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Russian Rock Star Talks About His Social Network

Ilya Lagutenko at the George Washington University

Ilya Lagutenko at the George Washington University

A Russian rock group “Mumiy Troll” is one of the oldest and most popular in the country. Founded in 1983 in Vladivostok by the group's vocalist and songwriter Ilia Lagutenko (41) a.k.a. Mumiy Troll,  the band still enjoys a wide recognition in Russia. Their concerts continue to attract thousands of people. Lagutenko successfully plays in movies and tours many countries.

Mumiy Troll is also active in humanitarian field. He was the first to support the activities of the PSI, a non-profit humanitarian organization, to fight AIDS in Russia. He is also an advocate for environmental protection and conservation policies. In November 2009, just few hours before his concert in Washington, D.C., Lagutenko attended a meeting at the World Bank as a patron of the British-Russian Amur fund for the protection of Amur tigers and leopards.

Ilya Lagutenko at the George Washington UniversityAside from that, there is one more field where Mumiy Troll sets the tone. It's the Internet. Besides its Web page, Myspace and Facebook fan community,  Wikipedia entry and a good amount of fans on Livejournal, the group has its own social network Ikra.tv founded three years ago.

Ikra.tv currently consists of  about 6,500 members. It offers various forms of communications for the fans including blogs, forums and different options to share music, pictures and videos.

An hour before his meeting at the World Bank, Ilya Lagutenko met with few dozens of students from the George Washington University. He also sat down with GV to answer some questions.
GV: Why have you decided to found your own social network? What is its purpose?

Ikra.tv is the place of interaction for our fans who love “Mumiy Troll” but are not limited by “Mumiy Troll.” They have their own projects and mind-sets and need to have a place where they could continue those interactions. […] They need a place where they can exchange their opinions and understand that they have something in common. They need to place where they can understand that their ideas mean something. They just need to figure out what to do next.

It's been a couple of years since Ikra.tv launched. I watch how it is being developed. I understand that there are some technical difficulties but we are just a rock group and not a firm for technological development. We don't have resources to take the networks to a new level but I am sure that the fans can get together and have, say,  one entrepreneur, one technical person and one musician to create something. With this social network, we just set an example and those people can take this example and do something better and more effective.

As a musician, I always run into the same issues. People give me a CD and ask me to listen to it. I can certainly listen to it but I cannot do anything except expressing my opinion about the music. I am not a record studio. I don't have the best friend who is a great producer and whom I can ask to promote someone. We are a small group and we share many responsibilities. We just don't have physical capacity to build an Internet music empire.

Have you considered writing a blog or some kind of Internet diary?

Frankly, I am not a writer who can dedicate a lot of time to create something. I write songs and I treat them like my blogs. And I like it better this way. I like this form. We are talking to each other now and I am talking a lot… But this time can be spent for writing a song that will stay for long out there and that will bring more emotions to people. I will be more interested in doing this because it is harder to do.

Lagutenko is certainly not a geek. He also doesn’t treat his social network as a way to communicate with his fans. He said he didn't want to interfere with the life of the social network. Lagutenko perceives himself and his music as a common denominator that can unite people with similar interests and create a new space of communication. He said his responsibility are not to interact with fans and support the social network but primarily create new songs that can serve as new elements for the community's identity.

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