Sask. musician promoted via Google Street View

A Saskatoon musician looking to promote an upcoming album has succeeded in getting his picture on the new Street View feature of Google Maps.

Musician followed Google car, learned pattern, then raced ahead to set up his act and placard

This is a screen shot from Street View, prepared by Google Maps. Nate Heagy was able to position himself in time for the Google car to snap his picture.
A Saskatoon musician looking to promote an upcoming album has succeeded in getting his picture on the new Street View feature of Google Maps.

Nate Heagy, 30, works as a software developer for a Saskatoon company when he isn't perfecting his music.

In an interview with CBC News, Heagy described his sound as "a kind of indie-rock/semi-electronic music."

Heagy said he is working on a debut album and assembling players to perform live in his band, Fear Salesman.

"One of the hardest things, beyond making music, is how to get people to hear it," Heagy said, noting that while the audience for his style of music may be limited, reaching anyone can be a challenge.

"Promoting a band is hard. And all the while I've been working on the album I've been trying to think of how I can promote it — how I can get noticed.

"When Google announced that Street View was coming to Saskatoon, a light bulb went on," he said. "I just thought Street View would allow anyone on any corner to be seen by any number of people anywhere."

Hatching the plan was one thing, execution was another.

"I figured Saskatoon's not that big, I could probably find the Google car if I really wanted to," he said. "So I built a sign, and kept it in the trunk of my car."

Heagy said he enlisted friends to keep an eye out for the vehicle and to call him if they spotted something with a large camera mounted on a tripod on the roof.

As it turned out, Heagy was having lunch one day and saw the Google car himself. He rushed to his own car to catch up to it and figure out where it would be going.

Watched for a pattern

He said it took some time to find the car and then observe it enough to anticipate where it would be.

Before too long, Heagy said, he was ready to make his move and drove ahead of the Google car.

"I quickly set up the sign, brought out the guitar and started playing," he said. "And the car drove by. And then I actually drove on to another corner and did the same thing."

That was in the spring of 2009.

When Google launched Saskatoon's Street View in November, Heagy says he quickly went to the site to see if his gambit paid off.

"As soon as I saw me with the sign, I just hollered and was cheering because it was a lot of effort and a long wait to see if it had even worked, this crazy idea I had," Heagy said with a chuckle. "There it was. It was kind of fulfilling."

Nate Heagy says he knew Google would blur his face on its map feature and supplied a picture of himself to CBC News.
Heagy noted his face was blurred, but expected that because of Google's privacy policies. However, his sign was clearly visible.

"The whole point is that curious people will, maybe, look for the music and find it," Heagy said. "And curious people, I think, are the kind of people who will like my style of music."

Heagy said he has not heard of anyone else trying, on their own, to appear in a Google Street View image.

He has heard of organized efforts, co-ordinated with Google, of citizens of a community posing in a parade for the camera.

"I haven't found anyone else doing it kind of rogue style," Heagy said.