(UPDATE) Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter's move into developing music tech startups includes involvement with the low profile promo url shortener bre.ad and a new service called Backplane that "empowers social community." Not surprisingly, the first such community empowered by Backplane is Lady Gaga's new social network LittleMonsters. Though it's already quite lively and interesting, it's also worth considering for what the site reveals about Backplane's potential.
Jason Kincaid recently reviewed the site for TechCrunch and described it as combining "some of the key features of Pinterest, Tumblr, Canvas, and Ning to produce a community platform that’s both highly visual and potentially highly engaging, too."
Screenshot of LittleMonsters Homepage
Upon logging in, one sees a homepage of images posted by members in pinboard fashion (Pinterest). Additional displays include videos and what are described as "links" though they seem to be a bunch more photos. In essence, the main initial pages are visually rich and if one clicks on the image or video, one is taken to a page featuring that image or video as well as many more in the sidebar. In addition one can comment on and "heart" the uploaded content.
Kincaid describes the heart icon as "increasingly ubiquitous" but, since we're looking at where they got their ideas, I should note that the founders of Tracks.by said they introduced the heart with their Facebook app. That said, when one hearts an image, it's added to one's profile page, similar to reblogging (Tumblr).
An image editor for uploads (Canvas) is described as a "remix tool." Kincaid reveals that users will be able to navigate between the various communities created by Backplane (Ning) and that the events section will offer a "calendar for your various interest groups, and supports integration with both Google Calendar and Gmail." It's described on site as a way to connect with events "around you" which may tie into location aspects.
Currently the featured content is mostly Lady Gaga plus pics of muscley looking male Monsters who might be her dancers. However, a diverse group of Little Monsters are uploading their images as well so hopefully they'll begin featuring those on the homepage since the current effect seems more about Lady Gaga and her Toy Boys than the full range of Little Monster identity.
Most of the rest seems to be fairly normal social network account features. One Gaga-esque touch I appreciate is that below each post on the site is the option to "Report Bully" in keeping with Lady Gaga's antibullying stance.
In addition, these Little Monsters are ready to network. I signed up, uploaded a pic and then ignored it for a day or two. Today I already have 28 fans. I'm guessing Little Monsters include a fairly sizable contingent of folks seeking a following which is spurred by listing top members in order of fan count so they're probably following me in hopes I'll follow back (Twitter). Given that everyone seems to be initially labeled as a Gaga fan, it appears that, as of early Tuesday morning, there are a little over 4000 members.
So Backplane appears to be drawing on features that they would consider best of breed and tying them together in a platform that currently loads very quickly. It will be interesting to see how performance holds up as thousands become tens or hundreds of thousands, especially if ads or outside apps are included which typically undermine web performance.
Though it's said to be in "Private Beta", I got into LittleMonsters pretty quickly by emailing [email protected] (as per the Techcrunch post) and you can also request an invite on the homepage. Judging from Backplane's Twitter feed they're letting people in on a daily basis.
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.