You’re Not Talking to the Right People!

A composer wants to get more performances of her music.  So she sends off scores to a number of competitions and new music groups.  Problem is, even though her compositions are strong, so are a lot of other pieces.  Wouldn’t it be better to network with educators, performers, and ensembles who aren’t inundated with contemporary submissions?  She’s not talking to the right people.  

A string quartet wants to develop a better business model. So they meet with other chamber groups to study their structure. Problem is, musicians aren’t typically the best business experts.  Wouldn’t it be better to meet with actual small business owners outside the music world, to learn from their experiences?  They’re not talking to the right people.  

A local orchestra needs to raise capital for an upcoming initiative. So they approach known arts donors in their community.  Problem is, financial resources from these patrons are already stretched thin.  Wouldn’t it be better to cultivate relationships with other wealthy citizens who don’t currently have their fingers in the arts?  They’re not talking to the right people.

A group of college professors hopes to produce performers who are more entrepreneurial.  So they organize an academic conference on this issue.  Problem is, none of the faculty presenters actually make a sizeable living through performance–they’re primiarly educators.  Wouldn’t it be better to invite actual freelancers and entrepreneurs (both in and outside music)? They’re not talking to the right people.

A community of jazz musicians wants to attract bigger audiences.  So they go to a bar to discuss this issue, and wind up complaining about how no one appreciates great music any more.  Problem is, you can’t solve a challenge by kvetching. Wouldn’t it be better to meet with actual people from the demographics they hope to attract, and learn what motivates them to attend an event?  They’re not talking to the right people.

When presented with a challenge, we often approach others who are kind of like us. It somehow feels more comfortable to be in the presence of familiarity.  By networking with clones, we confirm our suspicions and continue further down the same path with increased confidence. But someone with a different set of experiences, skills, and perspectives may be better equipped to assist. Better equipped to view the problem from a distinct angle, imagining  bold, powerful, and  uncommon solutions. And often, these are the very people with the greatest potential to actually help.

You hope to advance your career to the next phase.  Are you talking to the right people?

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