Hurricane Sandy is deeply affecting the music world in ways we're only beginning to discover. Not just New York but many cities and regions were affected. Not just the U.S. but nations such as Haiti and Cuba lost many lives. I've been thinking about the place of musicians and music marketing in such a disaster and it's taken me awhile to sort out some thoughts I believe are worth sharing.
To some degree this post is a follow-up to an earlier post "Is Occupy Wall Street Fair Game For Music Marketing?" Just as Occupy Wall Street related to a broad spectrum of the population that included musicians, Hurricane Sandy is also having broad effects that include musicians. But the immediacy of the Hurricane Sandy disaster undermines any attempt at justifying cynical forms of opportunism.
I've been in touch with Kosha Dillz, who's written multiple guest posts for Hypebot on his unique approach to getting booked at music festivals and winning on Warped Tour. We spoke once on the phone and then exchanged emails. He was in the Manasquan Jersey Shore in which much was destroyed and power was only recently restored.
Kosha comes out of the hip hop school of marketing in which one is always "on the grind." Yet he was initially faced with the fact that many of the tactics that work for him in everyday settings end up looking pretty cynical in the face of destruction even when one is speaking tongue in cheek.
A few days ago I asked Kosha in an email if he'd solved his dilemma about how to move forward and here's what he wrote me:
"I spent the majority of my time at charging ports with my phone meeting people. Good place to strike up convo and mention my Hurricane Sandy story. I found myself making food, coffee for other people and cleaning out houses for friends. We even shot a music video on the NJ shore and took pics in front of rubble/debris, posting them on my Facebook."
"It's not just that [I] want to be involved. The whole world does. Let's help them get involved even if they're very far away."
"Everyone becomes involved in the movement and no one is selling anyone anything for personal gain. It's a great buy!"
In his own way, Kosha hit on all the main points that strike me as important when one considers the place of a musician in a disaster.
Get Involved and Help Others
Kosha Dillz, like so many others, helped those around him to dig out and clean up in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. He's now helping raise funds and gather supplies in the course of returning to musical action. For example, as he made plans to attend a conference in Connecticut, he offered to drop off supplies at locations along the way. He's also participating in a related concert in Brooklyn on November 16th.
Share Your Story
Jim Allen gathered and shared musicians' stories for MTV Hive. The process of telling one's story is also part of recovering. Media outlets that pass these stories along support that process. Folks outside the disaster zone appreciate learning about the experience of musicians with whom they feel a connection.
Manny Faces and associates encouraged members of the hip hop community to call in and share their stories for The NY Hip Hop Report:
"We want to use the platform we have created at The NY Hip Hop Report to address the issues that our musical family faces, not just vain or self-serving purposes. We hope to get calls that will reflect this community-minded spirit that we believe in."
Find a Way to Let Concerned Folks Far Away Get Involved
Justin Colletti shared news of "Music Spaces Hit Hard By Sandy" via SonicScoop. Floods damaged spaces filled with musical equipment (multiple studios and New Amsterdam Records) and vinyl (Norton Records - see above video). Brownouts also damaged equipment (WFMU). In addition, at least one major community fundraising event was cancelled that represented a major loss to WFMU.
The article includes links to fundraising events and information on where to send donations.
Get Back in the Game
Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde shared the story of publishing Billboard in the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy. It's a tradition among publishers to do such things but as Werde notes:
"We accomplished a task that only now am I willing to admit to staff was likely impossible when we began."
But they pulled it off despite the difficulties because, in part, as Werde also points out:
"Media provides some normalcy--a sense that not all of the clockwork's gears and springs are on the floor."
So What's the Place of Music Marketing?
Musicians and others in the music industry who understand marketing know how to get the word out about what's happened and what's happening. From famous musicians lending their well-known brands to benefit concerts to less well-known artists digging in, helping out and staging local events, marketing skills come into play with a focus on the needs of an extended community.
While things will gradually return to whatever normal is after such an event, for a brief while many are living what The Cluetrain Manifesto advocates, speaking in a human voice with other humans.
Note: The thumbnail tshirt pic above is by artist Sebastian Errazuriz. 100% of the proceeds are going to Hurricane Sandy relief programs:
"Sebastian Errazuriz’s studio was paralyzed after the hurricane. Unable to work and tired of watching the horrible disaster unfold on the news, Errazuriz decided to design something to help raise much-needed relief funds. This idea occurred to him after seeing the water line marked on the walls of the flooded galleries in New York’s Chelsea art district."
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.