Last updated on July 24th, 2022
In any creative endeavor, it is those who build strong communities who are most likely to see their platforms grow over time. Certainly, anybody can pick up an instrument, learn to play, and become adept enough at engineering and/or performing to put their music out into the world in some form. However, without building a strong support system of collaborators, patrons, and professional contacts, it becomes much more difficult to have your work reach and impact larger audiences.
If you’re going to put all of that work in, you might as well share it with other people. To do that, you must think about how your music – and all it encompasses – will help connect you to your audience. You must work to build community.
Your community is out there.
Embarking on a creative endeavor can feel lonely, at times. Your friends and family might not understand your newfound vision. They may criticize or even belittle you for deciding you have one.
Virtual show of hands: how many of you reading have dealt with pushback from loved ones while sharing your pie-in-the-sky dreams?
I can’t see your hands, but I would imagine that most – if not all – of you raised a hand. Maybe even two.
Let me ask a follow-up question: how many of you have felt discouraged – or even fearful – of sharing your vision with others as a result of that negative feedback?
Again, I’m assuming most of you raised your hands. It’s a natural part of the creative journey – especially in the beginning. We all meet resistance, from time to time.
However, I implore you not to let that resistance stand in the way of you or your dreams. For every person in your life (or on the internet) who has something negative to say, there are just as many – if not more – who will find you, your art, and your story relatable. There are countless people out there who, if given the chance, will draw inspiration from your story, as they work to maneuver through their own journeys.
That’s great to know, isn’t it?
So… how do you find them?
First, you must understand your mission, vision, and values.
What are you here to do? What type of community – and world – do you wish to create? How does that all connect back to your core beliefs?
Those questions may seem a bit grandiose for someone just starting to get their feet wet in the musical landscape. You might say, “I’m trying to learn new chords and start writing songs, and you want me to think about the mark I want to leave on the world?”
Yes. In doing that work, you will better understand and more capably connect to the essence of who you are. In the process, it will start to bleed into your creative output, which will naturally resonate with individuals of similar values. Art, at its core, is a vehicle for human expression. You might as well use it to express (and connect) yourself to those likely to pick up what you’re putting down.
BUT… your platform must be about something bigger than you!
Yes, you’re the one writing, recording, releasing, and performing the songs. You’re the one creating the content. You’re creating a window into your life with everything you do, and your name might even be all over the platform.
However, for people to remain engaged, they must develop a deeper connection with something that resonates with them. Your music is a great place to start creating that connection; it is a vehicle of communicating truths that are just as much about our shared human experience as they are about you. It doesn’t stop there, though.
If you want to build a strong community that not only withstands the test of time, but continues to grow, consider:
- Using your platform to elevate the creatives around you: The rising tide raises all boats. Surely, there are other musicians and creatives in your community whose work and values you admire – even if, to this point, you’ve only admired them from afar. Use your platform to shout out their hard work and show them some love.
P.S.: Our friends at Music on the Move Studios – who, among many other talents, are excellent music teachers – provide a shining example of what it means to use the platforms they’ve built as artists to elevate those around them. They recently launched their own blog, which provides updates from the artists in their community, as well as educational tips, vendor spotlights, and more. Feel free to head over there to get inspired!
- Building genuine relationships: With your fans. With your fellow artists. With others in (and outside) of the industry. Take the time to understand what makes them tick and how you can support them. Remember: before we are assigned any persona – fan, artist, industry guru, or otherwise – each of us is a human being with our own thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. Get to know the people in your midst on a human level, and you will understand how to better use your platform to serve.
- Connecting your music to a worthy cause: Identify a non-profit within your community whose mission you admire. Perform on (or even curate) a benefit event in their honor. Donate a percentage of your merch sales to their annual fundraising drive. Use your social and digital platforms to share their updates and highlight their cause. Doing any (or all) of these things will not only help you build strong community partnerships over time, but will connect you to other members of your community who support similar causes.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find your audience – especially as you’re still defining your authentic vision for yourself. If all else fails, listen to your intuition; it will guide you toward what feels right to you, and bring you into greater alignment with your values. Over time, this powerful knowledge will help you create meaningful work that is sure to resonate with someone.
Heck, maybe even multiple someones! You’ll never know until you begin creating…