✖️ What's your minimum viable community?
And: Spotify in Roblox; Where do the ad dollars go?; Diversity and Inclusion in the music industry; Algospeak; Kevin Kelly's 103 bits of advice
There’s a lot of chaos in the world right now. And yet, on a small scale, many artists, independent labels, and music collectives are working on resilient solutions for the art they create or involve themselves with. This seems a contradiction - what effect can these actions have, which almost happen between the lines of what’s going on at the global scale - but is actually part of a broader experimentation of breaking out of a binary. There are, for example, many possibilities for success in the music industry and not just a simple success-or-failure option. A lot of this experimentation happens in the fringes, even if social media bubbles can make it seem like everyone is talking about the same thing. But in the fissures there’s people working to create resilient communities who can help them sustain their art. Which raises the question: what’s the minimum viable community you need to do that?
Minimum viable community
You know those terms that are hot in VC-land every now and then, well community is one of them at the moment. Moreover, it’s the hottest term in the Web3. Whether you’re minting an NFT, starting a PFP project, or launching a DAO, everyone will tell you that you need a strong community to make it work. BoredApes - successful because of their community; FWB - successful because of their community; Songcamp - successful because of their community. But doing this on a smaller, artist-level scale is hard and difficult and takes a lot of energy. And all of these artists already need to expend energy on creating art, on maintaining their social media, sharing with their fans, going on tour, rehearsing, etc. So instead of aspiring to recreating something that became successful through a multitude of worlds aligning - community only being one part of that - I want to tell you to start with building a minimum viable community and then experiment from and with those foundations together with that community.
The term minimum viable community (MVC) is a kind of off-shoot of the minimum viable product (MVP). Over the course of the Web1 and Web2 companies, mainly in tech, starting become more agile, working with smaller squads in bigger departments to achieve more granular successes. What we learned from this progress is that it’s important to start with an MVP that you can launch to market and then build out from as you start getting user feedback. A minimum viable community is similar as it’s about:
“Finding out what brings value. Building relationships and trust. In a manageable and not too overwhelming way to help you find your path with the community you need to build. An MVC is about creating the dots that you will need later to connect the community.”
This quote comes from Rosie Sherry, whose rosie.land is a treasure trove for community builders. What’s important is that she brings home that MVC is a mindset. In other words it’s about learning to think small and about allowing yourself to continuously experiment with a small number of people instead of trying to reach the broad spectrum of a funnel. Taking this mindset and keeping it is what will allow you to keep building on the foundations of a first minimum viable community. In a sense, that’s like pivoting in tech-speak - you iterate on the community’s needs while they align with yours and together you grow. And what’s being grown will again be established in this MVC.
Where to start?
If you’re sold on this idea, then you’ll wonder where to start. This is the hard part, so let’s try to break it down.
First, you need to have something you’re passionate about and willing to bring into a community. If you’re a musicians, that’s your music. Of course, there’s questions around how you want to open that up to a community, what you want to achieve together, etc. etc. Is it just a form of patronage? Or, does the community get to influence which kicks you’ll use? Or, will there be collective creations like a video? The list is endless, but whoever starts to build the MVC needs to set those parameters. And remember, this is a mindset and any parameters can change.
Second, you’ll need to decide how many people to bring in. Do you want seven or three or 40? What are you comfortable with? You’ll need to start connecting dots between people who have come together over something you’re also passionate about. Deciding this number, though, also relates to the next point.
Third, what do you want to achieve? Again, MVC is a mindset that centres around experimentation. If you’re looking to achieve one actionable goal, building a minimum viable community probably isn’t what you should be doing. But if you’re making music, and you’re interested in creating a new kind of value relationship then an MVC is definitely the way to go. But be clear on this what and it will allow you to not overpromise and underdeliver. At the same time, be open - the people in your MVC are there for the experiment. What’s more, an MVC consists of a small group of people ready to build something together.
To wrap up
This is where I see an MVC, as sitting within a community of communities.
Once you have an MVC - and who’s inside it can rotate as communities evolve - it’ll be in the centre of multiple other communities, some larger than others. But without that MVC there would be no community, it’s where the experimentation starts and where the foundations are first put down. From these foundations come powerful attachments, but they are powerful because they remain malleable. That MVC circle can move around with newly formed communities around it. Different goals can come up and those foundations will shift and change. But that’s the mindset, that’s why you need an MVC, to help move through those experiments and changes.
🏝️ Spotify becomes first music streamer to launch on Roblox (Sarah Perez)
“An in-game merch store, meanwhile, will feature a variety of exclusive Spotify merchandise that can be taken into other parts of Roblox, as well as special artist merchandise which will serve as an additional revenue stream for creators. Spotify says artists will be able to keep Spotify’s portion of those merch sales (less Roblox’s cut) and Spotify can help with the merch design, if need be.”
🥸 The Rundown: Platforms, streamers and publishers pitch celebrity- & creator-driven content and measurement tools on NewFronts Day 2 (Sara Guaglione)
It’s always good to follow the advertising money and the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) is the best place to do so. I’ll highlight Snap here:
“Snap wants advertisers to buy more augmented reality ads. On average, over 250 million Snapchat users engage with AR on Snap’s platform every day, according to Snap’s chief business officer Jeremi Gorman. While previously it took up to 16 weeks to build an AR experience, it now takes “a matter of days,” she said.”
As an aside, Snap just brought a selfie drone to market called pixy.
🏳️🌈 Diversity and Inclusion in the Music Industry: A Reflection on Pop Culture (Brendan Magee)
“Within the context of the Music Industry, it is important to reflect on the way that people from a “diverse” background are actually included within the industry. More recently, the #metoo movement and the actions of Sony Music have directly exposed on the behaviours of “straight, white men in a position of power”, especially in their attitudes and behaviours against women. However, there are a range of other areas and issues within the D&I sphere that warrant consideration by the industry as a whole.”
There’s also a 1st instalment and 2nd instalment to this reflection on Diversity and Inclusion in the music industry.
🧟♀️ Internet ‘algospeak’ is changing our language in real time, from ‘nip nops’ to ‘le dollar bean’ (Taylor Lorenz)
“Algospeak refers to code words or turns of phrase users have adopted in an effort to create a brand-safe lexicon that will avoid getting their posts removed or down-ranked by content moderation systems. For instance, in many online videos, it’s common to say “unalive” rather than “dead,” “SA” instead of “sexual assault,” or “spicy eggplant” instead of “vibrator.””
💡 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known (Kevin Kelly)
We all know Kevin Kelly from the 1000 true fans theory - which my above article breaks down into MVCs basically. But he’s put down some great nuggets here that are well worth the read.
“Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic.”
Sometimes there are musicians who just get under your skin. Kathryn Joseph’s voice crawls into your brain through your ears and nestles there to bewitch you.