BitDepth 715 - January 26

Mr Vybe, a young soca singer, works social media networks to promote and advance his career.
Not too young to sell soca

A rare look behind the Vybe as Patrick Gordon sets aside his shades to connect with fans. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

If you’re a young soca artiste fighting to make your presence felt in a crowded Carnival marketplace, what do you do? 
You could do the usual. Make the rounds of media houses, do interviews on the radio, make guest appearances with bands on the party circuit and generally flog the hell out of your new song.
Or you could go direct. To your fans, that is.

Two local soca singers are working the social media angle well, Shivonne “Lil Bitts” Churche and Patrick “Mr Vybe” Gordon.
Their stats are compelling. Churche has 6,296 Facebook friends following her updates and postings and 703 followers on Twitter, while Gordon has amassed 4,407 Facebook friends and 619 Twitter followers.
Both artistes have released online music to their fan base on social media, Churche offered her Christmas remake of ‘Mamacita’ and very, very briefly, her 2009 song, ‘Careful‘ to Twitter and Facebook followers.  
Shivonne Churche, in an e-mail sent by her management, refused to be interviewed for this column.

Gordon most recently uploaded a digital mixtape he produced with Canadian DJ Jester, and anyone who’s really interested in his work will uncover links to some of his earlier songs on his
blog. On the home page there’s a link to ‘Jam in the Road,’ the companion piece to the number he’s working for the season, ‘Mad again.’
Patrick Gordon has been working in the business since 1992 when he first came to public attention in the local boy band Blak Mayl. Since then, he’s been a rapper on Sharlene Boodram’s hit ‘Joe Le Taxi,’ co-written the soca re-imagining of Billie Jean with Andy Stephenson, worked with several big soca bands and finally metamorphosed into his brooding, braided and bespectacled Mr Vybe persona.

His ‘Ting for the road’ was a local hit in Carnival 2006 and won him the St Lucia Caribbean Soca Monarch crown in June that year.
Behind the dark shades and dour expression he affects for his promotional material is a thorough geek with an engaging smile and indefatigable enthusiasm for what computers can do for his career.
His mother, Marilyn, gave him access to the early computers in their household and he’s been communicating on the Internet since the days when ICQ was the mainstream social medium for online contact.

Gordon followed the vibe of growing social media networks, participating in Hi5 and MySpace as soon as they appeared. Quickly realising just how exhausting keeping up with multiple networks can be, he has cleverly centralised his efforts using a Wordpress blog designed by Tenika Jones.
“Tenika’s work on the blog was very important,” Gordon said. “She set it up so that I can post to the blog and that information gets sent automatically to the social networks I participate in.”
The soca singer and producer also keeps a careful eye on how his downloads are managed. The DJ Jester mixtape registered 1,500 downloads in less than a month after it was released, but there’s a cutoff point for all of the Mr Vybe downloads.

“Some songs and projects are done for promotion; they are released to go viral. Some of it you put out there to get feedback from people on a new direction or style.”
“I’m constantly surprised by the level of interaction that happens online. The people that follow me have a 100 percent Mr Vybe focus. Everytime a song plays on the radio locally, on Internet radio or even abroad I get a message either by Facebook, Twitter or e-mail about it. I actually haven’t had to monitor the radio as much now.

“I get remarkable responses on the web. People bring themselves online, and they bring who they are. If I don’t tweet or update my Facebook status for a day, there’ll be messages asking what’s up, am I okay?”
That feedback can sometimes be both positive and profitable. In May 2009, Gordon ended up in Germany when a MySpace friend hooked him up with a promoter who was a fan of his work and he travelled there to perform his 2005 song ‘Up’ which is still popular in clubs in that country.

Meanwhile, the young singer, composer and producer finds that he has little use for atoms. He sends his tracks to radio stations here and abroad as downloadable files. When he has to burn a CD, he does so when the situation commands it.
“I look at what’s happening online with other artistes, what folks like Drake, Kid Cudi, Ryan Leslie and Jermaine Dupri are doing is really inspiring to me. I look at what’s happening, and I take a bit of this and a bit of that and then put a bit of Vybe into it.”
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