We are all in the same boat. We all are being forced to adapt to the blistering pace of change we see in the world. It’s unsettling, it’s scary, and, worst of all, nobody knows what will happen next. Alvin Toffler predicted that we would live in a state of “cultural anxiety” in Future Shock. Who would have known that what he predicted in 1970 would come true?
For many, death is something to be feared…hence the massive pain we see in the world as we witness the end of the Industrial Age. And why is it that death is promoted as the ultimate “dark” experience? Are we even aware of what is dying?
It appears that the 300 lb. gorilla in the room is that what we have known to be true is not only being questioned, it’s dying. (Kubler-Ross talked about grief in her famous book: “On Death and Dying” ).
Fear not…what is dying is what we are conditioned to believe…not life itself.
Life constantly moves forward regardless whether we like it or not. Engaging fully with life is the hard part…especially when we are desperately holding on to the past to make sense out of our future.
Accepting is to let go. It is impossible to truly accept and be fearful.
If you understand the process of grieving you will be on your way to accepting your current circumstance.
The fascinating thing is if you let go, you won’t break. You will be set free.
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”.
What is community? How do we define it? Do we actually know what it is? Ever thought about why we as humans think it is important? With a big h/t to Greg Lexiphanic here are a few thoughts to consider. I will try to paraphrase this great ebook. For more detail please go here
Key criteria to establish a “sense of community” (as defined by David McMillan & David Chavis- “sense of community: a theory and definition”) are:
1. Membership 2. Influence 3. Fulfilment of needs 4. Shared emotional connection.
For a community to exist members must experience a sense of community.
How can you create a community around who you are, your business, your interests? Take the time to understand how these 4 elements relate to each other and what they mean individually.
Membership implies exclusivity (a barrier to entry or boundary). Either you are in or you are out. Implied in membership is a trust that you will be safe and taken care of within the boundaries and definitions of the group.
Influence is gained by having an affecting change on the group. Influence is only achieved by listening as well as expressing your beliefs.
“People who acknowledge that others’ needs, values, and opinions matter to them are often the most influential group members, while those who always push to influence, try to dominate others, and ignore the wishes and opinions of others are often the least powerful members.” —McMillan & Chavis, 1986
The fuel to drive a community is reinforcement. To receive reinforcement requires participation by the members. If participation focuses on the betterment of the group then reinforcement and a “sense of community” can be achieved. it is a two way street of give and take within the boundaries created by the group. No matter which side of the coin you are on (giving or receiving), if you feel fulfilled by taking part, the group will fill satisfy your need to belong and a bond will develop.
Shared Emotional Connection. There is a great line from the film Local Color that talks about art: “A shared experience is more meaningful than one experienced alone.”
Why is it we seek out group experience rather than isolation?
Intimacy, acknowledgement, sharing of views in a defined format, reward for your investment of time and energy and spiritual bonding ties us together in groups creating a more powerfulexperience than trying to do it alone. Its why we identify with an join groups in the first place. We are tribal animals…it is intrinsic to our nature.
Attempting to create an online or offline community is difficult and time consuming. However, the rewards can be far outweigh the investment. The pot of gold will come from the bonds you create in your community.
Look at your business and personal relationships. Question the drivers and quality of the interactions, what value you derive from feeling connected and reward you receive in return.. Most of us blithely stumble into situations that are driven by habit and conditioning rather than conscious thought.
The opportunity for all of us who are interested in creating community is not only to succeed but also the learn more about ourselves.
Is being “cool” a subjective term? For some, being cool is as attractive as a flame to a moth. For others it is something to be avoided. Whatever your opinion we all think of it as a “mysterious quality” that some people have and others don’t.
Don’t believe it. Being “cool” is a combination of three personality traits. And, regardless of your natural aptitudes your “coolness” can be nurtured and refined.
What makes somebody “cool”?
Having discipline, willpower and the ability to focus attention.
Like most patients I instantly feel more comfortable when my doctor comes into the exam room if I sense he is in control of his emotions, unflappable and can focus their attention on me, rather than the multitude of distractions available. In this instance being able to focus your attention really means being able to listen attentively.
Why is attentive listening “cool”?
Focusing your attention while listening is when the magic happens. Focused attention opens the door to making real and lasting connections. It is only after such a connection is made that you can be truly compassionate and empathetic. As the world continues to change at such a dramatic pace our attraction to authentic relationships will become more and more important. Great value can be derived by simply by listening well. Without even realizing it your “cool” factor will increase.
Why is discipline “cool”?
We all face difficult situations. Those who maintain their self-control usually manage to navigate through rough waters while those who react emotionally will have a more difficult time. The phrase: “cool under fire” comes to mind. Don’t we all prefer to be around people who seem unflappable?
Determination is defined as a “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end”. Why is Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson or any other successful athlete or performer deemed “cool?” They have all used their willpower and determination to achieve their goals. We instinctively gravitate towards winners because at some level we want to share in and identify with their success.
And why is being “cool” so important?
We have reached a milestone as a culture. Almost without exception we have learned to spot a phony a mile away. We no longer will accept being sold a bill of goods.
Using social media effectively requires that you offer the reader something more than what you receive in return. What better than to offer them the chance to experience an authentic connection? Now that would really be “cool”!
Increasing your “cool” factor is not mysterious. It’s actually rather simple:
- Listen with focused attention (enabling authentic connections)
- Strive to be disciplined (staying on message)
- Never give up (pursuing your goals)
How will that change lives?
You will undoubtedly affect the lives of those around you. And, you may realize one day that you are, in fact, pretty cool!
Truth be told? Creating a Top Ten List about art is a dubious and pretentious endeavor at best. My goal was to create a format to be able to share my life and experiences in an effort to spur your mind and help you on your way.
Dreams. Goals. Desires….
…we all have them. Maybe you want to be famous? Maybe you want to be rich? Or, maybe you have such passion for the work that all you want to do is to have the opportunity to be engaged in the process of doing it more regularly.
If I were presumptuous to give you advice it would be these two things:
- be yourself!
- never, ever, stop learning
Think about it. There is only one of you. That, by definition, makes you unique. Celebrate and embrace your individuality. This is what will differentiate you from everyone else! The hardest thing for any artist to do is to understand and be clear about who they are. Give yourself some time for reflection to figure out who you are and what you want to be.
What do I have to do to “make it”?
If there is a “myth” we haven’t discussed it would being successful in life (let alone being a film composer) is not a destination to reach. It is a process to engage in!
There will always be new challenges to face, hurdles to leap and mountains to climb. Embrace these as problems to solve. Remember that very few problems do not have answers….they may just be difficult for you to see. I am very confident that if you are engaged in writing music for film that you are a “creative problem solver”. Learn to apply this special skill to everything obstacle you face and I guarantee you will be surprised at the results.
I’ve talked about branding, marketing and sales…methods to help you reach your goals.
There are no guarantees in the music business OR life! It may sound trite but remember that expectations not met create disappointments.
- Be engaged in the process without attachment to a specific result.
- Be in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or fantasizing about the future.
- Be kind and generous with everyone you meet…you never know when they will re-emerge in your life.
- Being an artist is a noble endeavor…one that feeds your soul and affects all who listen to your work.
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.
…For The Holidays- “We Three Kings”
I’m enjoying this process …but I have to tell you it is much more difficult than I had expected. That being said I hope you appreciate my efforts.
The Holiday Season means different things to everyone.
For children itâ€™s filled with excitement and anticipation-
Parents, while being stressed out, most always delight in the smiles and joy of their children.
For grandparents itâ€™s a time for reflection of days gone by-wistful, warm, sad, regretful, proudâ€¦a sea of emotions.
I decided that I would do an album of Holiday and Christmas music that I felt strongly aboutâ€¦emotions that I could personally relate to
And share with you
While contemplating what to do it occurred to me that I should present this in a way that made you, the listener, feel like I was in your living room playing in the background while friends and family gathered.
Iâ€™ll be posting a new track every few days or week until Thanksgiving when the album will be available for download.
Thanks again for listening
If you send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org I will reply with a link for you to download this track.