Ralph Simon, one of the founders of the modern mobile phone entertainment industry - “the father of the ringtone” - is also Lady Gaga’s promoter. In an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti, he reveals how to become popular in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and also revealed Lady Gaga’s future career plans. The Q&A session was held during a coffee break at the final ceremony of the World Summit Award, close to the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit in Abu Dhabi.
RIA: What role has Facebook played in Lady Gaga’s climb to the top?
Ralph Simon: Well, she is like a chess grandmaster; she is like Botvinnik for entertainment. She knows that to be successful you have to make sure that you are growing your Internet and Twitter audience.
She has 7 million followers on Twitter and 25 million followers on Facebook. Her goal for 2011 is to increase her Twitter followers to 25 million. And she wants to grow her Facebook fans to over 30 million. How does she do that? She does it because she knows how to mix fashion, hit music and social networking skills. Those three elements make her so successful. And also visually she is always doing something that has art in it. It is always artful, very artful.
RIA: What’s the best way to promote an upcoming artist?
R.S.: You need to get a very good search engine optimization specialist and you need to get work with some of the best creative talent and there is fantastic creative talent in Russia. A good friend of mine is the chief executive officer of Actis Wundermann in Moscow – Anna Sverdlova. She has got very good people, I think it is also an opportunity now for Russian creativity which has a very high standard to have much more international impact.
RIA: Why do you think Lady Gaga’s Facebook page is more popular than president Obama’s?
R.S.: Because she is seen as much more fun than Obama. Obama comes across like he is academic intelligentsia, and Gaga…well, she just speaks in a language that everybody understands – men, women, gay community – everybody!
RIA: What is the most popular feature of Facebook at the moment? Is it photo, video, text or sound?
R.S.: It is a mixture of all of them. It depends. I think, for example, that popular Formula 1 drivers like Lewis Hamilton have very informative Facebook pages. All successful pages must also contain links to YouTube videos.
RIA: Does the merchandise for sale on Lady Gaga’s page sell well? How do you track the sales on Facebook?
R.S.: She sells it all through her own website, not Facebook. She mainly sells T-shirts and posters; usually she sells them when she is on tour. Right now she is in Europe. She was in eastern Europe, she was in Prague, she was in Helsinki. I don’t think she came to St. Petersburg or Moscow…. She sells mainly downloads, and whatever else people want. People often want her to send them a text message.I’m trying to persuade Lady Gaga to record some songs for her new album in Russian, because she has so many fans in Russia. Can you imagine?! We are talking about that at the moment. She is going to do a version in Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi and I want her to do one in Russian too. Then when it is released, Gaga’s Russian fans will say: “My goodness, Lady Gaga thinks about Russia”.
RIA: When can we expect it?
R.S.: May of next year. Her next album will come out in 2011 and the song in Russian may be included in this album. But she is still thinking about that.