When you think of “social media kingpin,” Myspace is probably not the first thing to come to mind. Kirby Brooks Todd is trying to change that, at least when it comes to the areas of music and entertainment. As Myspace’s Senior Communications Specialist, Todd is something of a “Jill of all trades” in the realms of marketing and PR within the social media company, which has gone through a major site revamp and is being touted as “a social media trend to watch” this year by Forbes and Mashable. In her almost-three years with Myspace, Todd has done everything from event planning and working with press, to curating music mixes for Refinery29, People StyleWatch and other media outlets. Todd says it’s Myspace’s goal to get back to the forefront of art and entertainment within the social media stratosphere. The site’s editorial team has been working hard to make Myspace a social entertainment hub by creating a lot of original editorial content, such as the “Sad Girls’ Guide,” “Five Minutes to the Stage” and “ONETWOWATCH.” In her spare time, Todd also co-runs the popular lifestyle blog, Short & Sweet, with her colleague Alexa Evans.
Boxx contributor Emi Peters talked to the Southern California native about how Myspace 2.0 can shape the music industry, what it’s like being a woman in the male-dominated tech field, and which female artists influence her style.
Emi Peters: Can you explain your role as Senior Communications Specialist at Myspace?
Kirby Brooks Todd: Yeah, so I kind of don’t have a super-defined role. We’ve obviously been super busy with our re-launch, so our communications team just kind of pitches in where needed. I guess a lot of my big projects right now are working to promote our embeddable player. Myspace has this embeddable player where you don’t have to login in order to play the songs and so we’ve been working on promoting that for Refinery29 around Fashion Week. We have a lot more mixes coming up, so that’s one of my big projects.
EP: Can you explain more about some of Myspace’s major changes?
KBT: Yeah, I guess the first thing—Myspace looks completely different. That’s one thing people notice right away. It just has such a great design—it’s really clean and we have a ton of editorial content. We have a really big editorial team, you know, we brought people over from Vice and Rolling Stone and a bunch of different outlets and kind of filled out that team in the past year. One of the major things that they do is produce original content for artists. I think that’s really great because a lot of up-and-coming artists don’t have the budget to produce their own music video or their own behind-the-scenes footage and that’s what our editorial team does. We have a bunch of different editorial franchises—“Five Minutes to the Stage” is one of my favorites—where literally five minutes before [the artist goes] on stage, they’ll be interviewed. It’s not something you see everywhere else. And then another feature we released a few months ago is called “Portfolio.” It’s basically just a cool way to kind of showcase my favorite things, whether that’s a song I’m really liking or an image or a mix that I’ve created on Myspace or a mix an outlet has created, or editorial content. There’s just a lot of music and content and it’s all kind of layered with social in a way that we haven’t seen other sites do.
EP: And how will this re-launch impact the music industry?
KBT: I think it allows artists to promote themselves and kind of connect with their fans and share things, whether it’s a bigger artist or someone more up-and-coming. I mean that’s kind of what Myspace was known for a long time ago, was being like a springboard for artists, so we’re kind of getting back to that.
EP: Is marketing and PR something you’ve always wanted to do?
KBT: It is. I think it always just kind of came naturally to me. I used to write for the school paper in college and I did freelance writing for a while and then was doing social media, and then kind of transitioned over to marketing. I actually worked for Specific Media before Myspace, before the makeover. Specific Media’s our parent company, so, I’ve always done marketing and writing and I have a blog, Short & Sweet, that I write in my personal time, but everything’s kind of woven together.
EP: What sort of challenges do you think you face as a woman in the more male-dominated tech industry?
KBT: I mean honestly I feel like it’s getting better and better. I think one thing for me I wish is that I took computer classes and learned more about tech in high school and college because I have had to kind of learn through my job, but I know at MySpace we have a lot of women in leadership roles. My boss is a woman, and a lot of our editorial staff is made up of women, so I mean I just really learn a lot from them, from a lot of people within Myspace.
EP: What advice would you give to a young woman who wanted to work in your field?
KBT: I would say just ask a lot of questions. That’s something I know everyone at our company is really open with. I have a really open dialogue with my boss where I’ll ask questions and just kind of listen in on calls and things like that where I can get a handle on a project that I might not even be working on, but listen in just so I can learn from it. Whenever you think you know something, especially with tech, it’ll change and there’s always five other people coming up, so I guess just learning as much as you can and really just being a sponge.
EP: And how did you start your blog, Short & Sweet?
KBT: It started at my first job out of college. I was a copywriter, and I just wasn’t feeling really challenged at work, so a co-worker (Alexa Evans) and I decided we would start a blog. We were reading a bunch of different blogs—one was based on fashion and one would be based on music and one on travel—so we decided to start one together that had all of our favorite things about these other blogs in one, so it’s more of a lifestyle blog. And it’s nice having someone else to work with because we kind of taught ourselves everything, from editing code if something goes down on our site to Photoshop, and so it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. If I’m having trouble with something, I can go to her.
EP: Do you think music influences your style in any way?
KBT: I do. I mean I feel like fashion and music are both creative outlets for me. I run most mornings, and that kind of sets the tone for my day. I easily get bored running, so I’m just always discovering new artists and adding them to my Myspace mixes and that influences my whole day, and then definitely artists as well. Like Emily Haines from Metric and Broken Social Scene, she’s one of my favorites. She performed with Metric as part of our Budweiser sponsorship last summer for 50/50/1 and she always looks so great on and off-stage, so I definitely try to emulate her style a little bit.
EP: Who are you currently listening to?
KBT: I’m listening to a lot of Disclosure right now, and also a lot of CHVRCHES. I really like [CHVRCHES front woman Lauren Mayberry’s] style as well. I’m not going to Coachella this year, but there’s a lot of people I would love to see if I went. I’d love to see Lorde and Disclosure. Actually I’m sad, I used to go every year; I’ve been like 6 years in a row. I think I’d like to just check out another festival this year. I’ve never been to Outside Lands, I’ve never been to Lollapalooza. [Myspace is] actually doing something with Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it this year, but I think that’s a really cool idea, the way Noise Pop takes place all over San Francisco, like a bunch of different venues. I love Coachella, but I’d like to kind of experience something new.