After the Grief: A Social Media Journey

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Week #5

As my 29th birthday approaches, I find myself looking back at my 20’s, rummaging through a slew of minor accomplishments and one rather large one: writing, recording, and releasing my first EP, 21 Grief Street. Very few know that if it wasn’t for social media and my love for social networking, the album would not exist today.

Back in 2006, I contacted one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Beth Hirsch, via her Myspace music page. I basically sent her one of those cheesy fan letters thanking her for being my idol, explaining how her music had helped me through bad times, and how she inspired me to pick up my guitar after a three year absence from songwriting. We soon developed a close online relationship that lead to me asking if she could recommend someone to help me record my album. Not only did she introduce me to virtuoso musician, Bernie Larsen, who would later produce 21, but she also ended up singing a duet with me on the album. Released in 2009, 21 Grief Street was my sonic autobiography; a love letter to South Bay, Los Angeles.  Although our friendship has since deteriorated, I will always have a special place in my heart for Beth, and let’s not forget that without Myspace none of it would have been possible.

Once again I’ve put down the guitar, only this time it’s only temporary. I am currently a full time student at BCC/Laney finishing up my generals and planning to transfer to Cal with a major in Film Studies (my other passion). I enrolled in ‘Social Media for Journalists’ because I have experienced the power of social media firsthand, and I feel that in order to keep myself on the pulse of its eccentricities, I must nourish my skill set to further understand our current Web 2.0 online world.

  1. breannadrew says:

    Billy, its great to see how small communications online can lead to such a large impact on life.

  2. I think its absolutely super Billy that you used Social Media to make such an impact in your life! But you know it really takes courage to get out there and say, “Hey! Connect with me.” I know this because I’ve had to do the same and it can get really scary; especially if they are someone you admire or look up to. However, it is an impact that I believe will really make a difference.

    • Billy Rivera says:

      I certainly didn’t always have that courage, Roshni. Before the social media boom, I had a hard time connecting with people I wanted to work with. Unfortunately, In LA, it’s either about being at the right place at the right time, or being born into the industry. Unlike most of my piers, I didn’t have famous parents that could make a phone call to get me the contacts I wanted. Social media changed all that. I feel it created a genuine platform for fans to reach out to their influences and vice versa.

  3. Hey Billy! Man, I think you’re so lucky! I wonder, what type of music you like to write/sing? I’d like help coming up with new songs. I might offer a new source of genre in your perspective. Let me know what you think!

    • Billy Rivera says:

      I have a hard time categorizing my music into one specific genre. I usually just pool together sounds that I’m influenced by. I was going for more of an organic sound on ’21’ because I wrote the all the tracks on acoustic guitar, but my new stuff is more synth driven. What type of music do you write/play?

  4. A.S. Miller says:

    I second Breanna’s comment, that’s so amazing and inspiring! I googled the EP and checked some tracks, you’re great!!!! Is it okay if I link to you in one of my posts? (mentioning how people can connect through social media)

    • Billy Rivera says:

      @A.S. Miller, Thanks for the kind words. Feel free to pass on the link. I love helping people connect with social media. It’s so rewarding to actually get a response from people you’re reaching out to. For anyone with any doubts, my story might help lead them in the right direction.

  5. Grannelle says:

    How fascinating, Billy, that you successfully enabled your artistic craft via the magic of Social Media. Congratulations on achieving so much in so little time, and best wishes for your continued success!

  6. Mariana C S Rogedo says:

    I read your blog because i saw your message saying thank for everyone who replies you. And i’m really glad i did read it too. Its amazing your experience and i’m really happy that your experience create something very important for your life and your history. Amazing!!!!!

  7. […] gives us a place to connect with old friends and meet new ones.One can also find enemies, family, mentors, any kind of person that exists in the meatspace (except for technophobes). Social Media provides […]

  8. Wow, i think i have to give this … the best first post i have ever read. You definitely have a interesting story tell. Your blog page is also awesome, it makes me want to step my game up and add some visual personality to my own blog page. One thing is for certain, you are a inspiring person to others, i think you should be proud about that. I look forward to reading more about your experiences and hearing your opinions. i enjoy your presence and contributions to our class.
    p.s. congratulations on releasing your EP and working with someone you admired, i think that’s awesome

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