When Electronic Music Production student Sam Hunt discovered a lack of community surrounding his music genre of choice, he didn't let that deter him. Instead, he decided to take action and begin building a scene for himself.
To succeed in the music industry, people often assume they have to pour all their energy into creative work. However, it's often the people that treat every aspect of their career with an innovative approach that manage to achieve real success.
For dBs Plymouth student Sam Hunt, living in Newquay in Cornwall presented a problem. Although future funk, melodic house, and techno are hugely popular on the global dance circuit, in the South West they're often eclipsed by bass-heavy genres like drum and bass. This lack of a local scene was creating a roadblock for Sam in terms of growing as an artist and ultimately finding work. Yet, whilst many people would find this situation demotivating, for Sam it was the perfect opportunity to harness his creativity and make something happen.
His solution was a collaborative project called the 30 Day Challenge. Working with video-makers and other artists, Sam set out to write a unique piece of music every day for 30 days, accompanied by a piece of visual art.
The aim was to publish this work via social media and grow a community organically through his collaborations. Sam planned to meet like-minded people throughout the process whilst challenging himself creatively. He hoped the challenge would help him develop a portfolio with which to pitch for freelance audio production work in the future.
In the beginning
When we interviewed Sam for dBs Insider, he was already deep into his 30 Day Challenge and exuberant to have already achieved some of his goals. At the beginning of the project, however, things were different. It all started with an idea – an educated guess that wasn't guaranteed to work. However, Sam knew it was worth a shot. If he pulled it off, the rewards would far outweigh the effort.
"When I started sketching out ideas for the challenge I knew I had different problems I wanted to solve – the lack of a local scene, no social media presence, and knowing that it's to me up to me to create and manage my own career. Things were not going to just fall out of the sky, so it was down to me to make it happen.
"At the very beginning, I wanted to build a portfolio of work and challenge myself creatively, that much I knew. I was actually in the garden, sat in the sun relaxing when I had one of those 'ah-ha' moments and suddenly all of my ideas began falling into place.
"A friend of mine, who I had previously lived with, is involved with the visual arts and creates 3D rendered short videos that would work perfectly with my style of music. He is of the few people I know who shares a passion for the same genres as me.
"When we were flatmates we ran an event together where I organised the music and he did the visuals. He is also the sort of person who loves to get involved with a project. I told him that I wanted to challenge myself creatively and was planning on writing a new piece of music every day for 30 days and asked if he would make some videos to go with the audio. He agreed.
"After producing the first piece together it was clear we had created something really powerful and I saw the potential for it to resonate with online audiences who appreciated electronic music and visual art. This was the opportunity I needed to create a scene for myself and connect with likeminded people. The next step would be to use the challenge to reach potential supporters and more collaborators. I knew social media (Instagram) would be key to this, but it was quite tough at the start. My solution was to first expand my reach and then personally interact with everyone who liked or commented on any of my work with the hope of making some connections."
Growing the project
Sam expanded his social reach initially by running a boosted-post campaign on one of his early and most successful videos. The results were spectacular, with views, likes, and comments flooding in. People began sharing the project with others in their network and the 30 Day Challenge started to develop a following.
Sam personally messaged each and every person who interacted with his content and as a result, built meaningful connections with his audience. With the social growth picking up pace, collaborators for video work started getting in contact and the network continued to expand.
"It reached a point where I was getting sent videos to write to rather than artists making videos for my music. The creative process went full circle. I then found myself at the centre of a network of artists and enthusiasts who would visit my Instagram account every day to check out the new upload."
The 30 Day Challenge highlights the approach all artists should be adopting when managing in their careers. Creative challenges require creative solutions and Sam's multidimensional approach elegantly provided the answers.
Since starting the project new opportunities have arisen. Sam has been approached by a Yoga lessons YouTube channel to produce original music for their tutorials. He has started picking up work in podcast field writing intros and outros alongside audio-editing duties.
"Now that I have my portfolio of work and a community around me my confidence has really grown. I'm so pleased that my freelance work has started to pick up pace as well."
"I'm excited for the future, looking forward to getting more DJ gigs and already drafting ideas for a new project. When the next one happens, dBs Insider will be the first to know about it."
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