Cinderella had glass slippers that she used to dance her way into the ball. She was an underdog, an outsider and the magical night that ensued happened because that little accessory whisked her out of the fireplace soot and onto the steps of the palace.
Yes, she had glass slippers, and at this year's VMAs, I had Google Glass. And they were the magical wearable accessory that let me crash one of the biggest parties in the music industry today.
On a night when the theme, from red carpet to arena, was a time-lapse from past to future, an effort by MTV to pay homage to their authentically cool and grungy beginnings into a newly revamped alien moon-man chrome-colored landscape... Google Glass was just about the perfect thing to wear. My silvery prism-powered teensy computer was perched on the bridge of my nose, and placed me at the intersection of cutting edge technology, fashion and entertainment.
Many musicians share a rags to riches story, and more and more these days the thing that tips the scale is the massive weight of social media, new tech and getting creative with the tools our phones and apps and laptops provide us. Look no further than self-made superstars like Macklemore or YouTube sensations like TimeFlies, whose footprints are all over the current music landscape, to see the impact Cinderellas and fellas can have. Their stories hit close to home for me too because I've been living my own Internet fairy-tale for the last year two years -- breaking onto a virtual global stage by playing live concerts through Google+ video chats called Hangouts -- and discovering a whole world of an audience I could sing for. Fast-forward to now and I've got one of the hottest new pieces of technology literally right in front of my eyes.
So, here's what I saw and how Glass charmed my big night out with music's biggest names.
Walking into the Barclay's center it was easy to feel the buzz and hum of excitement for the event ahead but also for this thing on my face! I imagine wearing glass in public is a lot like being a little famous. As you pass people whisper, just barely audibly, "That's Google Glass!" or "Woah what are those? Is that the Glass?" Other people come up, "Hey! Do those work?" Yeah, they do. Like magic!
Camera guys there to record the not-so-red carpet entrance to the VMAs were capturing video of the crowd, singling people out, so Glass of course got some on-screen time. I took photos of them while they filmed me. "Ok, glass. Take a picture!"
I snapped an instant-classic photo (with the crazy-beautiful Glass camera) of my VMAs ticket, holding it in the air in front of the entrance. I even took a couple Glassie-Selfies, which can only be achieved with a mirror or by taking them off and aiming them back yourself. #kidstoday
I walked through security and the metal detectors, and kept them on, no problem. Then I made my way through the throngs of industry insiders and lucky ticket-holders to my seat. The moment I stepped out of the tunnel and into the arena was like walking into a wild futuristic wonderland. I captured this wow-moment, without a second thought. I didn't have to take out my phone, focus and aim. It was noisy so instead of giving Glass my "take a picture" voice command I just discretely pressed the little physical button on the frame. Snap! My entrance to the ball, saved. Just as I saw it with my own eyes. I'm always marveling at the shots I take with glass. They have a perspective that really feels like POV sight. A little wide, deep rich colors, vibrant and filled with the memory of the moment because when you look at it later, it puts you right back there.
The place was purring with anticipation. The fans on the floor erupted with cheers every time a celeb came in to take their seat. I found mine and with a quick series of swipes on the touch-panel of my glass -- on the right-hand side of the frame -- I saw the Barclay's Center had open wifi and I connected. Glass also tethers to your phone, but my AT&T was weak inside the thick arena walls. Suddenly the world was at my fingertips and no one even knew. Swipe, I pulled up the photo. Swipe, touch. Tweeted it! Swipe, I posted it on Google+! Swipe, why not, Facebook too. ((chime)) Responses started rolling in! Comments! Reshares! I could see them all. ((chime)) Glass gently cooed. ((chime)) Here's an email coming in, friends really wish they were there! "Give us a shout out!" A phone call tickles the bone behind my ear. That is a feature that blows my mind every time. The sound Glass emits is actually just vibrations on your skull. It's a bone-conducting resonator. That means that even some people with partial-deafness experience sound with Glass. Too freaking cool. It's noisy so I cup my ear a bit, "Hey! Yeah I'm here! It starts in a few minutes!"
The lights start to dim, the place is going wild, so I press and hold that physical camera button for a couple seconds to start filming a video. Glass is set to capture perfect little 10-second clips, but I can see they're going to milk this moment, so I tap the touch-side to extend the video. Now It will record until I tap again. I sit back to enjoy the show, clicking little photos and videos here and there.
First commercial break I think how crazy it would be to start a Hangout from my Glass for my friends and fans to share this moment with me in real time! To really see it through my eyes. It's still loud so I tap, tap, "Start A Hangout" and pick my biggest circle of supporters on Google+. ((womp)) "No connectivity"! I swipe back to my settings and see the wifi network has disappeared, cut-off during the broadcast. Basically The wifi at started strong and then was like, "Imma let you finish... But, not 'til the show is over!"
Now all I can do is keep capturing the moments as they whip by. JT is dancing on a lit-up LED-stage right in front of my section! The giant moon-man mouth is opening to reveal Daft Punk! Bruno Mars' "Gorilla"-sized song fills the place with a killer live sound, crazy-huge talent and a ton of ear-popping pyrotechnics. Macklemore moves the audience in a truly heartfelt and powerful performance of "Same Love" with his American flag curtains lifting to the rafters with Jennifer Hudson and Mary Lambert's voices, and everyone's spirits. I notice all the people in my section, all the people in the Barclay's Center for that matter, have their phones out! A girl I meet in my row runs to the lobby to charge up. My friend looks at me dejected, "I'm out of battery." Even though they're among the few people on the planet who get to experience this show in person, they're all still watching through the little windows of their mobiles. But I'm looking out of my own eyes, seeing the show as it happens, and capturing my favorite parts in exactly that personal-perspective without ever taking myself out of the moment.
I'm fascinated by the behind-the-scenes view I have of this old-school entertainment industry ballet happening in between each performance and award. I marvel at the deft movements of the cameras, the swift set changes, everything perfectly timed out like a tag-team runner's baton hand-off. I kept waiting for the crew to be acknowledged on the PA for the incredible job they do, but I just it's all in a night's work for them. And just a couple sections away were the superstars I knew from my playlists and modern-pop-history. And amazingly, they were just people, not glamazon aliens, as giant as the 40-foot moon-man towering over everyone. They were people. People who, despite tabloid storylines and expensive nearly-non-existent outfits, are dedicated artists who work hard and love what they do, and do it really really well. They're as diverse as an average party-mix set to play with the volume up! They're a mingling of different styles and sounds and ages and now finally, little by little, a representation of the the new musicians who've broken-out and broken-free of the label's ancient death-grip on exposure.
As the in-house DJ spins a nostalgic track during a commercial-break, a track rife with meaning and history, the first video ever played on MTV's airwaves... "Video killed the radio star..." it occurs to me that YouTube is really MTV now. YouTube shows the music videos. YouTube breaks the new stars. And YouTube is where music-lovers look for what's cool, what's new and what's now. I wonder with excitement, how these two worlds will collide in the coming years - The wild rebel TV-Channel turned traditional institutional staple and the powerhouse social media and new-kid-on-the-block technology world. I think the more they blend, the more awesome, interactive and inclusive things will get. Music and tech are both magical ways to connect people, they transcend our everyday barriers erasing boundaries, borders and bad-moods.
So, I'm in the show, rocking my Glass and rocking in my seat. Normally I'd be more careful about conserving battery power. But I've been so clever. Tucked away in my cute clutch purse I've got a little USB power-stick and I know I can use it to boost my batteries and keep my Glass experience going all night long. I swipe, swipe to check my levels and I'm down to 30 percent, so I pull out my little charger in the next commercial break, ready to bask in my never-ending energizer-bunny-like battery life. But I realize I've left the extra cable to connect the power-stick to my Glass at home. "Low Battery. Charge Soon." Glass flashes at me. The clock is close to midnight and my fairy god-mother is nowhere in sight. Just like that, poof! My carriage reverts back to a pumpkin. My Glass goes dark. The crowd spills back out to the streets and my happily-ever-after with Glass and the music industry will have to wait for another night.