Guest Post by Rorie Kelly: Why 2015 is the Year of Community Not Competition

My 2015 started off with a bang when I accidentally got an article published on, which proceeded to get 12,000 shares. “Uh, how do you ‘accidentally’ get an article published on a website?” you may ask. Fair question.

I hit a milestone in 2014–I doubled my income from music. Like many indie artists, building up real income with my music has been a long and hazardous journey.  But after years of hard work and trial and error, I’m finally starting to get good at it, and I wanted to share what I’d learned with other indie artists.

I tossed out an email to Women in Music WIM, a networking group I had joined earlier in the year, asking if anyone was interested in running a guest blog.  Within hours, my inbox filled up with congratulations, suggestions, and offers of help–mostly from women I had never met. This is the power of community at work.

After sending just that one email out, I found myself with the luxury of choosing which online publication would run my story, out of several really exciting offers. Turns out Women in Music is one powerful community to be a part of! I wrote the article over the weekend, and it posted on on Monday. Throughout the week, a massive comment thread slowly grew on Guitar World’s Facebook page. Over 50 percent of the responses were the same cynical joke: “LOL, I’d love to double my income, but two times nothing is still nothing!”  It was funny enough (the first ten times) but suddenly all I could see was how hopeless many musicians felt.

Then a thought hit me like a ton of bricks: that used to be me. I used to feel exactly that cynical about music and money. I had a hard time seeing fellow artists have any kind of success, especially if their act was similar to mine. I’d feel hopeless and envious, wondering what they were doing that I wasn’t. I became terrified that I would waste my whole life working hard and achieving nothing.

Reading those comments made me realize I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel optimistic about my future. When I see other artists have success, I get giddy and excited for them. What changed? I’ve been mulling this over all month. I think the answer is community.

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to use my tax refund to join two networking groups I’d been hearing about for years: Women in Music and GoGirls Elite. I had a really big DIY/lone wolf thing going on at that time, and even as I was paypalling the membership fees I was expecting it to come to nothing. But few people I respected had told me “JOIN!” and in a rare act of compliance, I decided to heed their advice.

I could put a series of humble brags here about the opportunities that came out joining those groups – showcases at music conferences, album reviews, interviews on podcasts. But the really invaluable thing that happened was I found community. Friendships. Peers. I don’t feel like I’m in this alone anymore.  It has changed my whole outlook.

Through GoGirls Music’s weekly Twitter chat (hashtag #ggchat on Thursdays at 3 and 9pm EST) I began meeting other musicians facing the exact same struggles I was facing. Balancing music career work with a day job. Gauging what opportunities to spend money on. Finding a way to take adequate care of ourselves while working all day and gigging all night. Comparing notes made us all stronger. Forming friendships with other artists made me feel thrilled when any of us experienced a new success. Jealousy was out the window. If one of us was finding success, it meant all of us could find it.

Meanwhile, in the Women in Music email group, I saw women at every level of the industry (from CEOs to complete newbies) helping each other out just for the sake of doing it. I saw people asking for and receiving advice, contacts, feedback. When something came up that I could help with, I was eager to share my knowledge, even with a complete stranger. It filled me with joy to help someone else out with something I had struggled to learn the hard way. Instead of the competition and cattyness I had come to expect from the NYC music scene, the prevailing attitude was “We’re all in this together.”

My big question is: why did it take me 10 years of hard work to find community? What is it about the music industry that fills us with such self-doubt, we feel upset when other artists succeed instead of optimistic? What is so broken about the indie music scene that we literally laugh off the idea of making money? Of all of us finding success instead of a chosen few?

Maybe these are topics for another essay (or an entire book). At the end of the day the only thing I’m sure of is this: Community is my antidote for cynicism. Social media and networking groups have changed my life in the last year, mainly because I let them. Putting myself out there like the new kid at school, with no expectations and no real plan, has given me the faith in myself that I struggled to find for years.

Community not competition is my motto for the year. I hope you’ll join me.

About Rorie Kelly:

Photo Credit: Ian Darson

Photo Credit: Ian Darson

People hearing rorie kelly for the first time often comment, “I can’t believe that voice  came out of that body.”  The singer/songwriter has been compared to Alanis Morissette  and Janis Joplin for her catchy, melodic songwriting style and raw vocal power. Music,  videos, and tour dates are available at


Your Three Communities, Part 2: Connecting More Deeply To Your Engaged Fans

Part 2: Your Three Communities – Community 2 – Engaged Fansbigstock-People-try-to-connect-37039297

Last week I started my 3-part series called Your Three Communities and we started diving into how to connect with your superfans by making your live show as good as it can be. This week I will focus on how to energize and connect with Community 2 – Engaged Fans. These fans are your Active Online Audience. They are newsletter subscribers, blog readers, video watchers, RSS subscribers, active Social Media engagers who frequently comment & engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites you may be using. They’re engaged with you in what the New York Times brilliantly referred to as “ambient awareness.”  They know who you are but they may not know you very well (yet).  With this community, as with all three, engagement is critical, but here it will be different. In Community 2 contribution is critical but engagement is even more vital.

Brian Solis, the author of “Engage” and the co-author of “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” has recently written a brilliant blog post on the reasons why creating content is a necessity in today’s social media landscape and it speaks DIRECTLY to your already engaged fans.

The Future of Marketing Starts with Publishing

This article is written for businesses and I have said this many times before: Your music is your business so it wont take much reading between the lines to decipher a plan for yourself in this domain.

Here are the two most amazing morsels:



Your Three Communities, Part 1: Your Super Fans

bigstock-Microphone-in-live-concert-34351733I’m just back from an amazing trip to Los Angeles where I attended and spoke at the ASCAP Expo. I also hosted a networking mixer at the house for 50 musicians from my community in Brooklyn and so I have been thinking a lot about community lately, and I have some thoughts:

Every artist has three separate communities.

Community #1: Your Super Fans

These are fans who are primarily Your Live Audience. You know them by name. If you play out live, they attend your shows regularly, and buy many things you offer (not just music). If you have a street team they are on it and they evangelize strongly on your behalf.

Community #2: Engaged Fans

These fans are your Active Online Audience. They are newsletter subscribers, blog readers, video watchers, RSS subscribers, active Social Media engagers who frequently comment & engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Community #3: Ambient Fans

These fans are your Passive Online Audience and they are your social media friends who are aware of you via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace,, etc. but don’t actively communicate with you and may not have ever even heard your music (yet).

There are many different communities to tack on to this list but these are the primary three.

The problem is most artists have only one strategy for marketing and promoting to three totally separate groups.

The way you maintain your relationship with each of these communities requires a different strategy because you have varying degrees of engagement with each of them.

The way you create and develop your relationship with them should also take some careful consideration.

Yes, there will be overlap between them but not as much as you may think.

This article is broken up into three parts, one for each community. (more…)


A Lesson In Building Community (A Love Letter To Rob Gordon & What Are Records?)

whatareI recently took a vacation to Colorado to enjoy one of my favorite places on earth. I lived there for seven years and it is where I founded Ariel Publicity.
I spent some quality time with Rob Gordon – my first boss at the only record label I ever worked at: What Are Records? What I learned at What Are Records? has set me up for a successful career in the new music business and that is because of Rob’s genius around building community.

Rob Gordon had an uncanny knack for understanding it before many in the record business caught on and I continue to operate Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR campaigns based on his teachings. What I learned from What Are Records? is understand the value of community and connectivity and harness it to grow.

What Rob knew was: Observing and staying in constant contact with a rabid fan base, and nurturing them was the ultimate way to earn money in the music business.

Here’s what Rob Gordon did:

Harness Energy and Enthusiasm way before the Internet was used daily in the business Rob found a bound called The Samples and saw a phenomenon that was in the process of happening.  Every show they played was packed with college students, screaming along to every song from coast to coast, the word was spreading and the crowds were growing each show. The incredible part was The Samples had been dropped from their major label deal. Rob signed them and started recording their new album and at the same time negotiated their major label album back so he could re-release it on his label. (more…)