August 14 2013 http://www.one.org/us/2013/08/14/two-more-youtubers-get-voted-onto-our-agit8-album-who-else-will-you-support/
Join the fight against extreme poverty.
Come Together is part of our agit8 campaign, and has invited 11 of YouTube’s biggest and brightest music stars to record protest songs.
They are hoping you will like their song enough to hit ‘Support’ because when they reach 1000 votes, they get a place on our agit8 Spotify album alongside acts like will.i.am, Muse and Bruce Springsteen.
We’re excited to announce that two more artists have just passed the 1000 votes mark – well done Ryan Van Sickle and Heather Fay!
This interview, conducted by Rick Goetz, was originally posted as “Relationship Marketing Strategies on Google+” on MusicianCoaching.com. Reprinted with permission.
Heather Fay is a Connecticut-based singer/songwriter who has gained recognition for being one of the first musicians to use the “Hangouts On Air” platform on Google+ (AKA Google Plus) to build a global audience for her music. In addition to performing Hangout concerts for her nearly 200,000 followers, she hosts a series of open-mic Google Hangouts, which enable her to build an ever-growing network of musicians from around the world. Heather also plays shows in CT and New York City at venues including Rockwood Music Hall and the Living Room.
What have your experiences been with marketing and promotion? It sounds like a majority of your music marketing strategy has been online based. Social media and online platforms really lend themselves beautifully to someone who is a mother aside from being an artist. I’m not 20-years old and I can’t jump into a van with my band and tour the country for months on end to build an audience. Being a mom and a wife, I’m at a different stage in my life than a lot of musicians who are just coming into their own.
I started by working with MySpace and submitting to internet radio and doing some things with Facebook. I really am not great at Twitter, but I’ve been working on it. And there has definitely been an audience in these places, but it wasn’t until I started using Google+ that it really felt like the right timing, right people and the right phase in my career. That has been the platform for me, especially because of the Hangouts. The Hangouts allow me to play a show face to face.
How many people can see you play through that? Google+ now has the “On Air” function, so I can hit a button, and I’m broadcasting to anyone on Google+ in the world who has the link and has my page. I think there are a few countries that don’t yet have the On Air capability. But I’m playing to people in Japan, Australia, Europe, India and all over. I can play a show while my kids are napping and reach a global audience.
Many musicians have claimed that Google+ is not necessarily revolutionary. Why do you think this platform has worked so well for you? There are a few reasons I think it’s worked well. First of all, people come to Google+ and put their content up, thinking that’s going to be enough. But the communities on Google+ are a little different from how they are on other social media platforms. Because they allow engagement and conversation, you really need to build relationships. So, you have to actually work at it. You have to have conversations with people and spend time in Hangouts meeting new people. You really have to put yourself out there and be involved and interested in what other people are doing. You can’t just sign up like you might on Facebook, put your music up there, sit back and see what happens. The platform just doesn’t work that way.
And Google+ has recognized you as someone who is using it well. I got on there right when it first started. And I was reluctant at first, because it just felt like one more thing I had to do on top of Facebook and everything else. But within the first week or two, I saw potential with the Hangouts and just really threw myself into it. As they were testing new features, I volunteered to help test them. And I think Google is looking for people who will use this platform in interesting ways, so being one of the first musicians on there, I had an advantage. I think they’ve really recognized how much it has been helping me.
In terms of numbers, I have 155,000 people, and growing in my circles. I know a lot of people say Google+ is a ghost town, but I am continuously reaching new fans from all over the world. It kind of blows my mind. A global audience is not something I ever thought I’d have.
Another thing I did when I first started using Hangouts is connect to other musicians in some meaningful ways. I really wanted to use Google+ to reach out to other musicians, because I just thought it would really be cool to start conversations with them and build a global network of other people like me. So, I started an “open-mic” hangout and invited other musicians so we could share our music. And I broadcast it, so I’m not only showcasing my music but other people’s music. It has built a real community, and I really would refer to that as the biggest mark I’ve made on the platform. I’ve played shows with musicians I’ve never met in person. And now I know that if I ever have the money to do a European or world tour, I have friends to gig swap with.
That’s another thing about being an independent musician: without this, I wouldn’t know where to start when looking for places to play around the world or musicians to play shows with if I were to tour. Now because of this, I have musician friends that can share booking information with me, and I can share my resources with them if they ever come to New York City.
Has your success on Google+ been based entirely on your participation in the different communities, or have you noticed specific things you need to do with details like profile design, etc. to get noticed? In my opinion, the community scene is very visual. For example, there’s a huge photography and art community, so the whole platform is set up very visually. You open up your stream, and there are a lot of images going by. I’ve noticed that when you write something as an update, if you add a cool photo, people tend to be more interested than if you just put up text.
But also, content is incredibly important. I actually share who I am on Google+. On Facebook, I keep my identities very separate. There’s “HeatherFayMusic,” and then there’s my personal profile. But on Google+, I feel compelled to share who I am with total strangers. I’m of course cautious with what I present. But if I’m having a hard time juggling the kids and my music career on any given day, that is part of my journey as a musician. I am a mom and an artist, and sometimes that is hard. So, that might mean I post a morning photo of cereal spilled all over the kitchen with a comment about not having time to practice.
I think because of the Hangouts platform and that fact that you can build relationships so easily, it’s a really compelling experience. For instance, if I am having a real conversation with someone in Hangouts, they want to know who I am outside of just music. If I am being myself and sharing my story, people in my circles will be that much more invested in my success. I am able to build a stronger connection, because I can actually talk to people one-on-one and build a fan base with real interactions. And I think my fans really become invested in me.
Is there anything you can point to that you did on Google+ consistently that other musicians didn’t do that has made you successful? I think the “open mic” Hangout was really the unique thing I did that didn’t exist before, but that other people really wanted. I think people enjoy sitting back and seeing who else is out there. I think that particular Hangout was what gave me a name on Google+.
Did that provide you with a good opportunity to market yourself to those other musicians’ fan bases? I think so, and vice versa. Because, we would feature a musician as well on the open mic. So, we’d give someone more songs than everyone else one night and talk to them a little bit so everyone watching and participating could get to know them. There is a huge crossover of similar fans if you look at the circles of all the people that have participated in the open mics. And it makes you wonder if people feel like they have to ultimately choose their favorite artist – if there would be some sort of rivalry going on. But the community is really supportive of everyone, so there’s no need for anyone to play favorites. It’s really open to all different types of music.
You’re walking down a city street late one evening after catching a special screening at your local movie theatre.
You pass a convenience store. Nothing interesting there, and you stroll on.
The sound of a muffled crowd gets louder and louder. “Someone’s having a good time”, you think. The muffles become claps. The claps become cheers.
You hear a string of words, then the clinking of glasses. You hear the most sensual sound coming from between the applauses. You hear a bossa nova guitarist. You hear what seems like the greatest guitarist you’ve ever heard.
You reach the outside of the bar. You look in, and that large crowd is just a handful of folk. “Intimate”, you think. But no. You peer in further, and the guitarist is playing his heart out. You look closely, and that crowd is deep in conversation, almost oblivious to the genius that is there before them. Only when the music stops do they turn around and start clapping as if an after thought once the silence sets in. The guitarist starts again, and he plays some more. They return to their conversation, and greatness goes unnoticed.
You, seeing all you needed to see, pass on by into the night.
Heather Fay does not let this happen. Her audience are so appreciative, that they will take time out their day, and listen to her live whilst you watch them do so.
SINGER, SONG WRITER & CHAMPION OF GOOGLE HANGOUT CONCERTS
It all started with Rick Goetz’ candid interview with Heather Fay onmusiciancoaching.com. That’s how she caught my attention.
Heather Fay has as of 8PM GMT on August 19th, 230,021 followers or “circlers” on Google Plus. That’s amazing! To put that in perspective, taking a look at the Billboard Folk Album’s Charts right now, out of the Top 5, The Lumineers can’t even be found with their own presence on Google+, and only Ed Sheeran comes close, a young and exciting artist with 207,197 circlers, more than 20,000 folks less. That’s a lot of folks, right.
Heather Fay stands in stark contrast to that bossa nova guitarist performing to an apathetic audience. Her audiences, on the other hand, are infectious. She consistently seems to have an appreciative crowd, all willing to listen and watch her perform, publically too.
It’s human nature, to be curious about large crowds huddled together. You walk down the street, see a crowd forming, and two things are possible. Something interesting, or something troublesome is happening. That curiousity makes you want to find out. That attracts more and more people to check out what’s going on. She cleverly uses that to her advantage with one of those Google Hangouts.
In fact, Google+ Hangouts, is one reason why she stands out. Yes, her lyrics touch a chord, like in her song, “Breaking My Heart“. But how many songs have you heard where the words or the music were so beautiful from an artist you’ve never heard of, and they never got that song past you, their friends, their family and their living room.
“Many musicians have kept an eye on Google+ to see if it would be a platform worth utilizing to evangelize and keep fans updated with their latest news. Unfortunately, some new stats may make musicians think twice about spending their time on the new social platform.” - blog.mybandpromotion.com
Heather was one of the first artists to go against the grain and the opinion that Google+ isn’t for musical talent. She uses Google+ Hangouts in new and ingenious ways that the musical, business and digital media all pay attention to. A great by-product of that attention is the spread of her and her music to folk who wouldn’t have discovered all that she’s about, at least so soon.
She was also part of a H.I.R.L. event, “Hangouts In Real Life”, which does sound strange, but it attracted a crowd who had experienced hangouts together online. She was one of the first to hold an open mic session with other musicians from around the world using the Google Hangout technology, that Google asked her to become a beta tester of theirHangouts On Air program.
A good lesson to learn from Heather, is to be the first at something. Like how Michael Jackson was the first urban artist to hit MTV. Heather could have tried to jump on the youtube bandwagon, or myspace, twitter and facebook, but Justin Bieber did it already through his gazillion views already, Soulja Boy was one of the first to leverage twitter to reach fans and create a career for himself in music, and then the Arctic Monkeys became huge through myspace reaching a stratosphere in music that they won’t be coming down from for a long time, even if their sound is getting more alternative. But they’re not the only ones. Look at Karmin with their 70+ million views for their “Look At Me Now” video! Even now it’s getting regular comments after being released on youtube over a year ago. But no one said they were the first to get big on youtube, more like, the first to use youtube to get big with a serious (non-comedy) cover.
But the media love news when it’s “new”, right. When someone comes behind you, unless they do the same thing but with a different angle, it’s no longer news-worthy. You have to come at it with an angle. For example, you can do it by location, by genre, by cause or mission. Let’s take the Google Hangouts thing. It could be, “Mod-Revival Bands Take On Google Hangouts,” and then you’d throw a google hangout party with fellow mod bands, and invite the media to share the good news. Or, it could be, “New York singers stage city love evening on Google Hangouts.” Heather has definitely been helped by her pioneering attitude, being the first one there, and the media have championed her, and will continue to spread her music.
WEST HAVEN — Past the kids’ train set, on the other side of the rocking horse and only a few steps from the washing machine, Heather Fay has built a home concert hall.
From her humble basement command post, she sings and plays for appreciative fans from here to Finland. It’s part of her grand plan to ramp up a career as a singer-songwriter, without sacrificing her time with her husband and two young children.
“I was trying to figure all this out,” says Fay, whose married name is Heather Fay Dawson. “Now, I can put my kids to bed and go play. I don’t have to leave home.”
She says it wouldn’t be possible without the social media platform Google+ and various applications such as Hangouts and Hangouts On Air. A group of up to 10 performers can get together on Hangouts and give a concert, and the concert can go up on YouTube or be presented live via Hangouts On Air.
“It’s a way to reach a global audience. It blows my mind,” Fay says.
Fay’s creative journey has taken her from Connecticut to Hollywood and back.
She grew up in Westport, the youngest of five kids, and her personal soundtrack included everyone from Tom Waits and Wilco to Johnny Cash, James Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald. Waits, she says, inspired her at a young age to tell her own stories.
She started writing songs and playing the guitar in college, although she had no keen interest in performing. “I’d done a lot of acting in school, but the thought of going on stage and being me was terrifying,” she says.
So, Fay tucked away her musical tendencies and instead pursued a career in TV production in Hollywood. She spent several years working on “The Drew Carey Show,” bounced around on a plethora of TV pilots and gradually grew tired of the industry.
“I knew when I started having kids that I would come back home,” she says.
After more than a decade in California, Fay and her husband, Rob Dawson, moved to Connecticut. They now have two kids, daughter Ruby, 5, and son Bodhi, who will be 2 in July.
It’s a typically busy family. Dawson works in information technology, and Fay is in graduate school at Quinnipiac University, working on an advanced degree in interactive media. Ruby is a smiling, twirling whirlwind. Bodhi has just discovered that airplanes are in the sky outside his house.
Fay, who is in her 30s, tried to shoehorn a singer-songwriter persona into all of this.
“I had a lot of guilt,” she says. “How do I justify spending all this time away from my family to follow my dream? How can you be a musician and a mom?
“My husband is my roadie, so even just finding a sitter so I can do a show is very stressful.”
This is not to say Fay hasn’t made great strides with her music.
After summoning the courage to perform two songs at an open-mic night in Bridgeport in 2008, she worked with Eric Lichter of Dirt Floor Studios in Chester on an album of original songs. Named “Scrape Knee’d Girl,” it came out in 2009.
By last year, she was doing one or two gigs a month and working on material for a second album. But guilt kept creeping up on her — until Hangouts came along.
“This kind of thing was bound to happen,” Dawson says. “It was very surreal at first, having concerts downstairs. But it became so natural so quickly, it didn’t have time to ever be awkward.”
Fay describes it as a sort of Skype for musicians. Up to 10 people can join in an online concert, taking turns performing. They need to be Google+ members before they can sign up for the service.
“I did a Hangouts concert for a bunch of people in Finland,” she says. “I did one with someone who was in Japan and someone who was in Australia. I play a song, you play a song and people listen.”
For people who aren’t part of Google+, Fay posts YouTube videos of her concerts.
“You can interact with potential fans all over the world,” she says. “Honestly, before this, I was trying to carve out a path, and I was thinking about giving up.”
Social Media Marketing Case Study – Heather Fay Following Her Dream Using Google Plus
by RUSSELL on JUNE 5, 2012
A lot of commentators (and businesses) dismiss Google+ as a waste of time, with no real audience.
But I met one person – Heather Fay – who has not only managed to follow her dreams, but has built her fame and (hopefully) fortune using Google Plus.
And now, with this case study, you can learn how she did it. And get the inspiration you need to do the same with your dreams.
While Google+ isn’t anywhere as large or active as Facebook, Google+ is being seen as more of a niche player. And one niche that has seen fantastic growth, thanks to Google’s Hangouts, is the indie music scene.
What Is A Hangout?
Google Hangouts is a video service that allows you to host a “hangout” where anyone can join and watch you. It allows indie musicians, for example, to host small intimate performances for anyone who wants to listen. Growing their fan base along the way.
Introducing Heather Fay
One of these indie musicians is Heather Fay, and she agreed to answer a few of my questions about her success with Google+.
Q. You use a variety of social networks, but focus your energies on Google+, can you explain why?
[Heather] To be honest, as a musician, Google+ changed everything for me.
First of all, the level of engagement and interaction on G+ is incredibly unique and unlike anything I have experienced on other social networks. Then there’s the Hangout feature which is awesome. I can easily jump in a Hangout on G+ and play songs for a global audience. It’s amazing!
Because of Hangouts and the overall level of engagement on G+, I am able to truly connect with fans in meaningful ways. In fact, many of my fans have become good friends! My experience on Google+ has been incredible and it is without a doubt my “home”.
Q. You use Google+ Hangouts quite successfully – can you tell us how you got started with them and how useful they are?
[Heather] When I first joined Google+ I was amazed by the Hangout feature.
As a musician, I knew it would be a great platform to share my music and a way to reach potential fans but I also saw it as a potentially cool way to connect with other musicians around the world.
So, I had the idea to host an Open Mic Hangout as a way to share, not only my own music, but as a way to encourage my fellow musicians to connect and share their music as well.
So I cleaned out a corner of my basement, set up a makeshift studio and hosted what was, as far as I know, the first ever GLOBAL Open Mic. In that first Hangout we had musicians from all over the world share their music.
We passed the virtual microphone around and played music for each other all without leaving our homes! It was incredible!
That night I knew that Google+ was something truly unique.
I still do Open Mic Hangouts and Hangout Concerts and I am continually amazed at how my fan base has grown and how far-reaching my music has gone because of Google+. I’ve also been lucky enough to connect with and form friendships with musicians from all over the world which is wonderful.
Q. What was your biggest challenge starting out? And how did you overcome it?
[Heather] I have to admit, I am actually pretty shy…so jumping in Hangouts is never easy for me. That was (and is) probably my biggest challenge.
It took me a while to do that first Open Mic Hangout. I had to work up the nerves to do it but once I did, people were so receptive and encouraging and it was amazing.
Q. You are also a mother of two – how do you juggle your singing and raising a family?
[Heather] Oh my goodness, I’m not going to lie…it’s challenging!
It’s a lot of work and I am pretty much exhausted ALL the time but being a mom and a musician (and doing both well) is my dream. One of the reasons I love Google+ so much is because it makes juggling motherhood and music so much easier.
Before G+ I was really struggling with figuring out a way to build a career as a musician and get my music out into the world but still be home for my kids.
You know I’m not 20 years old, I’m not carefree, I can’t jump into a van and tour the country in hopes of building a fan base one show at a time. I have grown up responsibilities and I want to be home for my family.
Because of Hangouts and the On-Air feature, I can play music for people all over the world and build a global fan base from my home…without having to leave my kids for long stretches of time. I am extremely thankful to be living in a time of such incredible technology.
It certainly makes living my dreams easier!
Q. What advice would you give other people when it comes to using Google+?
[Heather] Engage and interact, post interesting content and don’t be afraid to jump in a Hangout!
What Can You Take From This?
Heather has found a way to combine her “regular” life of being a Mum, and following her dreams as a musician using Google+.
How can you do the same using social media?
A Big Thanks
I just wanted to take this time to thanks Heather for taking the time in answering my question. You can find her over on Google+, online, and you may be lucky enough to catch one of her Open Mic Sessions. You can also find her on YouTubeand Twitter.
LIVE TOAST - June 11, 2012
MUSICIANS CONTINUE TO INNOVATE IN GOOGLE+ HANGOUTS BUT THE REAL-TIME JAM REMAINS ELUSIVE
Google+ has become the social media platform of choice for many musicians, with its Hangouts video chat feature and new Hangouts On Air feature, which enables users to post content from Hangouts to YouTube where it can be seen by millions worldwide. Many independent artists are taking advantage of this technology in new and innovative ways, completely changing the way music is created, performed and shared.
“We have been amazed to see this incredibly active and passionate community of musicians develop on Google+,” said a Google spokesperson. “Hangouts On Air has been a real game changer for musicians in particular, enabling them to share their music with audiences all over the world.”
In just one year, independent musician Daria Musk rose from obscurity to worldwide recognition by becoming one of the first to use Google+ Hangouts to hold worldwide concerts. Heather Fay, a singer-songwriter, graduate student and mother of two, was another early adopter and one of the first musicians to hold worldwide “Open Mic” sessions, which enabled her to grow her global fan base and continue to pursue her dreams.
For other musicians like Adolfo Delannoy and Andres Delannoy, who make up the Spanish rock band Lateral, Google+ is a valuable networking tool to meet other musicians and fans – but they want it to go one step further: to enable users to play in real time together across great distances. As the technology gets better exponentially and the Hangout real-time worldwide jam comes closer to reality, musicians are continuing to use Hangouts in new and innovative ways.
Google+ Hangouts as a Worldwide Open Mic Session
Music has always been a part of singer-songwriter Heather Fay’s life. A graduate student and mother of two from New Haven, Connecticut, she can remember her mother singing to her when she was little and has been singing herself for as long as she can remember. She picked up a guitar as a sophomore in college and signed up for a class – although she ended up only attending twice.
“The fact that I can do this is and follow my dreams is amazing,” says Heather Fay, who has connected with musicians all around the world through Google+ Hangout Open Mic sessions.
“I could make sounds that I liked and I jumped right in to writing,” said Fay, who has been playing full-on since about 2008 and credits artists like Tom Waits and his songwriting as inspiring her to pursue her dreams of music. “When I discovered him, I dove into his music and the way he can lyrically express himself,” she said.
Fay was feeling guilty about the time and effort she was spending away from her family to focus on her music career and came close to abandoning her dreams. After discovering Google+, however, everything changed. Fay is considered an “early adopter” of Google’s Hangout technology and one of the first to hold Open Mic sessions with other musicians from around the world, which is how she met many musicians that she regularly interacts with now.
She was also a beta tester for Hangouts On Air, has worked with Google to test audio upgrades to the Hangout technology and was even featured on the official Google Blog on Mother’s Day. Most importantly, she is able to pursue her dreams and balance her family life, reaching a worldwide audience and community from the comfort of her home.
“Music has been my lifesaver, it is such a part of who I am,” said Fay. “On Google Plus, there is this resurgence of people who couldn’t pursue their dreams, but now are able to.”
She recently did an Open Mic Hangout with an entirely new group of musicians, some hailing from as far away as Australia and Japan. For the musician from Japan, it was his first ever Hangout. He initially just stopped in to see what it was about but ended up performing at the Open Mic.
“When musicians come on for the first time, it is so cool when they have this ‘aha’ moment of discovery and realize that this is going to change everything,” said Fay. “It’s not only a cool thing technology-wise, but on a human level to see people with child-like excitement about being able to pursue their dreams is amazing.”
Her husband has seen how much Google Plus has changed her life and is a big supporter, and a recent photo shoot with her daughter inspired a new music video for a song on her upcoming album. Fay previously released an album titledScrape Knee’d Girl, and plans to release the new album this summer or fall.
“I’m reaching this new worldwide audience,” she said. “This is the future.”
The elusive worldwide jam: Can Google make it happen?
While Google Plus has been groundbreaking for solo artists, it has been more difficult for bands to collaborate through Hangouts, especially if they live far apart like brothers Adolfo and Andres Delannoy, who make up the Spanish rock band Lateral. Adolfo lives in Los Angeles, while Andres is studying to get his PHD in Physics at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland and lives in Ferney-Voltaire, France. Utilizing tools like Pro Tools, Dropbox and online video, the two are able to collaborate and produce tracks across far distances, but playing together in person in a Google+ Hangout is still not possible.
Even though they are separated by 5661 miles, brothers Adolfo and Andres Delannoy of the Spanish rock band Lateral continue to make music remotely.
“The first thing I thought when I heard about Hangouts was that I wanted to get five people together and play together live,” said Adolfo. “As soon as you try it, though, you realize that it can’t work – the sound reaches the other people with a delay.”
The question remains, is this something that Google can fix? Correcting the time difference is hard, but it can be done says Adolfo, who refers to a module box called the jamLink that enables up to four people to play together in real time as long as all four buy the box and each has a speedy internet collection.
“We don't have a similar product but the team is working hard to address this issue,” said a Google spokesperson when asked about the jamLink technology. “The drawback is one that is unfortunately inherent in any technology today – even in cell phones. The time lapse could also be associated with bandwidth issues based on the individuals' connections.”
Adolfo says that jamming in real life with people all over the world is at the top of his “musician wish list.”
“It would revolutionize the way musicians interact, increase collaboration and promote creating music,” said Adolfo. “Imagine if all of a sudden you can jam or improvise with random musicians from different locations around the world. It’s mind boggling that we’re not at that point yet.”
In the meantime, Lateral continues to make music together from opposite ends of the world. When Adolfo gets an idea, he records himself playing guitar on a video camera, and then sends it by email to Andres in France. They use Dropbox to share the files, and once Andres listens to it, he learns how to play the song by ear and adds some new parts. The guitar and bass are laid down and uploaded to a database of tracks in the cloud. Finally, the song is sent to other musicians for other instruments such as drums, using the same method."
The two brothers have been playing music together for about 13 years. It all started around 1998-1999 when a band that Adolfo was in broke up during his first year of college. He noticed Andres, who was in high school at the time, had picked up the guitar and became very good very quickly. Soon they started jamming, Andres began writing parts of songs and they began practicing with a drummer named Omar Alayon almost every weekend. They toured Puerto Rico from 2003-2006, built a following, and recorded an 8-song EP which they gave out for free.
Lateral has a full length album and a three-song EP that was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and also recorded several more EPs in a home studio. The next step for Lateral is a music video, adding art to their album and printing copies and placing it in I-Tunes. They haven’t let long distances destroy their dreams of music and can’t wait until they can play live over the internet no matter where they are in the world.
"I've seen great bands break up when people get frustrated, or tired of touring and eventually move away with their families," said Adolfo. "This technology could allow great musicians to re-connect and continue to release great music."
HIRL: Hangouts in Real Life
Google Plus Hangouts aren’t just happening online – they have also inspired people with similar passions to meet in real life, or HIRL. Heather Fay and Daria Musk shared a stage at a HIRL event in February in New York. People from all over the world came for the weekend event, even from as far as Vienna, Austria.
“It felt very different and genuine because we had hung out in Hangouts prior to meeting in person,” said Fay. “It was almost like family reunion, there was a lot of conversation and growth.”
There are plans to have another one in the fall. There are not only HIRLS for musicians, but for other passions as well.
“In addition to musicians, photographers have been a prominent community to develop on G+,” said a Google spokesperson. “There have been photowalks and conferences that have all come about because of the community that initially found each other on Google+.
Singer-songwriter Fay delivers a modestly tuneful, smartly-arranged and heartfelt set of 10 songs here. The modesty in question isn’t a comment on her talent — she possesses a strong, clear voice, and can use it to convey a broad range of emotions; and her songs themselves, which fit into the rootsier end of the pop-rock spectrum, are melodically graceful (the middle section of the album is particularly confident and hooky) but her delivery feels subtle and somehow private. Eric Lichter’s analog production gives the songs warmth, and his multi-instrumental contributions create an ebb and flow with plenty of ear-catching passages. Not only is there more going on here than one might first notice, the songs are concise in their composition, even the slower ballads (and the set does tip towards mellow, steady-tempoed songs). One wishes she showed off more, or made all the choruses pop out the way she can. But the private-feeling approach still suits Fay’s direct lyrics and melodies.
Heather Fay started out with the dream of creating the perfect mix tape. The implausibility of this quest didn't hit her until years later while looking at her Alvarez acoustic and realizing that if she wanted the perfect mix tape she'd have to write some of it herself. Scrape Knee'd Girl is the outgrowth of that realization; an album of songs about the imperfections and wrong turns on life's path and the emotional cost of living through both right and wrong decisions. The title and artwork represent the "perfectly imperfect" state we live in, the bumps and bruises we acquire, and the tales Fay spins on Scrape Knee'd Girl sing to the very part in each of us that crave to be accepted, warts and all. Heather Fay dabbles in the singer/songwriter pastiche of Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell and adds in a twist of Americana, Country Blues and Rock, depending on the song. Her voice is clear and strong and plain-spoken; an every woman's voice that connects to the listener instantly and holds your attention. Scrape Knee'd Girl opens with 515, a musical soliloquy about making choices that are painful but better in the long run. Here she's moving on toward an unknown future away from someone whose decisions will take her down a less desirable path. Don't Cry is a song about waking up to the important things around you. It's a pragmatic tune set to a comfortable Americana arrangement that shows off Fay's easy vocal style and talent for putting emotions and moments into words. The Last Time touches on the distance that grows between two halves of a couple over time, an honest question to the other about how/when things changed. Ruby's Song is a song of love and devotion. The sentiment is beautiful and the arrangement is striking if a bit mundane, yet this serves to help the quiet vocal line soar. California Days is a dreamy memory song; a reverie for a time and place that likely could never be recaptured. Breaking My Heart is an entreaty to a loved one to not hurt her, set to a light Reggae beat. The light, optimistic nature of the arrangement runs at odds with the subject matter here, and Fay's cool, easy delivery makes it all believable. Dukes Up is an optimistic song about overcoming heartbreak; fighting your way through. It's set to a great blues/country arrangement that accentuates the hard-nosed yet vulnerable feel of the narrator. Heather Fay brings a distinctive voice and approach to songwriting on Scrape Knee'd Girl. There's an emotional honesty that is unmistakable, with Fay delving into psychologically intimate subjects and moments from the experience of her protagonist. The music is wonderfully constructed, sticking primarily with a rich Americana sound that could pass for Country or Folk with a sprinkling of Rock thrown in. The album's pacing is a bit slow at times, with a couple of songs just losing me along the way, but Fay recovers well and generally delivers a very strong effort. Make sure you check out Scrape Knee'd Girl. It's worth the time. Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Every once in while an album comes along that you like not just because of the production or the voice or the songwriting, which is why I went out of my way to get a copy of Heather Fay's Scrape Knee'd Girl. After sampling a few tracks on her MySpace page, I heard something I could not quite put my finger on, something beneath the music itself. A handful of listens and I knew what it was. Heather Fay is the Scrape Knee'd Girl. No, it's not a teaser for the album. It just is. She sings and writes like a young girl with scraped knees, vulnerable yet trusting. It's that simple. You basically get two Heather Fay's here. One encompasses full band and full sound, a little more sophisticated, if you will. I attribute those mainly to Eric Lichter, who produced the album and plays all instruments (and they are many) with the exception of Heather's guitar. The arrangements are first rate, most notably on the softer ska of Breaking My Heart and the slow rocking 5:15. Layering a slew of instruments, including multiple keyboard and guitar tracks, is never as easy as it sounds and Lichter handles the chores well, keeping the background background and not letting it get in the way of the voice. The other is Heather Fay herself, basic and alone, which is where she shines. Don't Cry and especially California Days stand out, remnants of the late sixties folk sound worked into the fabric. Unplugged and solitary works for her and allows the scraped knees to show. While her voice is, shall we say, a bit untrained, she more than makes up for it in her phrasing. These songs from the heart are sung from the heart and it sounds it. Call her a work in progress, as are most of the musicians working these days. She might have a ways to go, but it will be interesting watching her get there. Scraped knees or not, this is a good start.