Where Is Everybody? Finding the Bluegrass Community Online
I was caught in a discussion over at the IBMA ListServ and I thought I would share my post. Perhaps it will serve as a call to action to motivate us to connect with all the awesome folks who love bluegrass online (you know who you are).
The question generally posed was “where are all the young folks on this list?”
As a 24 year old who’s been on this list for about 3 years, I can say that there are a few that do enjoy this sort of discussion. It’s refreshing to get all of your points of view, even if there are many occasions where we don’t agree (usually with respect to rights, distribution, technology and community building online).
I don’t know how many big time young artists are on here (haven’t seen too many I’m familiar with, anyway), but there are certainly players here (I’ve been picking for almost a decade).
I think a lot of the action is happening online. I’ve connected with a vibrant bluegrass community of fans and players in NYC and across the country on Twitter (mostly). Those relationships are usually taken offline where we meet for shows and continue to update one another via email and guest post on each others’ blogs. It’s similar to the way I used to make friends in my local jams and festivals.
One thing that stands out to me, and I’ve discussed this in depth with Ted Lehmann (someone who I sincerely respect because of his ability to listen), is that many of my friends in the bluegrass community don’t know this listserv exists or find it an inefficient way to communicate. I’ve been an IBMA member for years and love the organization (as well as the several local associations I’ve been a part of), however, while venerable, some tend to think it lacks the forward thinking attitude to really propel and evolve the genre (and audience).
Now I would disagree with that characterization, but since you guys asked, I figured I would tell you what I am seeing. The pipe dream I’m after (I had a discussion this afternoon with Dustin Ogdin of EarTyme Music) is to find ways to get as many people my age to care about this music and help it evolve for future generations. Some support from the credible folks on this listserv, would help to point us in the right direction.
A simple suggestion. If you don’t think younger folks are reading the listserv, go to where the audience is. Get a simple message board that posts to social networks.. Start an IBMA blog (a dynamic one, not the PDF newsletter). Tell us where to find the good stuff, turn us on, engage us, on our turf. It could be that folks just don’t want to receive 100 emails a day that aren’t relevant and on-demand. Heck, this is an open invitation to anyone who thinks they have a great idea and want to put it on my blog. I’m all ears.
Keep up the discussion, I love what you guys are doing here. Thanks for allowing my input.
So after thinking about this for all of 5 minutes, I came up with a special surprise for you..
Stay tuned, something awesome is brewing (for those that know and/or are helping, please don’t spoil it in the comments).