Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Are You Using the Right Platform?

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From Jeremy: This is a guest post by Jim Woods. He is a writer, musician and dreamer in Nashville, TN. His passion lies in helping others fulfill their dreams. You can read more of his posts at his personal blog here or find him on Twitter @unknownjim. If you would like to guest post on my blog review the guidelines here.

A platform is needed in order to share your work with others.

A platform can take many different forms: concert stage, website, ad in the yellow pages, or publishing contract.

If you don’t have a platform, it becomes very difficult for others to see your art. You need it to accentuate your message with your audience, who will in turn share it with others.

photo by Bryan Pearson (Creative Commons)

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to choose the wrong platform. As you pursue your passion, it is very natural to get excited with any success you have. But if you are not very intentional about what platform you build, you might accidentally let others build it for you.

Recently, the Washington Post arranged for one of the nation’s top violinists, Joshua Bell, to play a concert in the Subway in Washington DC. You can watch the video below or read the full article here.

(If you are unable to watch the video, click here to view it in your web browser.)

Because of this platform, the violinist is defined by the audience as a street musician, while he is one of the finest violin players in the world. The majority of the audience did not take the time to stop and listen to the performer. They simply passed on to go to their destination.

And the same could happen to you.

Timing, location, and familiarity are 3 key elements that need to be considered when building your platform.

1. Timing

Why it fails: This concert was performed at rush hour by the subway right as the audience was on its way to work.

How it could succeed: Announce the concert in advance or have the concert when the audience has time to enjoy the show, such as lunchtime.

2. Location

Why it fails: The physical location was right by the entrance and exit of the subway. Very little space was available for anyone to watch the performer.

How it could succeed: Move the concert to a waiting area for the commuters where there is more space for the audience to gather around as well.

3. Familiarity

Why it fails: The piece being played was not familiar to the audience. To get one’s attention, you must stand out. One way to stand out is to be familiar.

How it could succeed: Had the 1812 overture or even a Led Zeppelin song been played, it probably would have resonated more with the audience. If there were any children in the audience, a nursery rhyme or television show would have worked well. Most parents are more likely to give to a musician who brought some joy into the life of their child.

Be intentional when building your platform so it helps rather than hinders. Do NOT let others tell you what you can or cannot do. While it is very wise to seek counsel, you must take personal responsibility.

Make sure that the platform accurately shares YOUR unique message.

How are you building your platform? Share your strategies in the comments.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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20 Replies

  1. Great advice, Jim.  I’ve seen that video before.  It’s powerful.  You’ve gleaned some great lessons from it!

  2. the concept is very interesting. I am certain I would have just walked by as well.

  3. I read part of the article, and I love how this world-renowned musician is nervous in the context of street performer. He realized he had to prove himself to these people.

    How am I building my platform? Slowly and one bit at a time. I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I’m just taking it slow.

  4. Thanks so much Eileen! I really appreciate it.  You hear the word platform A LOT these days, but I really question if we are using the right one. 

  5. Jamie, you are definitely on track! Take a look at your Finish Year goals if you don’t believe me 🙂

  6. Even the best still deal with anxiety and Resistance. Isn’t that an encouraging thought?

  7. Lorna Faith

    A great insight into this street performance. I love the platform building lessons you gleaned and shared…thanks:)  

    I’m just starting out building my platform…learning from others and also trying to build so it shares “my unique message.”  So important what you said Jim about building so ‘it helps rather than hinders.’ I needed that reminder. Thanks for the words of wisdom 🙂

  8. Great write Jim. It’s easy for the creative type to neglect the importance of intentionally building a platform, and then wondering why no one is listening/looking.

    I watched that video a couple weeks ago and was amazed… amazed that I wouldn’t have recognized the art and would have walked right by too.

  9. Thanks Cole. I really appreciate it. I think it’s absolutely amazing how important WHAT platform we build or use versus just having a platform.  It is so important to connect with the right audience at the right time in the right way. 

    I totally would have walked right by the violinist as well, without even thinking about it. 

  10. Thanks so much Lorna. I really appreciate your kind words.  I keep telling myself in regards to platform-building,  “Don’t rush it, be intentional.  
    Don’t rush it, be intentional.”

    Life is about intentional relationships, not generic numbers.  

    So glad I can offer encouragement to you as you are on your journey Lorna.

  11. I definitely agree with, Jim. Relationship is the key.

  12. Very interesting takeaways using the video story! Good job!

    In addition to timing, location and familiarity, I would add what’s known as “social proof” in marketing circles.  Social proof describes how we tend to pick what others are picking because it feels safer.

    If the timing, location and song were kept the same, but a sign was placed by Joshua that said, “Surprise performance by world-reknowned violinist, Joshua Bell,” I wonder how/if it would have changed behavior?

    Also, George Evans, who handled publicity for Frank Sinatra in his early years, paid girls $5 to scream and carry-on while Sinatra sang.  This caused other girls to start screaming and a dynamic known as “cumulative advantage” set in. So I wonder if 5-10 people were to be positioned to stand and listen to Joshua’s performance, if it would influence the crowd’s behavior?

    I throw this out as food for thought, because these are techniques (right or wrong, good or bad) that are used by bloggers, writers, businesses, etc. both online and off to attract attention.  That attention attracts more attention, which allows the artist or business to identify and cultivate relationships with the right audience/customer base.

  13. Thanks so much Keith. That is very interesting! I wonder how the experiment would have went if there was a sign like you said. I love the little Sinatra story. That totally makes sense. Thanks for sharing!! 

  14. Yvette Carol

    Yeah I think I would have been the same. I tend to ignore buskers a lot of times, there are so many here, especially at the markets. Keith’s comment made me think… I wonder if people like comedians hire people to sit in the audience and laugh when they’re starting out? At any rate, your guest post made me sit and ponder things Jim. Will continue to give it thought….
    Yvette Carol

  15. Thanks for giving me something to think about. Time to make a plan on how to position my site on the right platform to be noticed by the audience I’m trying to reach.

  16. I like to ask myself, am I using the right arena for my best results, and am I using the arena to give my best where I have my best to give.

  17. I agree J.D., both are important. 

  18. Thanks for the comment. And by the way, the check is in the mail.

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