactive, international, interpersonal concerts and connection online is really the way of the future. Being able to look into someone’s eyes and sing them a song when they’re in an Australian Sunday morning and it’s Saturday night for you in Connecticut? That’s a game-changer and a heart-changer.
What is your definition of success?
Fierce Joy. Crashing The Party. Laughing In The Face of The Lion. Those are all phrases I made-up to pump myself up when I was feeling low, when my wild and improbable dreams seemed so very far away. They all mean making a joy for yourself - hewing it out of the very fabric of your being - not because it’s easy but because a laugh will bust open the doors better than a fist!
Success to me is giving that feeling of Fierce Joy to as many people as possible! If I can make someone smile, or feel more brave, or sing or dance…to move someone that’s the best success ever.
How have you organically created such a large following?
I think a lot of people are probably familiar with the phrase “10,000 Hours” from Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”. It suggests that the high-achievers, award-winners, the innovators and iconoclasts of history weren’t born with any super-human ability, they all put in at least 10,000 hours of dedicated time into their passion or work. So I think, maybe my 10,000 hours clicked in.
How did you get started on Google+?
I had been writing songs and gigging since I was 14 years old. For years I was playing anywhere I could - coffee shops, little clubs and bars I wasn’t even old enough to be in. All the while I was fueled by this crazy dream of connecting on a global scale through music. I had no idea how to but I kept singing my heart out! Then last summer I was lugging my guitars through the rain to play a dive bar in upstate NY and my phone rang. It was my older brother calling from California, “Hey have you heard about Google+? It’s a new social network, maybe you could be one of the first musicians on there!” I was like, “What’s Google+? I gotta make soundcheck!” Click.
The next day, I signed up to Google+ and I saw this feature called “Hangouts”. It’s a video chat where you can see and interact with up to 10 people at once. So I looked at that and thought, “Maybe I could use this to play a show without having to lug my gear through the rain!”
Just three days later, with no fans or following to speak of on Google+ or really anywhere. I started my first Hangout Concert from the woods in CT in my producer’s little studio. At 8pm on July 16th I pressed “Start A Hangout”, and at 8:01pm there was no one there… But just then these faces started popping in and they were from Buenos Ares, Norway, Texas, Australia, California… And they looked at me and said, “So are you gonna play?”
So we laughed and played and I cried with joy and surprise… And after a little while someone had to leave and their window in the Hangout immediately filled-up with someone new! This guy said, “There’s a line around the block to get into this!! They’re banging down the door!” I had no idea that word was spreading on Google+ as I sang and people wanted in!
So that night I ended up playing for 6.5 hours as hundreds of people rotated in and out of the Hangout! Then a week later we did it again but also streamed it live so that anyone could watch, even as they were waiting to get in. That went for 7.5 hours.
Next one was 8 hours and inspired Google+ Hangouts On Air - A broadcast version of the Hangouts, which I now use. :)
I’ve done many more Hangouts and events since then, but in essence the way I “built a following” was just showing up totally grateful to sing for the 9 people in that first Hangout. I’m genuinely out-of-my-mind excited to meet every single person and sing for them all night long! I get to see their cities and sunrises and faces. I get to know them. It’s the most remarkable and beautiful experience.
What is next?
I’ve got a really exciting summer ahead with some amazing live shows (which will all be global using Hangouts while I’m on stage) and the release of new music, my first music video is coming out, etc. and so much more!
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