How to Start a Movement

I recently came across this great video on YouTube which I had seen but not with the analytical commentary which I think really added a lot!  This is a great lesson in how to start a movement.

There are a few really amazing things that this social observation shows us that I would recommend any new musician (or anyone looking to start any sort of movement for that matter!) really pay attention to.  The first point, and something that has been echoed to me by my good friend Seth Herman at Rootfire, is to not be afraid to do something different then what everyone else is doing, particularly when it makes you stand out.  Just because everyone else is doing things one way (like sitting down at a concert in the video) doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better, more engaging way to approach the situation.  Applying this to how we handle our digital strategy as musicians – don’t be afraid to take chances. Covers of traditionally non-reggae songs, staying ahead of the curve in social networking trends (i.e. early mastery of new features, knowing which emerging social networks are worth capitalizing on early on and which aren’t worth your time),”low-pro” behind the scenes band videos, custom light shows at gigs, unique merch items – these are just a few examples of  the limitless opportunities you have to set yourself apart from the crowd.

The next interesting point in the video was the first few followers are just important as the leader.  They show the rest of the out-group that you’re not just some nutcase doing strange things that most others aren’t doing.  In essence, they legitimize you.  Sounds pretty important, right? Well they are! And ALL of your followers/fans are! They are what make your movement successful! (And keep you from looking like a nut!)  Treat your fans as equals, because they are!  Let them know you appreciate their participation and show it to the outside world as it only adds to the appeal of becoming a fan!  Some great examples of this are creating a “Your Shirts” album on your band’s Facebook page where you post pictures of fans wearing your band’s shirt, giving away free music to fans who purchase a ticket to a show, asking fans what covers they want you to do, all the way to incredibly simple but often ignored suggestion to be responsive to your fans! If they write in with a question, answer it! If they compliment your music, thank them! Build relationships with your followers.  Perhaps they have a t-shirt making business, know a promoter, or want to bring 100 people to your next show.  Maybe they don’t but you’ll never know if you don’t build a community to coincide with your movement.  As your movement grows it becomes harder to answer individual fans as the number of questions/requests/comments grow at a similar rate but by remember this principle of treating the fans as equals you can come up with creative solutions on how to keep that relationship alive and convey your appreciation.  Much like the original dancer could first thank each new dancer, eventually there were just too many.  Perhaps he eventually got up on stage and used the PA to thank them all.  See the connection?

The last point I want to make about the video is that there eventually comes a point in the growth of your movement where the “out-group” shifts from being inside your group to being outside.  In English this means that eventually when you have enough highly engaged followers in your movement your influx of new followers starts to increase exponentially as it becomes “weird” to NOT be a fan.  Here’s another way to look at it – your friend sends you a new band on Facebook to check out.  You look at their page and they have 100 fans.  Your other friend sends you a band to check out whose page has 50,000 fans.  Who are you going to check out first?  Our brains like to go with what we know others like even though many of us say we crave to be unique in our tastes.  To take this into the real world – are you more likely to become a fan of a band you saw in an empty bar or a band you discovered rocking out a packed house with the crowd having a great time?  The in-group / out-group tipping point is something that every musician strives to hit along their journey and while it certainly means an increase in the number of new fans and the rate at which they’re added but it is only the beginning of a new phase of your movement, not the end!

Start your own movement today!

Peace, love, and dub reggae.
-the Dub Architect

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  1. Pingback: How to Start a Movement (Part 2) | Dub Architect