✘ A cozy web of authenticity - a lesson for world builders
And: Ideas are nothing without...; ARC looking for new home; Progressive ownership through tokens; Takeaways from music marketing bootcamp; How to break into the music business
Social media is as popular as it has been. Billions of people post, like, share, remix, and create. The drive for authenticity and sincerity also remains strong. As a person, you need to feel real - and perhaps you can show different faces on different social media. As a brand, you also need to feel real - with a brand identity that matches a platform but remains consistent. As an artist, you need to be both real and ideal - likeable, relatable, creatively strong, with just the right hint of mystique. As a fan, you also need to be real and showcase your fandom as opposed to others. Whatever your role, any moment of fame is dependent on the algorithmic churn. So, in our fully branded social platforms, can we actually show ourselves?
If the answer is no, then where can we do this? Where can we go beyond the trends, hypes, and algo-push-and-pull. One answer is the dark forests I wrote about in relation to community developments recently. This theory of the dark forests of the Internet comes through Yancey Strickler. It takes into account that a lot of these places have the option, the opportunity, the temptation to become dark - with trolls coming out. There is a counter, however, and it’s Venkatash Rao’s notion of the cozy web. Maggie Appleton then created this lovely visual to explain how these two idea relate to each and live together in the same ecosystem.
As Ker Lee Yap recently wrote about this cozy web:
“Coziness might be characterized by some as an escapist retreat from reality, but really it is a way of finding each other.”
While this notion might feel whimsical, it’s actually very strong. It also doesn’t happen without hard work. It requires a system built to support and nurture the following elements:
places to hang around and talk/chat
If done well this then creates, again in the words of Ker Lee Yap: “complex systems that are dynamic, rich, and meaningful.”
Own your data & own your relationships
The question that hangs around this, is how do you create these cozy webs? Can you purposefully set out to nurture one and get people to participate? Even the major platforms know that we, as humans, crave these kinds of authentic connections offered in the cozy web. Instagram has channels, and so does WhatsApp. LinkedIn has groups, and so does Facebook. And then there’s all kinds of other gated platforms - many away from the big tech companies - where an invite isn’t enough, but a purchase needs to be made. The latter group often moves closer to providing the users with access to data and ownership of the relationships - something that Meta et al, of course, don’t provide.
Last month, I was co-lead in the fourth Water & Music Academy, this time a bootcamp on data-driven music marketing hosted in partnership with Music Tomorrow. One of the key learnings was that everybody knows what needs to be done in theory - artists and brands need to build a community where ideally there’s multi-way communication. But where to build this? And how to escape the algorithms and their churn?
“Several of our guest speakers emphasized that the efficacy of a given tool or channel all boils down to how an artist and their team define a “return on investment” (ROI) — is it the engagement of a loyal fan base? Social media reach? Or simply invaluable time reclaimed back for the artist to focus on creativity?”
In other words, it starts with why. Why do you do what you do? What are the values attached to that? What are the goals derived through that? And, then you can decide which tools to focus on. In other words, there’s no set tech stack for this stuff - and that extends to the cozy web. There’s no clear method and approach that will always work. It’s hard work, because each community requires a different set of wheels, a different steering wheel, and a variety of horns.
What made the Academy so fascinating is that we saw a cozy web emerge through the bootcamp. Through the chat in the Zoom and the way the sessions allowed for those to be woven into the discussions, we saw connections arise. Outside of the session hours, there was a WhatsApp group where people found the space to ask questions. And because in each session it became clear there’s no silver bullet for success, there was space to ask the most basic questions - everyone, in every new situation has to ask them. The questions provided abundance.
A note on emergence
The Academy in its first iteration was a great example of emergent culture within the budding DAO that Water & Music was at the time. It took only 100 days from idea to execution. Sustaining that is hard, because optimizing a culture for it seems to run askew to running a coherent organization. However, this is not necessarily true, especially if it doesn’t happen at scale. We had around 85 participants in the bootcamp last month and several of those contributed mostly asynchronously. Others were present in every session. Some took part in discussions in the WhatsApp group. And a few met up at conferences. We don’t know if anything will emerge from those connections, but, fundamentally, it’s about creating the potential for it. Each moment adds up and with every one of them the probability for emergence gets higher. You can’t definitely create it, but you can optimize for it by focusing on participation and abundance and having places for people to hang out and be authentic and sincere towards each other.
💡 Ideas are nothing without… (Rosie Sherry)
“Ideas are nothing without…
getting them seen
the ability to ship
people using them”
✘ I often argue that ideas aren’t really worth anything, but execution is. Rosie takes all that a lot further in this piece. And I absolutely love it.
🗃️ World’s largest physical contemporary music archive – featuring over 90 million tracks – looking for new home (Rachel Roberts)
“ARC preserves copies of each version of every recording, in all known formats, and has electronically catalogued more than 700,000 sound recordings and digitised 400,000. ARC also houses more than three million pieces of attendant support material including photographs, videos, DVDs, books, magazines, press kits, sheet music, ephemera and memorabilia.”
✘ Maybe it’s the historian in me, but I really hope they can make this happen and find the funding for the move. If you, or someone you know, can play a role in this do reach out to ARC.
🪙 Progressive Ownership: A Model for Application Tokens (Li Jin & Jesse Walden)
“Progressive ownership shifts token distributions from an opt-out to an opt-in model, which has the potential to engender stronger loyalty and network effects due to more skin in the game. As committed users level up into ownership, they are more economically aligned with the success of a network and incentivized to encourage others to join, which creates a virtuous growth loop. Users or developers who opt into ownership are more likely to skew long-term, as is the case with startup employees with stock options.”
✘ We need to keep thinking about different ownership models, and one of my favourite things about crypto is that it allows us to do just that. Li and Jesse don’t go very deep here, but the gist is that we’re moving towards different use cases around crypto. This idea of a shifting ownership model could be strong in making those use cases happen.
🏫 Takeaways from our inaugural music marketing data bootcamp (Cherie Hu, Julie Knibbe, Maarten Walraven)
“Without a standardized playbook, hands-on experimentation is the cornerstone of a resilient, future-proof marketing strategy, with the opportunity at every stage of a project to customize the underlying tech and data stack to fit the artist’s unique scale, needs, and ambitions.”
✘ I mentioned this one in the piece above, but another realisation we had was how early stage the implementation of emerging tech is when it comes to day-to-day practices.
🪅 How to break into the entertainment business (Roberta Matuson)
“You have to break yourself into the entertainment business. To break into the industry, you just have to do the work. The music industry doesn’t care about what you know or your fancy degrees. What they care about is what you’ve done, and only that.”
Christine Osazuwa, Chief Strategy Officer at Shoobs and founder of Measure of Music
KABEAUSHÉ is a recent discovery of mine and I’ve been having their music on repeat. It’s raw, it’s wild, it’s seeping with energy, and bounces and rips. I think I’m addicted.