Have We Lost the Meaning of Community Within the Music Industry?

(this article originally appeared on Sonicbids)

Photo: A Balanced Breakfast meeting in San Francisco. (Photo by Theodore Maider)

There’s something alarming about the way that we sometimes treat one another in the music industry. The way we can use each other as means to an end, only interested in how something benefits us in that moment. Never investing in the long term, and rarely seeing one another as friends, but rather, as enemies, competition, or a stepping stone to something greater. We've forgotten to treat one another as people, and we've forgotten the importance of community. That we need each other to reach our goals, and that in the end, we’re all just trying to live out our passion.

When I left San Francisco in 2014, I took with me a great sense of community. I’d been part of a group called Balanced Breakfast, which I later helped curate in several cities across the East Coast and Southern states. Balanced Breakfast is a group of friends in the music industry first, and a networking group second. It's a space to share ideas, offer advice, and try to help one another out – not because we’re hoping to gain something from it, but because we realize how important it is to building our community, and because we care about one another. Those who come in looking for a quick favor or to simply hand out business cards and split are quickly filtered out. It's this sense of community that I long for within every music community and within the inner walls of the industry itself.

We have to remember to treat one another as human beings. It shouldn’t be such a rarity in this business to meet true and kind people who are willing to go out of their way to help someone – and to not expect anything in return. We all need one another to succeed, yet we insist on building this industry off favors and IOUs. We’ve lost the entire meaning of community within the music industry and the result is a cutthroat, highly competitive, inclusive industry that has its nose in the air at anyone who isn’t bowing down to its needs.

But I have a lot of hope for our industry. Hope that we can come together instead of tear one another apart. That we can see the value in one another as people, and that we can rebuild this industry to be something that we’re all really proud of. Because I promise you, we’re stronger together than we are alone.

So instead of turning your head the next time someone asks for help, embrace it. Offer to be that mentor. Consider where you might be had no one ever taken a chance on you, or taken the time to answer the questions that you now regard as beginner. I know it can be draining when your schedule is stacked sky-high, but taking the time to offer advice or take someone under your wing can truly make all the difference in their lives, and in this industry. Because when we take the time to see one another as human beings, when we make time to help others achieve their dreams, we’re building a stronger community. That’s something we can all benefit from, and something we can be truly proud of.

Angela Mastrogiacomo