Internet forums and discussion boards have become a valuable medium for establishing an online presence, building a reputation, networking with peers, and getting feedback on relevant topics and ideas. With that said, there are many forums and discussion boards on the Internet specific to music artists, musicians, and songwriters. These music forums are packed with wisdom that thriving artists can leverage for their professional development advantage. By becoming actively involved in music forum communities, artists can find themselves absorbing an abundance of music industry knowledge that can help in furthering their respective career agendas.
Registration at music forum communities is generally free, however, the more prominent and private communities charge nominal fees for memberships. To find the right forum community for you, we suggest you go to a popular search engine like Google (www.google.com) or Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) and perform a search on “music forums”. Browse the search engine results one by one, and keep in mind that each forum community has its own mission, theme, guidelines, and attitude. After visiting a few music forum communities, you will quickly learn that not all music forums are the same. Taking your time in finding the right community is key because you will want time spent to be an investment and not a waste. To help you find the right music forums for your needs, Artistopia offers the below suggestions. Note that at the end of each suggestion below, an explanation is provided on how it applies to the development and maturing process of an artist in the music industry.
1. Carefully select a forum community you can settle into for the long haul. Take your time researching them by reading existing posts, and making sure conversations, and music styles, meet your learning goals and objectives before making your selection. Relation to professional development: Finding the right music company or business that will develop you thoroughly is key to helping you mature in the business properly. Always know that haste makes waste.
2. Focus on building a well-respected reputation within the forum community. A reputation in any forum community is earned by a member’s cumulative interactions and contributions over time, and not within a few posts. Keep your reputation untarnished because repairing any damage done to it is always twice as hard as building it in the first place. Relation to professional development: Your reputation as an artist in the music industry is your integrity, and tarnishing it could lead to alienation and possible ousting. Wounded lions drag the rest of the pride down.
3. Keep your posts clean, respectful, and productive no matter what direction the conversation or message thread takes. It will be tough to contain yourself at times, but learn to exercise patience and calculated response tactics. Misunderstandings often happen in forums, and when they do, you will need to know when to respond and when not to. Relation to professional development: Being an artist in a multi-billion dollar music industry is a job and not a party. Learn to be professional at all times and costs.
4. Be careful not to offend senior members and administrators. Forums tend to foster loyalty amongst the members, so measure each word in your posts and focus on being productive, not destructive. Egos and arrogance need not apply because no one knows it all. Smooth over the senior members with wit and intelligence, and you will receive a warm welcome. Relation to professional development: Simple, offend the wrong music professional and it could mean your career. Be open to constructive criticism and always yearn to learn from all those around you.
5. Use the forums to “subtly” promote your personal website or Artistopia profile, which will give you more exposure (brand name building) and help drive your overall numbers (song downloads, profile views, etc.). Most forum administrators frown upon direct promotions and blatant advertising, but they will allow you to represent the website you are from. Always consider yourself a visitor and respect the guidelines set forth because administrators will ban without hesitation. Relation to professional development: Identify and exercise all marketing opportunities that will promote your artistic talent without igniting a turf war. Know your boundaries and how far you can push it by thinking with your head, and not with your heart.
6. Make full use of the signature functionality in forum communities to brand yourself, especially by putting a slogan, a quote, a banner, or a link that points to your Artistopia profile or personal website. This is permissible at most music forum communities, and is helpful for others in learning more about you when reading your posts. Relation to professional development: Every professional artist is known for a signature of some sort, even if it’s lyrics, beats, looks, or wardrobe amongst many other aspects of branding. Start thinking of yourself as a brand that sells and start establishing your market or niche. Become known for something distinct and keep building on it.
7. Engage the readers by articulating your ideas intelligently, making sure your posts are flawless of grammar and spelling mistakes, leaving out slang terms and not using excessive caps, and ensuring your writing flows smoothly. Readers are quick to place judgements based on your ability to write and communicate your thoughts effectively. Relation to professional development: The music industry is about building your fan base and keeping them. Gain their confidence by displaying the ability to walk the walk and talk the talk, professionally and effectively. Let them know through actions that your position in the industry was earned and not handed to your overnight.
8. Frequent the forums and post messages on regular basis. Appearing often will demonstrate your loyalty to the community, and your resolve to building your name and reputation. More importantly, you will be consistently marketing yourself time and time again. Members that disappear for long periods of time are perceived for not being focused or serious about their agenda in the community. Relation to professional development: Half of the battle to making it in the music industry is keeping your brand afloat and marketable. Being a star is the farthest thing from a walk in the park or a picnic. Stars have to do many performances, appearances, interviews, and anything else that will put them in front of a camera to keeping their brand alive. Absence will deplete your popularity.
9. Network, collaborate, and create as many contacts as possible. Do not be afraid to step out of the forum community box and work in-person on projects with fellow artists, musicians, and songwriters you meet in these forums. More importantly, always fish out and befriend members that you feel will further your agenda. Do not hesitate to share your ideas with other members, because if you don’t you will be isolating yourself. Relation to professional development: The music business is about who you know and being at the right place at the right time. To increase your chances of unearthing opportunities, collaborate with as many peers and professionals as you can. You never know who will open the door for you.
10. Do not spread yourself too thin by participating in more than 2 forum communities. Stay focused on establishing your presence and building a reputation in a few places only. Diligent research up-front will lead to wise decisions on the forums you elect to settle in with. Relation to professional development: Productivity is key, especially when you aren’t getting paid. Start small and build your way up. Every single decision you make, no matter how small, will impact your overall progress. Learn the politics of the music business and use them to perfection.
Building a presence in any forum community can challenge the most open-minded socialite mankind can offer. However, by exercising the above suggestions, you can be sure you are not marching in blindly. Exercise each of these suggestions in moderation, be patient as it will take time to build up your reputation, and always act professional so others can respect you. Forums will ultimately teach you people skills and politics.
Once you perfect the above forum tactics, then it is time to move on and fish out real life music circles by attending networking happy hours, conventions and conferences, and any other gatherings that congregate music artists and professionals in one place. Most important is for you to keep in mind that being a music artist in this business is a job and not a party. Good luck and tread safe!