As some of you may have guessed already, last weekend we went to the Dutch city Leeuwarden in the northwest corner of Holland.
We went their simply to visit their lovely local festival Welcome To The Village, a festival we also visited last year to study the Dutch concept of mienskip, but this time the festival gave us rather free hands to bring a couple of local Aarhus-based bands or artists to perform at their Grauwe Kat stage – a yurt tent located right next to their festival “beach” – and we therefore brought our hyperactive rockers from Captain Casanova and garage rockers from Federal Unicorn.
In addition to the obvious reason to showcase and promote some talented Danish bands, we went there for an even more important reason; to strengthen our network, but also to exchange and share knowledge with some like-minded people from all over Europe. What we learned was that networking has gained too much focus compared to sharing, and that people from all over Europe can expand the pie when working together.
Network is a key success factor
Think of Denmark, of Europe or the world as a map filled with train stations. These train stations represent the festivals, the creative organizations or the creative minds in their respective countries. The more train stations you know about, the more places you can go.
This way of thinking is, and will always be, the main reason why SoundOfAarhus sometimes can go places we would not even dare to think were even possible only weeks ago. A lot of business’ feel like that, and a lot of business’ use that way of thinking as a key success factor. When you think about it, it is logical, because no venue, label or artist would succeed without knowing at least a handful of like-minded people. We need each other to navigate in unknown places, but what business’ and creative minds sometimes forget is the railroad to the station. They focus too much on the end station and never remember to enjoy the way there.
Without awareness on the tracks, we end up sitting at different train stations. When we figure out the tracks that leads to the stations we don’t want to tell other people about them, “because we found them, so they can be our secret to success in new places”.
Sharing is caring in music
The current challenge is, that even though people constantly strengthen their network to fight their competitors, they don’t share knowledge with network partners. Without knowledge-sharing your network is worth nothing at all, because no one will want to help you out when you experience adversity, and even if they do want to help you out they expect some kind of payment in exchange.
What we learned by talking to the creative minds at Welcome to Village in Holland was, that sharing can really be caring in the music business. It is not only about caring for other people, but also about caring for your own business in the bigger picture. By sharing knowledge both between domestic and international minds we can make the world an even better place.
When people start sharing knowledge, not only with friends but also with international competitors, eventually we can expand the pie. At Welcome To The Village we sat down to figure out some concrete examples of making the sum bigger than the invested parts in knowledge- and talent sharing. This way of thinking doesn’t only benefit festivals, venues and other parts from that side of the table, but it can for sure also benefit artists, creative minds and people in general. Last but not least exchange of minds and thoughts can benefit multiple brands at the same time both domestic and international.
Make the sum bigger than the parts
Imagine being a volunteer at a Danish festival like Roskilde Festival, Smukfest or Northside for a year or two and then get the opportunity to exchange your seat with a volunteer from a festival in e.g. United Kingdom, Germany or Holland. That would not only benefit the volunteers who switch places for a year, but also the festivals who will get the opportunity to learn a lot about the other host-festival.
The same thing would apply to exchange of creative- or organizational talent – e.g. students who could do internships at other organizations abroad, like festivals or venues. Not only will it benefit the host-organization, not to forget the host country, with new perspectives from another country’s creative minds. Eventually the people in internships will return to their home country, and they too will bring new perspectives to the board at home. An obvious way to use this locally would be the internships at SPOT Festival. If these people would have the opportunity to do a couple of weeks as an intern at Eurosonic Noorderslag, the big brother of SPOT, and vice versa both festivals would benefit and gain insight from abroad. Furthermore, the people doing the internships can benefit themselves from during internship abroad and that way become even more valuable assets. In the end their way to a dream job in music would be way easier.
A lot of festivals are currently strengthening their use of innovations created by local entrepreneurs or start-ups. At WTTV they showed us a whole area just filled with small innovations, all completely self-sufficient. The main idea with WTTV’s area is to think of a festival like a village. The main goal is then to work towards a completely self-sufficient festival, just like people want with cities. Just think of the impact it could have for a small Danish start-up, if they would be allowed to showcase their ideas at festivals abroad, in exchange for e.g. some Dutch talents who could showcase at a Danish festival. The idea is still to share knowledge, but while you do it you also benefit your festival’s brand and both of the start-ups’ who are allowed to showcase their ideas. The sum will be bigger than the parts.
In short, exchange of knowledge between festivals, creative organisations and bands will deepen your knowledge. Nothing deepens what you already know as effectively as sharing it with other people, both domestic and international. Furthermore it will grow your network and establish a reputation of an authority which eventually will benefit your brand.
A way of thinking
The core idea is that it is not about the concrete examples themselves; it is about the entire way of thinking about knowledge-, talent- and idea sharing. By joining forces with WTTV we not only showcased two talented Danish bands, but these bands also meet people who invited them to play small sessions. Furthermore we (from SOA) meet a lot of like-minded people, and told people about our little SoundOfAarhus project and that way strengthen our brand awareness in an international perspective. In the end the gain far exceeded the costs for all parts involved in this small exchange of knowledge.
Together, through knowledge sharing between domestic and international minds, we can make the world an even better place. So start sharing today and be a mentor for other people. It will deepen your knowledge and transform the things you thought you already knew all about. Eventually more people will be able to discover new hidden gems through the two most articulate forms of expression – Creativity and Music.