Lean on me: Supporting your listeners, lovers, and/or fans

It’s become astoundingly easy to create music today. Keyboards play chords, so you don’t have to memorize scales. Computers give you digital knobs to make that beat sound “sweeter”. Those same computers will tune your voice so that even if you can’t hit a note to save your life, you’ll still be alright.

So if making music is easy today, why are there some many newcomers looking for support?

Chapter 8 in “Groundswell” speaks to those of us looking for that ever present support system/person. I feel it can make a big difference in a person’s creation process, and it’s one of the reasons I started this blog!

Let’s talk about resources. Let’s talk about how/where we can learn as artists, and support each other in the groundswell.

Let’s build.

Li and Bernhoff provide us with 3 primary support examples:

From the independent musician’s perspective – you’re probably not likely to start any of these as a part of your plan for groundswell thinking. But because of the importance they held for me when I first focused on the digital world of making music, I’m going to focus on Discussion Forums. According to “Groundswell” (Li and Bernhoff, 2009), they tend to thrive due to the participatory culture that permeates new media “in which consumers do far more than consume–they create as well.” (p. 253) Ultimately, when talking about Discussion Forums, you’re talking about giving a venue to your consumers and allowing them to help each other, along side you.

My musical background is in HipHop music. Traditionally, there is a secrecy that lives within the culture – no biting allowed. There is a stigma that if you are doing something that the next man is doing, that’s a negative. From an artist perspective, I understand this. I practice it. From a technical perspective – there’s a reason Parallel Compression is called “New York Compression”. There’s also a reason its so commonly used – it works! Discussion forums are a perfect place to discover techniques and answers to questions that a local resource may not be able to help you with….and you know what? They will help!

Caterina Fake, cofounder of Flickr, calls it “the culture of generosity”. It expresses itself through psychic income, where people participate for the gratitude, for the recognition – for the love. (p. 250)

Should you tap into creating a discussion forum as a part of your website? Your customers are waiting to earn their psychic income! Maybe you’re a record label. Maybe you’re a music school or community organization. There may be something here for you! I hear people saying that they would like for their Facebook page to be a “forum” for discussion, which may be part of your strategy, but I ask – what’s wrong with directing traffic to a website for that?

Remember, we’re not talking about helping people, “brought to you by Producer X’s Beats”. THIS ISN’T SOLELY AN OPPORTUNITY TO SELL. There’s real support to be had, not just from you or your label, but from the community at large. If you have traffic coming to your website, not only do they want your product, but they probably have questions about it as well. Support them, serve them – it will pay off in the long run.



Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review, 2011. Print.

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