URL -> IRL: Leveraging Digital Tools to Build Strong Offline Music Communities

The future of music empowers musicians to achieve career sovereignty by leveraging technology to build strong, engaged communities.

Brunni Corsato

The conversation around music and technology has become a battlefield. On one hand, musicians struggle after more than a decade of streaming hegemony, with $9.99 subscription turning music into "free" in listeners' minds. On the other hand, there are artists doubling down on sharing their work online and thriving, thanks to a community of supporters built with tools such Twitter Spaces, newsletters, gated Discord servers and releasing music onchain.

After a pandemic spent glued to screens, we're collectively coming out of a digital hangover and a yearning less doom scrolling and touching grass again. But this seems to be a hard trend reverse, with the livelihood of most music creators depending on being chronically online - be it to promote tours, sell merch, announce new drops or land collabs with other music creators or even brands.

Beyond pitching URL against IRL, is the emergence of an approach that seeks to conciliate the online communities and with IRL connections. Understanding that each plays a crucial role, creators, scene organizers and music lovers are gravitating towards solutions that integrate the best of both worlds.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution for the "music creator dilemma."  Every artist needs to find their own way to connect with fans and nurture those relationships. Ask yourself: how can you connect more people to your music, and keep nurturing that bond? What do envision for your music communities, and what can you contribute to them, in return?

The truth is, the toolbox available for music creators has never been fuller. The information overload is real, so we’ve put together a list to help you get started.

URL->IRL: a quick fire guide to the chronically online music creator

A caveat before we dive in: use these online tools to empower your career sovereignty. Prioritize platforms that grant you control over your work and allow you to nurture long-term relationships with your fans.

By career sovereignty, we mean empowering musicians to control their narrative, nurture direct relationships with fans, and explore alternative revenue streams through online tools.

TRPPN: trppn allows music creators to bring their fans together and share exclusive perks with them, unlocking exciting new streams of income to allow them to live off of their music. Download here.

ASLICE: community-driven software that allows DJs to share revenue with producers of the tracks they played in their sets. Not fan-facing, but definitely builds the spirit of community between music creators.

COMMUNITY WEB RADIOS: they are both local and global, a fantastic way to tap into local scenes while on tour. A few examples: Res Radio in Vienna, Refuge Worldwide in Berlin, Kiosk in Brussels, Rádio Quântica in Lisbon, Oroko in Accra, The Lot Radio in New York.

NEWSLETTERS: Newsletters are a fantastic tool to stay connected with your fanbase on a deeper level. Share updates on upcoming tours, new releases, or simply give them a glimpse into your creative universe. Substack is the go-to for long-form writing, with a solid readership and monetization tools. For those looking to have their newsletters onchain, Paragraph is the place to go.
Get inspired with First Floor, Emma Miller and NoTags.

CLOSED GROUPS: these can live on many different platforms such as Discord, Telegram or IG Channel, and are usually a more direct channel of communication between music creator and fans. Work and conversations that don’t belong on main find fertile ground in these more private settings - think work in progress, unedited thoughts or even different aspects of your work.
DJ and curator Opium Hum hosts Hyper Real Radio, a Telegram group where he shares daily music recommendations from his diggings through all genres of electronic dance music.Violetta Zironi holds weekly private performances on her Discord server for collectors of her music.

Get inspired by Scenes, an interactive album launched by London-based DJ Sound of Fractures. Fans contributed their own interpretations of the music to the artwork that accompanies the album, making the experience more meaningful and collaborative.

Mix and match those tools until you find a combination that makes sense for you and those wanting to support you.

There's no right answer yet.

Music creators are building new ways to create sustainable careers as they go.

Don't be afraid to try new things and pivot if they don't work, until you reach that sweet spot of resonance with your community.