A completely random ‘friend’


So, we’re back after a month off. It’s been busy. I’ll save the how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation bit, because mostly I didn’t have a summer vacation.

Anyway, this time around we’re going to meet Roch Parisien. He’s a uniquely Facebookian friend. I’ve never met him, and he only added me as a friend because he’s doing something vageuly similar on his Facebook page. He interviews people using the Facebook wall, and leaves the results up for all to see.

I asked him a bunch of stuff. It’s interesting, because anythingI know about him I know from Facebook. There will be plenty of updates in the next litle bit, so check back once in a while OK?

So you have more than 1,000 Facebook friends. How do you decide who to add, and what percentage of them have you met?

It’s actually more like 2,000 since I have both my personal profile and my Rocon Communications music chat page. I started on Facebook last December as somewhat of a social media experiment to see what the possibilities were for engaging in music journalism on a site like Facebook.

I originally figured that my personal profile would be just a tight circle of family and “real world” friends, and that all the music chat and broader circle of Facebook friends with an interest in music would evolve at “Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications.”

The community had other plans. First of all, you can’t “invite” people from or to a page, unless they are first friends on your personal profile. Secondly, many people simply prefer to link with a person than with a page entity. It was more uncomfortable before when you had to become a “fan” of a page; somewhat better now that you only have to “like” a page.

But it’s still an interesting challenge to suggest to people that they cross to street from my personal profile to the Rocon Communications page, even though their connection with me is purely or primarily music related, and that’s where most of the music action takes place, including “The Facebook Interviews” – a series of live/interactive text chat sessions on the Rocon page with interesting musicians and music journalists who are active on Facebook.

The interview sessions developed organically, first from spontaneous exchanges with artists and writers on the Rocon page. Then, inviting artists who joined the page to chat and letting people know afterwards there was an exchange to read. Finally, turning the sessions into pre-organized Facebook events and inviting friends and fans to sit in and either lurk or participate with their own questions. The interview sessions remain active on the page for several days, and then I “archive” them to the “Notes” tab of the page.

Here’s a link to all 21 Facebook Interviews to date:

In terms of adding friends, either on my profile or the Rocon page…everyone is welcome unless it’s an obvious spam or imposter request. With the several hundreds of musicians and music industry people I’ve connected with, it’s perhaps 50/50 where I’ve asked for adds or they have asked me. As for general music fans from around the world who just want to follow what is going on with The Facebook Interviews, The Galaxie FolkRoots Channel, any of my other projects, or simply exchange in general about a broad range of music, as I said…anyone with an interest is welcome.

Do you get to know many of them? Do you have a favourite example of a stranger you added who ended up being really interesting?

I’ve been working actively in some form or another of music journalism, broadcasting and/or consulting since 1978… radio, print, TV, online… so I’ve crossed paths before with many of the musicians and music industry colleagues I now count as Facebook friends. Many others I’m meeting or interacting with for the first time via Facebook. Of course it’s impossible to intimately get to know and closely follow the activities of several thousand people, but many who have connected from around the world for music chat or to follow The Facebook Interviews series have become “regulars” who I enjoy interacting with as “real” friends. I’ve had invitations to visit and stay with FB friends from many parts of the world in my future travels, which is pretty amazing.

In fact, the web of both personal and professional connections and relationships that I’ve weaved in just eight months on Facebook has been endlessly fascinating. It sometimes feels like an ongoing string of outlandish coincidences that you simply can’t put down to coincidence. Eerie at times.

You just brought a band from England to Canada to do a reunion tour. Who are they, and what’s their deal?

I have no idea if this is the right band or not.

Babe Ruth is UK band that released several albums between 1972 and 1975 that is difficult to describe to those who don’t know them. I half-tongue-in-cheekly refer to them as a Classic-Hard-Prog-Jazz-Blues-Funk Rock band with a fascination for Spaghetti Western soundtracks and a Janis Joplin-like lead vocalist. Thanks to progressive FM radio play at the time, they were more popular in Canada than anywhere else in the world – their 1972 debut album “First Base” went gold here and they enjoyed a hit single with their signature song from it, “The Mexican.”

The group was an early, pivotal influence for me in my mid-teens, and just on intuition I decided to look them up on Facebook. I found profiles for guitarist Alan Shacklock and vocalist Janita Haan and connected with them just to pay my respects. One chat led to another, and they eventually confided that although they had recently released a reunion album (“Que Pasa”) and had always wanted to return to play again in Canada, they’ve never been able to get the logistics in place to bring it about. To make a long story short, I worked my contacts to the point of a firm expression of interest, at which point I turned the negotiations over to an agent friend of mine who firmed up contracts for a Canadian reunion tour that included some large festivals. I continued on through the process as a consultant, confidant, and facilitator of logistics and PR. It was amazing to see them tour again for the first time in 35 years, pull it off so amazingly, and bring much happiness to several thousand fans. It looks like they intend to continue building on this momentum, so we’ve come full circle and my debt to them, as a shy gawky teen, has been repaid so to speak. And it all began with a basic Facebook connection.

People can see plenty of pix, vids and reviews of Babe Ruth’s Canadian adventures on the band’s Facebook page here.

You produce music for the FolkRoots Channel for the Galaxie Network. I always assumed a robot did that – how does it work? How do you decide what to play?

Galaxie is a package of continuous-play digital music channels that Canadian subscribers receive as part of their digital cable services. I’ve been programming the FolkRoots Channel for Galaxie since the service launched in 1998. The 24/7 programming is software assisted, but based on rules and relationships between songs, categories, classifications, sound textures, energy levels, themes – literally over 100 factors – that I customized for the channel. There are currently over close to 9,000 songs in rotation on FolkRoots, so the playlist is very deep. I choose a group of new releases to add in high rotation every month, and try to kick a chart out (when I have the time!) so artists and industry folks can track what’s been added.

You’re also listed as a music consultant – what does that mean?

It’s somewhat of a grab-bag title that encompasses all my various music-related projects…music journalism, Facebook Interviews, my programming work with Galaxie…I’ve also worked as a consultant with Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization to help develop their collections of popular music artefacts and served as an evaluator for many of their pop acquisitions…serving on music industry juries and conference panels. In a parallel dimension, I’m also a partner in Consult Ink Limited, a firm that provides corporate communications consulting and editorial services.


One response to “A completely random ‘friend’

  1. Pingback: Facebook Interview | Susan Cowsill

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