By Christina Miller

Toronto was added to the roster of cities this year for the 2nd annual Social Media Week. The international Social Media Week conference is designed as a series of localized events, which city partners are responsible for organizing. Since tickets to the conferences are, for the most part, free, they went fast and I was only able to secure my place in one conference, Architects of Community. It turns out, that’s all I needed to become inspired and enamored with the idea of this new media.

Architects of Community focused on the idea of building community within social media. The panelists included Erica Ehm, former MuchMusic VJ and CEO of; Alan Cross, curator of ExploreMusic and the host of The Ongoing History of New Music; and Amber Mac, co-founder of new media agency and host of various web-oriented programs on TV and online. The conversation was moderated by fashion blogger Jyotika Malhotra.

Initially, I was drawn to this panel because of Alan Cross (I love the Ongoing History of New Music!), but Erica and Amber were amazing as well. All three presented different and interesting ideas about the subject, apparently without even discussing with each other who was going to cover what. They all appeared to be genuinely fascinated with eachother’s presentations and each engaged the audience of 50 with questions and a sense of humour.

I wasn’t prepared to take notes, I figured I’d just take it all in and hopefully remember the valuable points later, but there were too many tantalizing ideas to keep straight! Thank goodness for the memo pad function on my Blackberry.

Erica appeared to be the most passionate about her newfound love for social media. A self-declared Twitter addict, she insists that if Facebook is for the friends you already have, Twitter is for the friends you’re going to have. In her three months of tweeting, she says that “retweeting” (RT for those Twitterers out there) is the best way to get noticed by an influencer. She says she found all her employees for her website online, as it is the best way to hire bloggers – they should already be out there, blogging and getting ready to get noticed. While she spends a lot of time online, she realizes the importance of taking it offline to make real connections and strengthen your community with events and meet ups.

Adorable techie Amber Mac taught us “the ABCs of reaching out”:
Authenticity – be honest and accessible.
Bravery – do something different.
Consistency – share everywhere, measure everything with site analytics. She calls this “feed and seed”.

Alan spoke about how music has changed since the inception of the internet. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how things used to be – if you wanted that new Bush X single, you had to spend $20 and buy “Sixteen Stone”, even if the rest of the record sucked. The way you heard about new music was from your older siblings, friends, magazines like Circus or Rolling Stone, or the guy at the record store.

These days, there is music everywhere. There’s nearly too much music for the average music fan to handle. Alan outlines the fact that confusion, panic, and doubt have increased as the amount of music available has increased with a lovely line graph. There’s less time spent savoring music because you’re always in search of newer, cooler bands and as a result, the life cycle of artists has decreased from years to months and even weeks. These days, we depend on curators like Pitchfork,, and Pandora to help us weed out the crap.

It’s not all bad though. With the internet came a sense of community. When Napster illegally exploded onto the scene, music lovers found people just like them on the other side of the world. They discovered new bands they might not have found otherwise. Music discussions ensued, benefiting not only the listener, but also the artist. The future of music truly lies online.

I left the conference with this feeling of excitement. This media is so new that the only experts out there so far refer to themselves as such followed by a stifled laugh. It’s all about conversing and meeting new people. It’s not as competitive since everyone has something different to offer. I hope it continues on the path I witnessed at the Spoke Club, because it was a truly inspiring one.