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Small Band Struggles with Jay: Communication and Community




Welcome back to the final instalment of this mini-series. Thank you very much to anybody who has taken the time out of their schedules to give these pieces a read, as I’ve mentioned on the previous volumes, it’s hugely appreciated, these took much more time and thought than I first anticipated! But it’s been fun. Thanks again to the wonderful Grace for allowing my input. Let’s jump right into our final topic. 

Communication and Community 

One night many years ago, after a show in Nottingham at The Bodega (I believe), myself and Sam were walking across town about 30-45 minutes after the show to fetch the vehicles to drive round and load up ougear back at the venue. It’s rare we ever don’t drive ourselves to a gig so local, for the sake of costs. Whilst coming up to the Nottingham square, not too far from a Primark outlet we were approached by two, similarly aged females. They quickly made it clear they were at the show, and thankfully enjoyed it. It wasn’t uncommon for people to do this; the crazy part is when they recited my name. It’s a strange feeling of disadvantage almost, when people you’ve never met know even small details about youthat you don’t know about them. Of course, that was theprotective, primal side of my mind, the other half was overjoyed with a slightly childish glee. I was famous! Ha ha. Both selfish things to feel in the heat of the moment, one maybe for good reasons at the time, the other a more narcissistic one. The two young ladies asked for a photo, which was also rare, so we were more than happy to do so, and then they were about to be on their way. I remember asking them for their names, and then who they went to the gig to see, then what other artists they liked. I was genuinely interested to know the answers. Strangely enough it seems the one social situation where neither party felt particularly comfortable talking about themselves in the presence of the other. Most people do enjoy talking about themselves, they share positive experiences, funny stories about themselves, or acquaintances, or may even just be looking for a little comfort after having a bad day at work. But in this situation, they seemed to know enough about me… I’m in a band, they know my name, they know what I do in the band, they might even know what I do out of the band if they follow me on social media. In their case, they shared their names, they told me who they came to the gig to see and who they liked, but they wanted to talk about us. Ha ha, it was a little awkward sometimes, but that was more than likely my fault. I’ve since been much more comfortable with this experience, I let go of being defensive when genuine people know things about my band, myself and even more so, are willing to speak to me about it, I can’t find the words to explain how humbling that is, especially now I’m older and can see clearly how this experience is not about me at all. I see it with other artists too. The love and adoration individuals show towards bands who make music they connect with, or even better, genuine people, who share common beliefs and interests, whether they would have been musicians or not. It’s really something. As peopleas human beingswe should want to hear about what other people who share a common interest of ours and support usand our loved ones in doing what we ultimately want to do, do themselves. In an artist’s case, the human being who takes an interest in your work, or yourself, deserves your time and interest, to some degree*. Obviously the bigger you are, and the more people who take an interest in you, the harder this can be to manage. But these are fantastic people, I’ve met them. They study History or Psychology, they design tattoos, they make websites, they do sport, some save lives or give us life, they write wonderful things on paper, they hold a family together, and they struggle too, because God knows that we all do. In fact, some even blame God when they struggle. Maybe it is God’s fault. Regardless, sharing enthusiasm for peoples works and passions when they take an interest of yours should be something you want to do, if it isn’t, you’re missing out. 
On the flip side, there is also the matter of people’s individual privacy, there are things people on both sides might not feel comfortable sharing. Also, it’s difficult for them to be friends… In this scenario I use the term ‘fan’ vs ‘artist’ only because the fan assumes the position of admiring the artist’s/the manufacturer’s work. The fan will know more about the artist, than the artist will know about the fan. Second to this, if the artist in this scenario is one person, their will be many more fans than this singular person which is the artist. It would be nice for every fan to be friends with the artists they love, I’d kill to kick it with Rob Damiani or Rou Reynolds for a day, but I know that thousands of others would too. As an artist gets bigger, it’s going to be harder for them to have interpersonal relationships and time to give to every individual fan. That’s why the relationships that are formed early on in an artist’s journey are so special, it’s when you can really learn about some fantastic people who support you. But an artist only grows because they get more fans and more recognition, it’s like the water that gives life to the growing flower. What happens when there are too many individual people who support another individual or entity and desire their interaction? Or to put it another way, how does the artist take into consideration the valued opinion and utility of the mind, from hundreds or thousands of individuals? The collective form a community and speak their truth forward this way. We will come back to this idea in a second, but let’s divert quickly to social medias again. The thumbs up, like and share functions hold value in this regard. An individual entity can quickly view the most backed or valued comments and opinions of people, by somebody expressing an idea, and assuming other individuals are not ‘liking’ the comment ironically, this indicates the comment has value, or backing. Even funny comments obviously hold meaning, if a lot of people found it funny, it likely has some form of relevance to the subject matter somewhere. Groups on Facebook are another great example of community. Even none music related groups show this. Groups like ‘Rate my meal deal UK’ will be full of people who share pictures of their meal deals looking for ratings, comments and insults from a community of people who share the common interest of doing these things. Everyone knows the drill and is there for the same reason. You see a comment reading ‘Worst meal deal ever, absolute trash’. You back scroll up, look at the picture again and think ‘That is the worst meal deal I’ve ever seen, what was she thinking?’ … I would express this idea, But John Smith from Glasgow summed it up perfectly with the comment I read before. *Like*. Seems 56 other people agreed with you and John too. Whoever put the meal deal up sees John’s comment right at the top, because it isn’t just John sending the message, It’s you and 56 others too. They’ll think twice before buying such a sorry excuse for a meal deal next time. Or they won’t care, who knows? 
Earlier on we spoke about communities who could speak forward the truth of many others. A good example of this needs only a short look back into history. On December 21st, 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu the President of Romania, gave a speech in what is now appropriately named ‘Revolution Square’. Romania was fiercely socialist state under a totalitarian regime and had been since 1965. When the president gave his speech, it began like any other, the crowd was silent, and he began speaking. The clip can be found on YouTube and you can see the horror on Nicolae’s face when it happens. A defiant community of brave individuals began booing the president. Then everyone started doing it. This wasbroadcast live on every single radio and TV in Romania, although the footage was cut quickly, the audio continued running. This small collective community spoke forth the truth for almost everyone in their country that day. The people had had enough. Before the years end, the totalitarian regime was toppled. This is an extreme example, but my point is collectives and communities with good communication can have their message heard and even induce action or addressal of things. This goes further even than being able to do this with artists, as the above example shows, it can be done to make change on a much broader scope. Although I endorse people to think very carefully if they do choose to use this power politically. It certainly isn’t something you want to get wrong, or it could affect thousands, to use the former example, Romania’s troubles were far from over and they had to contend with a new beast altogether regarding politics
The communities of fans and artists tend to be much less dangerous, severe and consequential than the example above, but the idea remains the same. Communities can be heard, and just because an artist can’t give you individual time when they reach a certain point, doesn’t mean your individual truth can’t be heard and presented through others. We touched on the cities last week, these have communities of their own, as do social medias. I’ve seen people who have never met before forming relationships online through the mutual adoration of a concept, idea or entity, it’s incredible. Sometimes people at shows form relationships from repeated encounters, or mutual friends, all in that place for the same reason. Community, communication and truth are important, arguably a triad of ideals that can only thrive individually with the support and foundation of the others. The latter part of that concept can almost literally be used to describe the journey of an artist’s career and function of the individuals who back them.

*Those who support us and allow us to do that which we love, with who we love deserve appreciation and time. It’s not about proving your devotion to somebody, but this is certainly a show that they have admiration for you. If you choose to engage with these people (which I personally think you should) but they then choose to abuse your time, appreciation or try to use your position to promote their own interests, you have every right to withdraw from the situation / interaction and choose not to engage further with that individual on an ongoing basis should you believe their intentions remain the same. 

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