✖️ Activate and retain your community - lore as a metric
And: What makes digital real estate valuable; Music publishing's $500m black box; Music licensing in games; Spotify hypes potential of podcast revenues; DAO legal entity matrix
We’ve written a lot recently about community and how to build them. Once you have a community, however, it’s important to understand that it’s equally hard work to maintain them as to build them. As a reminder, this is where we’re coming from:
Flipping the funnel: building your fanbase one fan at a time
Thinking small: a meditation on scale vs success for artists
What we try to say throughout these articles and think pieces is that we’re moving away from a focus on large scale target audiences and wide top-of-funnels. Instead, the focus moves to smaller-scale audiences turned into communities by shared passions and goals. But what happens when you have a community? How do you retain the attention of those in the community and how do you activate them? And, finally, how do you optimize for community?
If community starts with a few people who share certain interests or goals then the moment they’ve come together is also the moment it can start to fall apart. For the initiator of the community it’s been hard work to bring people together and create a space where they can hang out. Whatever the shared incentive for the people in the community has been to come together, once they’re in sync they will need someone to supercharge their fellowship. Thinking from the perspective of the artist, they are probably the ones who will need to do that themselves. As with social media, this kind of onus is extra pressure and something to focus on that isn’t music.
Sticking with the community centred around an artist, the best solution to prevent exhaustion is to focus the music. If the shared goals and passions of the community can be such that they aid and create space for the music, there is no onus or pressure. Instead, there’s a shared objective and a willingness from those in the community to compose the right environment for artistic creation. This can take many forms, from a sounding board to tips on music or video production, and much else. The actual act or topic of engagement isn’t that important and will be dependent on the group and the goals set by the community initiator. Instead, it’s more important to think about how to facilitate and what that requires. First up - group size.
The bottom-up approach to community building immediately means that group sizes tend to be small. This brings a large upside to cultivating a sense of community and help to take advantage of the various skills and mentalities available in a community. So what’s the kind of group size I’m talking about here? I’ll draw on the theory of microsolidarity by Richard D. Bartlett.
“The first objective of microsolidarity is to create structures for belonging. We are stitching new kinship networks to shift us out of isolated individualism into a more connected way of being. Why? Because belonging is a superpower: we’re more courageous & creative when we "find our people". The second objective is to support people into meaningful work. This is very broadly defined: you decide what is meaningful to you.”
Bartlett brings up five scales of microsolidarity starting from 1 and moving up to 150+. The last scale is actually a network of smaller groups called congregations. For my purposes, I’ll focus on the crew, which consists of three to five people. Bartlett picks this group size because up to five people we can hold a shared mental context. It could be up to the group to decide what that shared understanding is, but it could also be up to the person who initiated the community to set the first boundaries.
Incentivizing for lore - incentivizing participation
Once the boundaries are set, a crew can do a lot. This small group of people can achieve big impact by pooling their talents and they’ll thus create an identity as a community. Moreover, this identity can become a central pillar of the lore around the community - and thus around the lore supporting an artist’s music and the way fans and listeners engage with it. How do you incentivize this type of behaviour? It starts by setting up for storytelling. This means involving people in why you make music, how you do that, and - perhaps most importantly - what makes it playful. What all of this does is that it allows you to set participation as a vital element in the creation of value.
There’s a lot of structures a community can come together in. Unfortunately, some of the more obvious places we tend to hang out are not optimized for any sort of incentivization. By their nature social media have different goals for what actions people on these platforms should take. Of course, this can be circumvented by creating closed groups, but it’s essential to keep in mind that you’ll need to manage these platforms as much as those inside a community. Whatever you choose, make sure you can have a setting that allows for interactivity between the crew members. Without that the community will not be able to be playful or to build other connective touching points.
Once the scene is set and trust has been established, crews can move quickly and on their own accord. The lore will also help to set up the next crew and thus increase participation. That’s not to say that growing the community has to be a goal, but just that once one crew is operational, so to speak, repeating the trick becomes easier. First of all, because the people in the first crew can help onboard the second crew. Secondly, because the lore is already being built upon there are multiple opportunities to jump in and find something that triggers someone into activity. Thirdly, one or more people participating in the first crew can move over into different activities or practices and thus establish a new crew. All of this movement starts with the lore, with the story, and occurs once you incentivize people to interact with that and build on it.
A final word about metrics. Measuring success in this type of community thinking is difficult. Hard metrics like number of participants might not cut it. As I mentioned, growing a community beyond a small number of people might not even be a goal. I suggest instead to focus on different metrics that are more malleable. A goal, then, can be to learn how this works, or to bring people together around your art. The beauty of learning is that you only know what you’ve learned once you have. It’s also at that moment that you can bring it into practice more consciously. What this also means is that you can try again if it doesn’t work. You can discover - fail - reflect - adapt - and continue to create lore.
🚜 Metaverse Land: What Makes Digital Real Estate Valuable (Scott Duke Kominers)
“All of this means that the value of metaverse land and real estate to users will likely depend on what’s locally proximate, rather than on the full geography of that metaverse. We can expect to see thriving shopping malls, micro-cities, or even entire virtual worlds that are kind of like islands in digital space – packed with activity that leads people to travel locally within them – yet separated by “distances” large enough that people will just teleport across them.”
🕳️ Music Publishing and the missing £500 million (Henry Marsden)
“£500m in its entirety is unlikely to be sat stationary in the industry’s accounts. It is also perhaps in itself an inflated figure, and one that some CMOs naturally find offensive considering their accuracy efforts. Other CMOs are conspicuously quiet on the issue. The figure itself, however large, is still an undeniable signpost to the damage that poor data inflicts on genuine attempts to pay accurately. Damage tangibly felt by creators.”
⚙️ Music licensing in games: trials, tribulations, and what's next (Rhys Elliot)
“The situation was always complicated, but things are only getting more complex as technology and consumer engagement evolve. Aggravating things further, gaming is a particularly fast-moving market, especially compared to music licensing laws that were written decades ago.”
🥱 Spotify hypes the revenue potential of podcasts and audiobooks at its second Investor Day event (Sarah Perez)
“Spotify believes its long-term revenue goals with podcasts will be achieved as it further develops its advertising technology, grows its podcast subscriptions business and invests in new creator monetization tools. It said the podcasting business generated roughly €200 million last year, up 300% from 2020, and 125+ million users listened to a podcast in Q1.”
🍉 DAO Legal Entity Matrix (Paradigm)
“This is a simple, mobile-friendly resource for comparing various legal structures used by DAOs in the US as well as a few international jurisdictions. It is intended to be a starting point for founders and their legal counsel to better inform them about the issues as they consider potential legal structuring solutions for DAOs.”
💎 I wanted to end on a different note this week using a quote from science-fiction author Ursula K. le Guin:
“Technology is the active human interface with the material world. But the word is consistently misused to mean only the enormously complex and specialised technologies of the past few decades, supported by massive exploitation both of natural and human resources.”
Azu Tiwaline is about to release a new EP and the first song, Into the Void, is already available. It’s another stunning piece of music by this producer who brings together various strands of percussive and bass musics - from the Berber transe music to deep bass of dub. This new track is all about the echoes and the kick.