I know that my articles lately have been kind of bitter, and as I ride out a caffeine high I feel the need to rectify that. I wanted to take a minute to talk about one of the most important aspects of the music industry, if not the most important aspect – the community. This isn’t an article about networking – though that certainly is a part of it. Nor is this an article about building a team to support your music, although that could certainly be seen as an aspect to it too. What this is an article about is how being everyones friend, family even, is always going to be a crucial part of advancing in an industry that is known for being tumultuous and oftentimes unkind.
What people to often forget is that we really have no choice but to be a community. We are a group of people who have come together not just because we are interested in the same things but rather because we have a pure heart wrenching passion for one thing. A passion that stops us from doing anything else – and in a way that’s kind of beautiful. It sees us working harder than ever to grow our names and work to produce a bold new future for our work. The people you see around you in the music industry aren’t just their for shits and giggles, they are there to help move the entire thing forward. They are there to grow the industry and remind us that there is an ethereal power to this whole thing. In other words -they are trying to do it for the same reasons that you are.
I think it’s important to remember this. Even though it often feels like a bunch of crap and like everyone is out to get you there is always a community there. If you look within yourself you can tell who is real and who is basically just a poser. You can figure out these things just by looking at how these people act and conduct themselves – how they carry forward and what they do to figure out their path in this crazy old mixed up universe of ours. Simply put – some people are not okay to work with – and you need to be aware of this. Those people don’t need to be a part of your community, instead you can self select and help to make sure that the people who take part in what you do are among the best of the best.
Don’t get me wrong though – I’m not saying that you should use your community of musicians as something to take advantage of. You shouldn’t be using it as a way to twist or manipulate your way into peoples hearts and heads to get more stuff for your band. There are a lot of people out there who you can take advantage of initially, but in the end if you don’t help them in return the will end up hating you. View your community as a natural resource, one that is immensely valuable but that you have to cultivate to really get the best out of. The community is something that we all owe our careers to because it is what allows us to get out there. We all know that you get out what you put in, even if that balance takes a while to assert itself it will assert itself, believe you me. You need to be aware of this when approaching your music community and you need to embrace that. You can’t just go around asking for favors, you need to get your buddies on a cool show now and then, or at least periodically buy them drinks.
Simply put – the community that you are in is everything. It is your future and your past. The reason you get to do what you do and the reason why it is worth carrying on. We are creating art that we all know will have a relatively niche market. We are creating art that is going to guide us all into brave new worlds – but relatively few people will enjoy it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how the market works these days. Yet that smallest slice of pie of the smallest slice of pie is going to be largely comprised of the musicians and music freaks around you who are working with you on creating great art, getting really drunk, and simply collaborating to benefit and grow the artistic process that we all love so much. So if you act like a jerk then everyone will know, and you are going to see your career suffer.
So get out there – it’s not hard to join the music community – in all honesty they probably are desperate for people who are dedicated and passionate about their work to join – most are. You enter and are accepted with open arms, and as long as you not only talk the talk but also walk the walk people are going to take notice, hail your hard work and help you move on to bigger and better opportunites. Setting up these kind of commmunities is not always easy – in fact it can be a right nightmare. But when you get down to it, having a community is really why humans do anything. So go out there – earn the respect you deserve and prepare to carry on, for better or for worse.