MIDEM speaker: recruit users manually

Midem, Cannes

UPDATE: This is very old news, and some of the links have since disappeared. But I thought it is still a useful tip, so I kept it on the site.

It’s only October, but people are starting to gear up for MIDEM 2014 already. Browsing the MIDEM blog, I noticed an interesting interview of Paul Graham of start-up incubator Y-Combinator by Yannick Servant. In it, the tech entrepreneur that has seen the growth of Dropbox and AirBnB has some pretty smart advice for musicians and composers – or indeed anyone in the so-called “content” industries.

Recruiting users (otherwise known as “fans”)

One of the key pieces of advice that Graham gives to start-ups is to do things manually, particularly what he calls “things that don’t scale”. I quote: “To be sure we’re all on the same wavelength, let’s define “things that don’t scale” as all the initiatives you have the capacity of taking because you’ve started out as small and anonymous, but that you couldn’t possibly replicate if you were to get much bigger. And it’s because you’re small and anonymous that these things make the difference.”

Number one on Paul’s list: “Recruit users manually. […] you can’t wait for users to come to you. You have to go out and get them. What he is referring to is, for example, “sending handwritten notes, not tweets. Always being poised to unholster your phone loaded with your freshly mixed EP on the spot, instead of promising to mail the link later. Offering to get on Skype with your first fans to hear what they have to say about your show (or even better, in person), rather than posting the question to your Facebook page.”

All very time consuming, but if you’re aiming to be remembered, those are the right things to do. There’s no mistaking either, as Paul puts it:  “The right things seem both laborious and inconsequential”.


MIDEM 2014 will be held February 1-4, 2014. Follow Midem news here.

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