Over the last month or so, we started noticing many updates on Twitter and Facebook that were being posted from something called Whrrl.  Curious, we did some investigating and discovered a relatively-new application that allows people to collaborate in the telling of a story and then share that same story with friends on Facebook and Twitter.  Impressed with the many possibilities this application presents for independent musicians, we reached out directly to Whrrl’s music community guru himself Marcus Sacco who took some time out his day to tell us more about how Whrrl can help independent musicians connect with their fans.

Q: Can you tell us what you do at Whrrl?

Whrrl logoA: My job at Whrrl is to grow our music community through promoting and supporting musicians, the fans that support them, and their stories.

Q: How did you get involved with Whrrl?

A: I began working at Whrrl about a year ago as a Data & Content Associate, but as our product evolved from a location-based reviews service to a real-time storytelling application, my position evolved. Now I’m responsible for helping grow and nurture the music community on Whrrl.

Q: Many musicians I’ve spoken with seem to think that Whrrl is just another Twitter client–is that accurate?

A: Whrrl is a real-time storytelling application for the mobile phone and Web that enables anyone to tell the stories of their life – anytime, and from anywhere. Your location, as well as photo and text updates are all threaded into a story that others can join and collaborate in, whether they are physically present or not. From there, your story can be published out as status updates on Facebook and Twitter if you choose.

For instance, imagine you are on Twitter and see a post that says, “@thethermals is at The Crocodile Café getting ready to play, see their story (8 photos, 9 updates) at http://whrrl.com/56842“. You can then click through and get an incredibly rich and cohesive account of the event from the perspective of that musician, as well as anyone else who is collaborating on that story.

Q: Based on your official company social media pages and your large presence at SXSW, it is obvious that Whrrl is making a concerted effort to reach out to musicians, so tell us, what can musicians do with Whrrl that they can not do with other apps?

A: Whrrl allows musicians to connect on a much more personal level with existing fans and potential fans alike. By using Whrrl to share their stories on the road, at recording sessions, during nights out on the town, or anywhere else, musicians can create compelling, inspiring content.

What really sets Whrrl apart, though, is the story unit in which we display content and the collaborative nature of the product. Fans can view a very rich, comprehensive account of a musician’s activities, and comment directly at any point. This kind of immersive, direct interaction is much more powerful than message boards and short text blurbs alone. It also enables fans to participate in the everyday activities of musicians, making them feel part of the moment.

“Whrrl enables fans to participate in the everyday activities of musicians, making them feel part of the moment.”

Q: Is there a limit to how many people can collaborate on a story (i.e., if a musician is performing for 1000 people, in theory, could all 1000 add to the story about the concert)?

A: There is no limit. If an artist created a story at a show and asked everyone in attendance to sign into Whrrl, join the story, or just leave a comment, all of those updates would be threaded to the same story.

Q: How have you seen musicians (or music-related people) taking advantage of Whrrl since launching version 2.0? Any specific examples our readers can check out?

A: It’s been great to see musicians using the product to expand their fan bases and to get closer to their existing fans. Parachute and Pop Noir, two bands who have been using Whrrl, have told wide ranging stories (at recording sessions, shows, TV broadcasts, days on the road, nights on the town etc.), and have received a good amount of page views just by being featured and telling interesting stories about their lives.

From a non-musician perspective, there have been a number of entertaining, well-viewed stories based around music. Many people have shared their concert experiences, one user took a trip to Graceland, another shared his story from a record listening night. A big part of music is sharing what you like, and Whrrl is a great way to do so.

Some examples:

Q: Whrrl is integrated with Facebook and Twitter–can musicians embed Whrrl stories on other sites (MySpace, blogs, etc)? If not, is that a feature that is coming?

A: Yes, we just released a Whrrl widget that can be embedded on blogs. The widget displays your 5 most recent stories, including any stories you are sharing that are “happening now” so people can participate and collaborate in that story as it happens.

Q: How about other platforms–other than iPhones and SMS, is Whrrl coming for Blackberries, Android or Windows Mobile phones?

A: We’re looking into building for additional platforms in the future. For now, anyone can participate on Whrrl either through their iPhone or any SMS-text enabled phone, which means that just about anyone can access and tell a story on Whrrl.

Q: You’re obviously a music fan, so let’s end speaking about music–what’s your favorite new music right now?

A: Well, Arthur & Yu is a favorite, along with Neko Case. And Made Out Of Babies is a band I’m happy to have discovered. I really like Spindrift, especially their slower stuff, and Past Lives’ “Strange Symmetry” EP is really good. The Crystal Antlers are awesome, too.

Q: Top 5 shows?

  1. Murder City Devils, Botch, The Catheters – The Graceland, 1998, Seattle, WA
  2. Guitar Wolf, December 2003, Yamagata, Japan
  3. Neko Case – Paramount Theater, 2006, Seattle, WA
  4. Sonic Youth – Bumbershoot, 2002, Seattle, WA
  5. Exploding Hearts – Blackbird, 2002, Portland, OR

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BONUS: After we finished our interview, Marcus attended My Bloody Valentine’s show at the WaMu Theater in Seattle. Check out his story about the show here.

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Additional Reading:

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What do you think of Whrrl? How have you used it? Share in the comments below or via Twitter (and be sure to leave a link to your artist page on Whrrl).

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more articles and useful goodness for independent musicians.

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