Music Sounds Better Together: Building a Successful Career
April 20, 2016
Researchers at Yale, using chocolate as their study material (I bet a bit of that disappeared from storeroom shelves from time to time), recently concluded that chocolate tastes best when two or more people are eating it together. When the study’s participants (an easy position to fill, I’m guessing) tasted chocolate together, they judged it as tasting better than when they ate it alone. This held true even if the two people eating the chocolate didn’t share a single word with each other. As the study’s authors summarize, “Sharing an experience with another person, [even] without communicating, amplifies one’s experience.”
This “better together” principle has implications for those of us who are musicians, staking our professional claim to a piece of the musical universe. As a musician, you tend to think everything that breeds success is between you and your work or you and your audience. But it’s not that simple. Much of what makes music resonate to a listener depends on whom they were spending time with when they first heard a piece of music, and how the music fits into the tapestry of their lives.
For sure, much of this is beyond a musician’s control. To use a personal example, I know that songwriter/performer Dar Williams couldn’t have devised a perfect master plan to have her great “End of the Summer” CD playing on our disc changer when we were driving to the hospital to have our first baby, thus getting an enormous jump on creating two—perhaps ultimately three!—customers for life. But, to continue using Dar as an example, she has built a loyal and active fanbase not only by writing exceptional songs (always a good place to start) and giving her all at every concert (ditto), but by helping her fans to connect both with her and with each other via online resources that allow fans to share their love for her music and to support charitable causes, and, most recently, via a crowdfunding campaign. (It’s important to understand that a PledgeMusic, Kickstarter, or other crowdfunding campaign is not only a chance for musicians to raise funds, but to raise group excitement and involvement in relation to an upcoming recording. And, to build proprietary feelings that will live on after the recording is released, because those fans of yours continue to be proud to have been involved in the group effort that brought your recording to fruition.)
So the next time you head off from your lonely writer’s garret to the glare of that spotlight onstage, remember that the connection between you and your work isn’t all that’s involved in creating a successful musical career. There is also the connection of the artist with the audience and, as is often overlooked, the connection of the audience to the people they love, or at least share interests with. This is well worth taking into account, to be built up and built upon.
President & Founder
Oasis Disc Manufacturing