When you begin something new, you’re always on the lookout for keys to make “the new” work better and grow. That’s inherent to the process of creating and building. Once you’ve been doing something for a while, you amend your processes to be more efficient and operate better. And after building something for a long period of time (let’s say over a decade), you’re able to reflect back and see some of the key elements to what made your work successful.
I’ve been working with musicians for over ten years (hence the time illustration), particularly through the medium of indie radio. In that time I’ve also built and grown The Appetizer Radio Show to international syndication, been a part of some great concerts, collaborated on music events, and worked closely with artists on establishing their unique brand.
I spent some time this week reflecting on what has made all of these endeavors successful over the years, not just for me as an individual, but also for the artists and bands I’ve been privileged to work with. What I found was what I believe to be the #1 key to ongoing success no matter who you are, where you live, how widespread your platform is, or the size of your following.
You know what that key is? It’s a cultivated and enriched community.
Public radio has been a great resource for me, as it has for many individuals both in the arts as well as other business. As a former station manager, I got to experience first hand the dynamic power of community members coming together in support of a platform that brought something powerful to our region every day. The impact that the station had on individuals was supported in immense ways through a group of very dedicated and loyal individuals.
Experiencing how community can come together when it’s responding to a need is what has fueled the rise of crowdfunding and social media. All it takes is having your best message presented clearly to the people who want and need to experience it. This is where the cultivation and enrichment part comes in.
We’re no strangers to the concept of community building. We do it everyday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online portals. We build community daily with people we have never met in person, nor spoken with on the phone. Our community members share a common passion, interest, belief, or other similarity that binds us together. Cultivating community is a different ballgame than simply being a part of community. Cultivation requires a mixture of listening and sharing, remembering what it is that people confide in you and a commitment to helping out when called upon.
Our social communities can be a great way to engage people. But cultivation is best exhibited when you can meet in person. This is why artists starting out and in the first few years of their careers need to focus on their local community and region. You decide how wide of a spread for your region you want to reach. I encourage musicians to extend their area up to a 50 mile radius if they don’t live close to a high populated area. This gives you more opportunity to grow your network with the right people who will follow and support you.
Cultivating these connections leads to more diverse interaction online through social channels, and makes communication a little easier. Enrichment opportunities happen in live performances where your music is experienced first-hand. House shows are one of the best places to start (and continue in a broader aspect).
Community enrichment comes from both the community you live in geographically, and the sub-community you build with your art. Supporting and collaborating with other artists in your area is one of the best ways to build and nurture these communities. Relationships are what create new opportunities in everything we do. The better you can get at cultivating relationships, the more success and longevity you will find yourself with, and the stronger connection you’ll have to the communities that matter most to you.