Shane Barr is an Ireland college student who conducted the following interview for a class project. The interview took place in January 2015 with Timothy Cox, the founder of Radio ARTPOP and POPULOVE.net.
Shane: What inspired you to start Radio ARTPOP?
Tim: It was just a crazy random happenstance. Nothing really inspired me to start Radio ARTPOP. We had a different show called Radio ARTFLOP that was supposed to be a podcast. We were just making fun of the rumors that people were making about Lady Gaga during her blackout, after she broke her hip. Then once she came back into the music scene a few months later, we decided to change it into Radio ARTPOP and talk about what was going on with the new album and what kind of direction she was going in and the fans’ overall thoughts about it. Then boom, she started watching, and I was like “Oh no! We can’t stop now” (laughs).
When was the moment that Radio ARTPOP really started to pick up, popularity wise?
Tim: There was one week in August of 2013 that we were doing a regular show, which was Monday nights at 8 p.m. EST, and towards the end of our hour-long show my co-host says “Hold on guys. A song leaked!” and we’re like “No, there’s no way a song leaked in the one hour we’re on each week. There’s no way.” It actually ended up being a demo of “Aura,” which is the first track on Gaga’s album ARTPOP, and we went viral that day. I remember sitting in my bed thinking “Oh my god, what is happening?” At one point I jumped so high on my bed in excitement as the video kept going up and up on littlemonsters.com and on YouTube that I hit my head on the ceiling. From then on, we had a viewership. Everyone loved watching all of us hear this new song that no one expected us to hear for the first time on camera, and the odds of that happening for us were never even thought of. It was a pretty crazy moment for us to get attention from.
Has she made any interaction with you?Tim: Since Gaga and her team saw the video of us reacting to the song leak, Gaga has gone out of her way to mention us on Twitter. She actually gave us snippets of the album ARTPOP before the album was out, for us to listen to for the first time ever and share with all her fans online through our show. She mentioned us in an interview in the UK actually, on Graham Norton. I got to go to her album release party in New York City. I was one of the fans that was invited which… how lucky was that? Then I got to meet her in May of last year so she could film a video for us as a little introduction for the show. So she’s done a lot.That is a lot! Have you had any other projects recognized by celebrities?Tim: I ran an online trivia contest in 2008 to 2010 for Joss Whedon fans. Joss Whedon is the creator of hit TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse. Hit movie Serenity and writer and director of the new Avengers movie series. He recognized the trivia contest I was doing and actually donated a prize for our Christmas contest one year, and I got a letter in the mail from his assistant thanking me for the work I was doing for his fans. I also did a book of fan letters and fan art for Chris Colfer from Glee and ended up getting to meet him eight times that year and interview him on the phone. The last time I met him was when I gave him the fan book, and he was like “I’ve been waiting for this!” I have a skill of bringing people together, and I like to use that for celebrities and their fans.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
Tim: Yes, I’m actually working on a new website called POPULOVE.net. When Radio ARTPOP got popular, we found that there are smaller communities of fans within each artists’ fan bas,e and our show really appealed to the community of fans inside of Gaga’s Little Monster that want to help each other, inspire each other, show off their creativity and change the world. So the point of POPULOVE.net is to find that community of fans within every mainstream pop music artist’s fan base and bring them all together with pop music news, stories about them. It’s a website that focuses specifically on what their doing to make their communities better online, as well as things that would help them individually live a better life and help other people live better lives. I’m using what I learned from the audience that I gained with Radio ARTPOP to really reach out to teenagers and young adults all over the world who like any pop music artist to bring them together and do something for the world. That launches February 1st.
Your social presence online is almost constant. You put a lot of time and effort into what you do. What is it that you do in your free time?
Tim: A lot of people would consider what I do right now for work as what I do in my free time. Web design, social media marketing — which to most people is just Facebook posts and tweeting. I use social networks and community websites to promote myself and to promote what I’m working on, and that’s what most of my time is spent on when I’m not writing. If I am not working on that, I’m still usually on my computer either watching Netflix or listening to music. I listen to music a lot. I listen to music constantly, even when I work. Some people whistle while they work, but I sing while I work. It can be a pretty boring life. I like to hang out with friends a lot, but I’m bouncing from state to state and country to country so often that I don’t always have friends in my area.
Have you received any negative attention because of Radio ARTPOP?
Tim: Well as I’ve said before, inside of every fan base there are little communities of fans that share similar beliefs or similar mindsets as to what the artists should do or what the fans should be like. There is a stigma inside of Gaga’s fan base that if you are a fan that Gaga gives a lot of attention to then you must be rich. The first fan she called out ever as her super fan was supposedly spending his college money, money that was supposed to go towards his living area at college, on going to see Gaga around the world. The monster she seems to spend the most time with now or sees the most often is actually rich, and no one really knows anything about him whatsoever other than that he has money and shows up at different places. So because of these two people getting so much attention from her, they got so much attention from the fan base. Now any fan that Gaga reaches out to and gives more attention to than the average Monster receives that kind of backlash that you must be rich, you must be snobby, you must think you’re entitled, something along those lines, and none of its true. I’m as far from rich as I’ve ever been right now. My bank account is negative 16 dollars. I’m part of the community inside of this fan base that doesn’t care about money, and the people who aren’t in that community have a hard time believing that community exists. So yes, there’s been negative backlash, negative attention, but not anything I let bother me.
Since the start of your success, what has been the most surreal thing that has happened?
Tim: The most surreal thing that has happened would definitely be walking through the doors backstage at Gaga’s concert to meet her just as a one-on-one, me and her, and the first thing she says to me is “Tim! I’m so excited to finally get to meet you! How are you?” That was surreal.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
Tim: I want POPULOVE to be a business that is succeeding on its own, that employs people of the same humanitarian and activism mindset that I have and that these small communities of fans have, and also provide internships to college or university students around the world. I want to set pop music artists up for interviews with some of their biggest fans.