Are you a groupie or can you get a backstage pass?


Are you a rock star a groupie or a back stage badge holder in this game of social media?

Andraz Tori was one of the cool Slovenian entrepreneurs I met at Webstart in Zagreb the other week. (His company Zemanta won Seedcamp Europe which would be a must have plugin for every blogger if some features where added *g* but it is already quite good)

He currently is in the Valley for SES and asked on twitter – as he should – if anybody would like a beer with him. Just that his follower rate is not that high, so this twitter question might not have the impact it could have. I not only retweeted the question but added some more information on my own twitter (see the conversation on summize). I noted to him privately that twittering in such a case is also about opening opportunities of answering, which he probably took to write this posting: Bubble 1.0, Loop 2.0?

Early adopters seem to heavily consist of (soon to be) entrepreneurs and ’social media advisers’. They/we jump to every new service, because of hope that by being active there we will get noticed by guys like Scoble or Arrington. Some hope to sell expertise if the service ever gets popular.

Consequently we (entrepreneurs) and they (social-media-*) mostly try to craft activities on those sites with a single goal of self-promotion in mind. We sometimes behave like schoolgirls at concerts, trying to get attention of the rock stars by screa err. twittering anything that might get us noticed. And sometimes rock stars invite a girl into backstage. The loop is complete and proof of success starts a new cycle with even more girls participating. Naturally this is oversimplified view of the affairs, but is it also too cynical?

No it is not cynical, as this very much describes what is happening: the rock star and the groupie, both in a symbiotic relationship – the one needing the attention, the other one in power to give it.

But there is one more type in this game, and that is the person with the backstage connection. Who sometimes deals with the rock stars but generally hangs out with the rest of the crew and reaps benefits through it, without the downsides of being a groupie.

Which actually is what I have been doing all of my life, without really having a name for it. Even in school days I would work my way backstage rather than scream. Seriously. While everybody else was standing in line during breaks to buy milk / sweets etc, I build up a relationship with the janitor who ran the shop and was allowed to enter backstage and serve myself, payment and access to the register included. Huge timesaver.

Nowadays I find myself rather connecting with the organizers and makers for example of conferences than speaking myself, with somehow similar results. Or relate my ‘wishes’ for applications to everyone but the rock star so to say. And when it is time, I also get access to the rock star because of previously build relationships.

Only when there is a real need I do connect with the rock star and in most other cases rather avoid them. I could care less if you are one and refuse most often to play the adoring groupie game – I respect people for what they do and not because thousand other people think you are cool. In the grand scheme of things the rock star is only one part of the big puzzle. And the people backstage kind of have both: the thrill and benefits of the concert while at the same time they are less demanding than the sometimes sissy rock star.

Andraz might have been a bit irritated about my statement that he should consider connecting with people through twitter on the screaming side, and it made me realize that I actually was suggesting the backstage path without making that clear. And even when suggesting that, it included for me – without saying – that there needs to be a no bullshit approach as well. Because those powerful people who can get you backstage and make you part of a circle recognize as the rock star does if you try to play them as stupid.

Meaning in his case: while I did point out in a stronger than usual fashion that if you are around you should meet him, I really think that this is a good chance to get some insight into the “new europe” tech scene plus he has a cool back story. Which means the twitter link to Robert Scoble and Loic Lemeur was intentionally but with purpose as both of them do videos and are looking for interesting partners.

I think it provided value. Otherwise I would have never done it – because I have no intention of loosing my back stage status.


4 Responses to “Are you a groupie or can you get a backstage pass?”

  1. andraz says:

    btw: the conference I am at is SemTech.

    I agree with your additional observations, but would like to point out that the thing to look at are not the strategies, but the incentives for participation on all those services.
    In this regard the strategy for backstage pass people is much more long-term efficient, but the goal is not that much different.

    Oh, and I meant no disrespect to anyone in the community. I am not irritated by the fact that the web world works like rock world, I just find it interesting. And worth pointing it out more explicitly than it is usually done.

    Oh, and then with all those services another problem arises: where to answer? Friendfeed, twitter, blog comment, email, direct twitter?

    But then again, the decision is guided by the initial goal. :) And the loop goes on.

  2. Tim says:

    Your Groupie-Status?

    In the Rock-Scene groupies will be selected by the gang around the stars. In the long run the life as a backstage-pass holder doesn’t have any future without the strong intention to become a star. You need to hit the big time to survey.

  3. Tim says:

    to survive (of course…)

  4. Nicole Simon says:

    @andraz ack. and it will always be the loop, circumstances may differ, but not much.

    Which assumes that everybody wants to become a rock star in the end – but while this may hold some benefits, I think the downsides are far too many. I rather become somebody of the gang – far less stress with better benefits. ;)