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There’s something truly wonderful about finding a community within a community. You know what I mean. You live in one place your entire life, but never really get to know the communities you’re a part of. You never get to make the connections that can ultimately make or break you, and so you never really get to feel like you totally belong.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I struggled to find friends. As a 26-year-old working from home, meeting new people, especially people interested so deeply in what I was (music) wasn’t exactly easy. But within a few months I befriended SF Intercom owner and Balanced Breakfast co-founder Stefan Aronson, and was soon introduced to 30+ new friends, all sharing some part in the music industry. It was brilliant. An incredibly simple concept that I had never even thought of: get everyone within a city’s industry together on a weekly basis to talk shop, network, and help propel one another’s dreams. I was in love.
So when I moved back to Boston after my seven-month stint on the west coast, I knew I wanted to bring all of the ethos and passion behind Balanced Breakfast with me. I quickly began putting together the skeleton of what would become the first east coast Balanced Breakfast.
But Boston and San Francisco aren’t the only places with thriving music scenes and a lack of like-minded community. In fact, I’d venture to guess most cities suffer from a lack of strong community feel within the music scene. So how can we change that? Here’s what I did. Hopefully it can inspire you to start your own music industry meet up. Maybe even another Balanced Breakfast?
Find interested people
Naturally, this is the hardest part. Finding the people that will eventually make up your music community. Although paid sites like Meetup.com are great for a lot of things, they weren’t a site that I used during planning this. In fact, I spent no money at all in putting this together. To find interested people, I posted on just about every social media site I could think of: Facebook, Reddit, Twitter. I scoured existing music industry groups in my city on Facebook, posted in subreddits dedicated to my city, and tagged well known Twitter sites for Boston to let people know that I was putting together a weekly industry meet up, and to ask for their input on location. I even found another industry meet up along the way, and attended. Not only did I meet new people to invite to BB, but I discovered there really is a desire for this kind of thing. It’s a lot of old fashioned grassroots promotion, but in the end, it let people know we existed.
Location & Time
The second hardest part was actually finding a location and time that worked for everyone. Once I knew Boston would be the easiest area for people to get to, I had to find a location that was fairly central, and could accommodate larger groups, because I dream big. Eventually I decided on 2pm (to avoid busy brunch crowds) and a place called Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street. Bonus: It was also a bookstore, so we could peruse while we waited for a table!
The last piece to this puzzle was just figuring out format and topics. Luckily, I had seen my SF counterparts in action on this one at least a dozen times, and went off their format. But play around with what works best for you and your community. Focus on topics depending on who it tends to attract. Is it primarily musicians? Media? Bookers? Cater your topics to your primary audience, but don’t forget to make sure it’s broad enough that everyone can find interest.
And there you go! It really is that simple, cheap, and easy to put together a meet up of your own. And once you start gaining momentum, the sky is truly the limit. The SF Balanced Breakfast recently put on a one month residency, which featured a ton of bands from the meet up, and not only was it a great way to showcase our own talent, and get to know each other’s passions, but it even attracted outside attention and press furthering the strength of the community.
So what are you waiting for? There’s a whole city of musicians, media, promoters, and more just waiting for their community to be born. Interested in starting your own division of Balanced Breakfast? Get in touch with us here. In Boston? Join our meet up here.
Angela Mastrogiacomo runs the Boston Balanced Breakfast, a group of music industry professionals that meet once a week to talk shop, network, and build a stronger music community. She is also the owner of Muddy Paw Public Relations and Infectious Magazine.