While the music industry is often described as a cutthroat dog-eat-dog world (and this certainly can be the case) there is much to be said for the power of community, and what working productively with others in the industry can do to buoy your chances of success.
Let me know if you’ve heard this one before: “the music industry is a cut throat business.” I’m sure you’ve all heard that (and felt it) since your entry into the industry. Is it valid? Sure. It really can be an unforgiving, selfish place. But it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be.
When I first started my venture into this industry, it was all I heard. My friends were so beaten down about all of the unfair, unethical, unreasonable things they had to do to get noticed, knowing that if they didn’t, someone else would be right behind them to take their spot. That’s no way to live and it’s certainly not sustainable. Yet, I spent four years in this industry until I finally realized that it wasn’t all like that. That there was a solution to the long nights feeling alone, the worries that no one really had your back, the daunting idea that you had to do everything alone—the answer was and is community. So how do you do that? How do you find your community, and in it, how do you thrive?
Rule #1: Give
Before we get going, it’s important to mention that for any of this to truly have an impact, you have to be willing to give more than you take. That means acknowledging that building community, and building relationships is a process that grows and shows results over time. Spending an hour commenting on Facebook posts or 30 minutes talking to a new fan at a show are all great steps, but they won’t do enough on their own. It’s the consistency of doing that every day over the long term and meaning it hat leads to long term success.
Find (or start) an in-person meet up
In the age of the internet, in person meet ups are still the most powerful way to build and maintain long lasting bonds. I was lucky enough to stumble upon an incredible in person weekly meet up in San Francisco called Balanced Breakfast when I was just starting my PR company, and I credit SO much of my initial and continued success to that community. Check around for meet ups—if there’s not a Balanced Breakfast in your city, ask around in Facebook groups, on social media, and at shows. The best way to find out about happenings in your city are through other people. And if one doesn’t exist—start it yourself! It doesn’t have to be a big production, just a few people getting together over coffee to talk shop, seek advice, and support one another’s dreams.
Join as many community based Facebook Groups as possible
Facebook Groups are one of the best ways to connect with others and cultivate a sense of community in an otherwise kind of lonely feeling internet. While Twitter and Instagram are great for finding new connections and beginning to build relationships, when you join a Facebook Group that has a focus on community (IE not a group just filled with bands spamming each other) it’s a chance to really connect with others (usually around the world—that’ll come in handy when touring), and begin to build a reputation and a presence. Make sure to get involved and comment on people’s posts at least a few times a week with insightful answers. The more detailed, personal, and real they are, the more memorable you’ll be.
Here are a few of my favorite groups to get you started.
Help One Another
This one is important—community only works if you are an active participant, meaning you’re willing to help others, and in turn, trust that they have your back. Too often I see people refusing to help one another because they’re afraid that helping someone takes away an opportunity that might have otherwise been theirs.
First of all, that’s incredibly selfish and second, it’s not true. Helping someone else get closer to their dreams doesn’t mean you’re getting further away from yours. The true power of community is in working together. It’s in knowing that we have one another’s backs, that we don’t view each other as competition but rather as friends, and in knowing that we’re all in this together. Because we are, and believe me, together really is better.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.