TEXT OF INTERVIEW
JEREMY HOBSON: Taylor Swift sure knows how to promote her music. The country singer/songwriter is coming out with a new album on Monday. She’s already released one single, which you’d know if you were one of her four and a half million Twitter followers. She’s brought a new mastery of social networking to country music, and it’s paying off for her. Here to discuss is Pinky Gonzales, a professor of digital media marketing at Belmont University in Nashville. Pinky, welcome to the show.
PINKY GONZALES: Thank you for having me Jeremy. It’s exciting to be here.
HOBSON: I was in Nashville recently, and everybody was talking about Taylor Swift had attracted all these new young fans to country music because she’s so well versed in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. What do you make of that?
GONZALES: The reason she has that distinction probably more than many in her generation that are coming up now is that she was already active in Myspace when she became popular. So where a lot of industry executives, to put them in one basket, where they were trying to figure out “How this should be used,” “When this should be used,” “Should we spend any money on it,” She was already there using it intuitively.
HOBSON: Alright, let’s get specific here. I’ve got some of the recent tweets from Taylor’s Twitter feed. And let me just read some of them to you and you can tell me how these help her connect with her fans.
HOBSON: “Baking pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese icing because I’m very excited. Because a new song is coming out on iTunes at midnight!” Let me give you another one. “Sitting backstage at the Opry. It’s been rebuilt since the flood and looks better than new. Abigail flew in to visit. I like today so much.”
GONZALES: So personal. She’s having a conversation with her friends. And that is the magic. If you compare that to what, say, Kenny Chensey is doing, I would argue that Kenny is also doing a good job with Twitter, but his tweets tend to be more business. “This is playing on my radio station right now.” It’s more data and you can tell he has less affinity for the application.
HOBSON: Five years ago, nobody was on Twitter. Do you think that musicians are going to be using it in the same way five years from now?
GONZALES: I think musicians will be using whatever Twitter is in five years from now, but I doubt it will look like what it looks like today. When I started teaching at Belmont in the fall of 2008 I didn’t have a single student that was using Twitter. Today, 100 percent of my class either uses it or intentionally does not, but there’s nobody that didn’t know what it was coming into the class.
HOBSON: Pinky Gonzales, thanks so much for talking to us.
GONZALES: It’s a pleasure and an honor, Jeremy. Thank you for having me.
HOBSON: And better late than never — I’ve just started a twitter page of my own. It’s @jeremyhobson. My new life goal is to surpass Taylor in number of followers. So looks like I have 4 and a half million to go!