How isolated are you feeling?
People may be around you. Or silently hurtling through the air, appearing on your screen.
Yet you can feel lonely.
Remember your audience is also experiencing this.
Your creative work is a crucial way to help people reconnect. To help them explore and process their emotions. But most importantly, to be human.
But how can you start to do this?
Three years ago I was in a lecture given by the inquisitive Dave Camlin. It was exploring what a teaching musician could be for the future. One of my responses was the potential for musicians to be part of their community in a much deeper way.
Fast forward to last year. I read Mark Schaefer’s incredible book Marketing Rebellion. Chapter 6 leapt out at me “The Artisanal Brand”. It was how to start moving away from bland, overproduced, soulless marketing. Instead, pull your sleeves up and get involved in your local community.
This could be the perfect place for you to start as we come out of this lockdown.
But what does being in the community mean?
People are coming together locally. Either through formal channels of local government, or informal meetings and groups. They want to take action that will have a positive difference in their community. You can see, hear and feel the action taking place. People come together with shared values, vision and pride in where they live.
This is partly due to the lack of trust people have with various leaders. Whether they are governmental leaders, religious leaders, CEO’s or journalists.
People are more likely to trust other people in their local community. If you are from the same area, you are both invested in having a better future for each other. It’s a strong basis to build relationships.
You have the potential to connect with people in your local area to help make a positive change. You can show that you care and are wanting to invest in your community through your creativity.
What ingredients does this involve?
I’m not a huge fan of the term. But I love what it stands for and you will too. I’m an avid baker. I disappeared for a week to a remote Scottish farm to discover how to bake bread from a true artisan craftsman. The baker (Andrew) and his wife (Veronica) were advocates for sustainability. They grew their own food, shared it with their local community along with their bread. They set up heritage grain to be grown in Scotland. Everything they used, from bread baskets to paper where all sustainably sourced.
This farm attracted people from all over the world. But Andrew and Veronica’s priority was to teach Scottish communities. They showed their values through actions you could see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
This example has the hallmarks for Localism/Artisan Marketing:
- It is believable, natural, which people want to carry your message forward.
- It creates remarkable and meaningful personal experiences.
- It helps a cause, person or community.
So how can you do this as a musician?
“OF The Community”
Musicians working in their local community is not a new concept. You teach local people, at a local school and play in local gigs.
You can build an audience from your community. You have a shared common interest with other people because you live in the same area. It’s a strong emotional connecting point.
People love to support and celebrate their own. You don’t have to rely on social media to find and attract your audience. Instead, go out and meet people from your community.
Instead of bringing your music TO the community, make your music “OF the community”.
There are two fabulous examples of this:
The founders Jeremy Young and Daniel Bhattacharya chose the idyllic Sussex village of Alfriston to be the home of the festival. Both grew up in Sussex and David’s parents had lived off the high street. Since 2005 the festival runs for one week, performing exceptional classical chamber music. To make sure it is OF the community, they used the local parish church. Sought the approval of the parish priest and from local businesses and villagers. A Friends group has been set up. A local juice and mixers business ‘Folkingtons’ sells wonderful beverages during the festival.
This ensemble has fantastic musicians, most of whom live in Mid Sussex. They are showing how to be part OF the community. They have been giving regular live-streamed performances to their audiences across mid-Sussex. They run a community orchestra, which anyone is welcome to join!! Recently they have been running online composition workshops for 6th form students. They have moved their work digitally so they can still connect with the community that they are part of. Sarah Bronnert is doing a fabulous job of their social media.
Both these examples show how you can be online and offline, and be part of the community.
5 Ways To Be Of Your Community
- Volunteering your musical skills for charity (fundraisers, care homes, schools etc).
- Concerts (online and offline) where local businesses can showcase their products.
- Collaborate with other creative people and organisations in your area.
- Use locally made products for your audience (locally-made cards, local designers, local printers etc).
- Attend local action meetings (online or offline) to make personal connections with local people. This could also be joining a local community Facebook group.
Your music has an important part to play in helping people to connect after this lockdown. You can start this digitally right now, as Ensemble Reza are demonstrating. By joining your community as a musician you can be part OF your community. Remember people are more likely to trust other people from their community. This shared comradely is a strong basis to build an audience. When you support others, they are more likely to support you back. This can happen both online and offline. It is about making a positive contribution over the long term. NO tokenism. Genuine, honest action.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you and see what you think about this topic.