The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Social Status: Musician taps into Facebook (and the paranormal)

May 26, 2009 |  9:29 am
Annabel Linquist poses in a Swedish meadow. Credit: Daniel Karlsson

For Annabel Linquist, launching a music career requires little more than a computer for recording, online social media for promotion and psychic powers for, uh, inspiration.

Equipped with a secondhand acoustic guitar and a Mac computer, the Manhattan painter records made-to-order love songs for customers looking to score some romance points with a significant other.

Linquist is a self-professed non-musician, but her social networking savvy is earning her a quick buck through frank, charming, uncomplicated music.

Take, for example, the song "I Heart Sydney."

"Sydney, Sydney, you're so pretty," Linquist intones sweetly. "Red hair goes with pink / Sydney, girl, you're super bouncy / I heard you're a singer, too."

Or listen to the sour-sweet "I Heart Addy."

"Adelaide, Adelaide / Do you like lemonade? / Your aunt got you a serenade to tell you that she loves you / A serenade is when someone sings a song of love to you / because they think you're really great / And this song is for you."

The project started with a simple message to a friend that turned into something more.

"I was going to make a post on my friend's Facebook wall," she said, "and then I thought, I could just write her a song in five minutes."

When requests for custom songs began pouring in, Linquist charged $12 per song, and composed short love ballads under the alias Gretel Prinn. She posted each little ditty to the music-sharing service iLike -- a popular app for sharing music on Facebook.

She eventually received so many orders for the custom "I heart" tracks that she decided to raise the price -- from $12 to $50 and eventually ...

... settling at $130 per custom song.

"I was just trying to make less people buy them," Linquist said.

But even at that price, she still receives the occasional order.

Each one takes between 15 minutes to an hour to write and record, she said. But she is adamant that the work is still quite taxing.

That's because she composes by channeling her psychic powers -- no, "intuitive," she said, correcting herself. "I don't like that word 'psychic.'"

"I know that sounds strange," she said. "But I think that's why people are loving their songs -- because I'm able to kind of really get to the heart of whoever the person is."

Now, she's using the popularity of her Lo-fi Love Songs project to release a real record. She's working with a producer and starting a small independent record label. As Gretel Prinn, she's hoping to launch a music career as grass-roots and indie as her love songs.

"Me, my computer and my wireless," Linquist said. "I have access to the same distribution as the labels."

Well, except for music stores. Not that most people under 25 have heard of those.

-- Mark Milian