WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
K E N D E L R A T L E Y S H O R E
VP OF COMMUNITIES
NEW YORK CITY
Photograph by Andrew Urban
I. I believe that we are facing two key issues in our business in 2015: The relentless pursuit of monetization and fear of trying new things.
II. In music today, we are so focused on the goal of a sustainable business that we sometimes lose sight of the things we need to do to get there: building lasting and direct connection to an engaged audience; understanding where fans are and what experiences they are seeking; building products around the intersection of music fans' interests and artists’ needs.
III. Despite the common understanding that making it in music in this era is nearly impossible, the discussion about “how to make money” is ubiquitous at every level of the music industry. You’ll be hard pressed to find a music conference programming schedule that doesn’t include a panel about or referencing “monetization.” That’s a high bar to reach for artists who are just starting out, and sets the tone for what musicians should expect from a career. Music is about so much more than money: it’s a community, it’s a shared experience, it’s a passionate audience of people who feel connected to your work. Along similar lines, success in music today seems to have a narrow definition: land a record deal, sell as many albums as you can, sell out tours, sign a publishing deal. Do all this, and you get to do it again, and again. I would love to see more stories about alternative routes to success.
IV. I think there is a lot of enthusiasm and interest in mentoring new talent, but it takes a lot of time. We are all so stretched thin, finding opportunities and individuals we want to mentor is a challenge. To create a culture of professional growth, all sides must participate. For mentorship to flourish, companies must build opportunities into the organization’s workflow: mandate mentorship and set expectations for the leadership. Systematize it across the organization and provide time out of office. Acknowledge and reward those who make it a priority. Mentors, too, must provide access and invite the community to reach out to them. Ask your friends for mentors (like you do when you need an intern). Cultivate a profile for sharing experience and wisdom: write about about your experience, case studies, etc. AMAs on twitter, accept LinkedIn requests, and offer to do coaching sessions at conferences. The tools are out there! Mentees – whether their relationship is ongoing or limited to a single interaction, should be appreciative of their mentor’s time and come prepared: do your research, don’t just ask, “how did you get here?” but find a specific experience or moment in their career to start the conversation. Set the agenda, be ready with specific questions. And finally, pass it on. Share what you’ve learned with your peers. By being transparent and helping each other, we can level up the work in the industry, together.
V. We need to talk more about how failure, false starts and delays are part of making things. The more people know they are part of the creative process, the less scary making something will seem and the more it will encourage experimentation.
VI. I am for transparency in the music business. Transparency is punk rock.