Manifesto Fundamental: Artists Connect Communities

Community is the next fundamental of the Manifesto. One of the major differentiating factors of the new industry is the ability of artists to interact with others on a global scale. MySpace was a turning point for this - suddenly musicians had the ability to connect with their audience on a daily basis, build a fan base, and make contact with other artists. Free, simple and easy.

Artists have always been at the centre of networks, and their work has often found a key place within subcultures (think disco, goth, trance etc). The difference now is that artists are connectors on an even greater scale. The rise of social media has put artists at the heart of online communities - where their own participation is crucial to the establishment of their audience.

And audiences are developing an expectation that their participation and interaction with the artist will be valued. In the old industry, where fans would make contact hoping for a response from the band they admired, the artist had the ability to remain removed from their audience - connecting primarily through live performances. Contact was essentially one way, with the artist kept at a distance from direct interaction.

Over the past few years we have seen a dramatic shift in media from passive communication to one where anyone can be active and interact. Social media is based on communities of people involved in conversation. Some in the creative industries, such as Stephen Fry, understand this and invest heavily in building strong communities.

The new industry directly connects artists to their community. It's a powerful way of increasing feedback and building loyalty; for new artists, this power is priceless. Simon Curtis is a prime example of this - building up a community via social media alone that has resulted in tens of thousands of downloads of his material from people around the world. Hard to imagine that only a few years ago that level of exposure would have cost a label serious cash investment.

The fundamental of Community works in conjunction with the first of the Manifesto. If music is art, and artists connect communities, the key principle here is that an artist is defined by their ability to deliver their work to the world.

With creative production democratised, anyone can now make music. Technology makes it easier to output creativity - but this act of creation does not make an individual an artist. Only those with the bravery to ship their work to a community that respects what they have created can be termed an artist.

The ease of production and distribution means a high volume of music is being made - a fact that many musicians bemoan. Their fear is that more music on the shelf means their own work will not be heard or recognised. The Manifesto's fundamental of Community addresses this. Artists that make their own connections - with an audience, partners, and other musicians - and nurture them over time, will benefit. The days of the recluse artist reliant on big label marketing spend are over - the Community is critical to supporting an artist's work.

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