If you are a business owner, a marketer, a concerned individual or all of the above it probably occurred to you that “community” is a buzz word that is generally misunderstood depending on where you stand.
Building a community is hard work. And, like any endeavor, without clear goals the chances of success are slim to none.
When defining a goal there are usually more questions than answers. What can easily be missed is in this process is the underlying intent behind the action.
Are you honest with yourself about why you want to build a community? Is it for money? Is it to satisfy your ego? Is it altruistic? Is it to amass power?
It can be all or none of the above.
Beyond understanding the building blocks needed to create a community (barrier to entry, influence, shared emotional values etc), it is important to be clear about your underlying motivation as well. Clarity of purpose (intent) and motivation will guide your every move going forward. Success will require following a predetermined road map along with enough gas in the tank to get you there. Intent and motivation provides the fuel needed to make the journey.
It’s a funny thing about human beings: we all perceive information differently and to a large degree will spin information so that it falls in line with existing beliefs (confirmation bias).
In “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell talks about our innate ability to determine truth from fiction based upon facial muscles, instinct, context etc. No longer is “do as I say, not as I do” a valid strategy. This falseness will be apparent to everyone. Like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, let’s hope you are not the last to know.
Building a sustainable community requires being clear about your intent and motivation. The quickest way to discover that is to look inward with honesty. Your audience/community will then be able to determine if the value you offer warrants their attention. If they choose to participate it will because they perceive that membership is of higher value than the real or implied “barrier to entry”.
How do you stand out? How do you become memorable?
Think about the waitress who has a spark in her eye…the one who goes out of her way to make you feel special, the one who you think is best at what she does. If a specific person comes to mind it means she has been successful in creating a connection with you. This connection will appear effortless and authentic. You understand who she is, her passion for what she does and the value she places on her relationship with you. Her “brand” has made an impression.
Branding is about how you are perceived and how other people feel when they recall the experience of their encounter with you or your product. Therefore it is the experience of the human connection that is important.
Today the consumer is in charge of the conversation…not the business. An online “conversation” can literally happen in a millisecond. We scan because our attention is our most valuable asset. We engage only if it is important enough to invest our time and attention.
GETTING YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS
Focus is everything. The reader must be able to determine who you are, what you offer, how you do it and whether or not they choose to participate in a matter of seconds. . Following basic branding principles helps you focus your presentation. It will help you discover what makes you unique by forcing you to think differently about how you present yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
What are your core values? How do you support these values? What is your promise to your reader/client? Can you define the culture of your business? Describe your personality? What do you aspire to? Define how your characteristics makes you unique?
Asking yourself these questions (going through a branding process) will keep your messaging clear and concise.
You are not an inanimate object. You are a person. Branding is only a tool to help you express yourself. Make connections with people (through authentic, concise messaging) and your brand value will rise.
What is your strategy to succeed and do you have a social media strategy to help you advance your career as a composer? Ever thought about it in those terms?
Ever wondered why you aren’t getting traction?
Never forget: It’s all about relationships. Period.
It’s a given that competition is tough. There are certainly more applicants than jobs available. How can you create an edge?
Improve your interpersonal skills.
Rather than focus on “please give me a job” (as we all do from time to time) shift your thinking. Focus your energies creating connections–not jobs.
If you are like me, for the most part I feel most comfortable when I’m working, alone in my studio. As a result, it has taken great effort on my part to improve my interpersonal skills to where I can: walk up to anyone and start a conversation, ask questions, engage them in a conversation and walk away knowing more about them than they know about me. Sometimes things click, mostly not. At the very least if I meet someone and they walk away with a positive experience I feel that it was a successful encounter…giving myself the opportunity to potentially work with them in the future.
People like to work with people they know and feel comfortable with.
Sales is a numbers game. You are not going to work for everyone you meet. FYI Direct mail conversion rates are about 1-2%. Click through for online ads is about .10 of 1% (1 out of 1000). But, just like dating, the more you do it the more confidence you will have which increases your potential of success.
How can social media help you? You can virtually reach more people online than in person. Use comment threads, status updates, tweets to share your personal brand. Readers will develop an image of who you are, what you stand for if you are consistent about the way you share information online. And, of course, the music you make.
Who knows who you will meet? More importantly- you never know where seemingly chance encounters will lead.
I don’t need to be concerned about the business of music-
You can call me “Schroeder”. I spent my youth playing the piano incessantly. I started writing songs when I was about 9. Most every waking hour I had a radio blaring in my head. I couldn’t stop it. So, I spent all my time pursuing that which I could not ignore…making music.
Because I had developed skills as a musician and was gifted with talent, opportunities presented themselves and I started working as a musician at 14. By the time I reached college I was a “working musician”. Even so, my goal was not to make money. My interest was always to find a way to stay immersed in the art of making music. This desire to led me to leave college the first chance I had to go on the road. I didn’t really care how much they paid me- I probably would have done it for free!
Setting myself up…for disaster.
Fast forward to years later. I had been working steadily for years…not because I had a great business acumen but actually in spite of it. I had an employable skill, was dependable and, for the most part, easy to work with. Things were great- until there was a problem with the business side of things. Because I had not paid attention to “the business of music” I found myself in numerous situations I was totally unprepared for.
The constant dilemma for the artistic person is to “balance”their need for expression with the pragmatism required to make a living.
In a perfect world I would wake up every morning and joyfully make music all day. “Oh… what a wonderful world it would be.”
Unfortunately the business or “your” business has to be taken care of just like any chore. If you have support staff: business managers, agents, managers, copyists, programmers, tech support, musicians, accountants, they have to be managed. You must maintain and be in control of yourself in the relationships with those you work with.
A few things to consider:
- Not everyone is a “friend”.
- Confide only in those you trust
- Be clear and focused about the job you are asked to do- if you don’t understand…ask questions.
- If you are going to subcontract or look for help be “specific” about what you expect from them.
- Use the golden rule with everyone you work with. This is terribly important. Your reputation precedes you. If you rip someone off, sooner or later it will come back to you. Conversely if you treat everyone with respect and integrity you will have more time to spend on music rather then wondering what people are saying about you. This is now more important than ever due to the transparency of the internet.
To manage your team effectively you need to be comfortable with basic business principles such as:
- read your contracts- fine print too!
- understand the “actual” roles of all those involved (agents, managers, copyists, etc) and how they relate to one another
- knowing how to budget your time and money.
- understand the “market value” of the services you provide.
You may be wondering about why business acumen is important? Today not only are we required to be expert musicians- we have to also create and manage a personal “brand”. I’ll go into branding in a future post.
The takeaway from today’s blog should be: understand business to the extent that you can operate effectively with those you work with and take care of yourself in the process.
Don’t kid yourself: this is difficult for everyone!
But- it is not insurmountable.