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It’s a social world: Cover your friends

03.21.2013
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The business world can learn a lot about promotion from the arts community.

www.CoverYourFriends.com is a video blog website that features singer-songwriters playing songs written by their friends and fellow artists who inspire them.  It’s classic cross-promotion.

The site was conceived and launched by Connor Garvey, a young performing songwriter from Portland, ME.  It started as a way for Garvey to pay respect to his friends, and it is gaining traction as a vehicle to connect and promote an entire community of artists.

It features stripped-down, acoustic versions of songs, usually recorded directly into a notebook computer or iPhone.  What stands out for me in each of the videos is the sincerity of the performance.  It’s not about flash – each video is a heartfelt tribute.

Who inspires the people who inspire you?

As a kid, I’d sit down with an album – an actual LP! – and devour the liner notes as the record spun.  I’d discover new music by learning who produced or played with my favorite artist, or who wrote my favorite songs.  (Did you know that Alan Parsons was an engineer on both Abbey Road and The Dark Side of the Moon?)

In a world where .mp3 files play from a device tucked in my pocket and we purchase music one electronic single at a time, that music geek’s pastime is gone.  Cover Your Friends is a 21st century way to find these connections – to learn who my favorite artists think the world should know about.

In the business world, I find new ideas by reading books, blogs and articles my friends and colleagues have recommended.  If I like their suggestions, I’m likely to place more weight on future recommendations.  My sphere of knowledge expands – as does their sphere of influence.

View your own work from a different angle

In business, the nugget of an idea can grow and evolve with the addition of someone else’s perspective.  In music, the meaning of a lyric is different from listener to listener.

Garvey has learned a lot both from covering and being covered:

“When a friend covers a friend they have the unique perspective of absorbing the song, seeing its place in the world, and the possibility of letting it be seen in a new and exciting way.  On a practical level I’ve learned different ways to phrase things within a song and I’ve learned what parts of the songs or lyrics really grab people.

“Sometimes you resonate with a lyric and when you sing it, it jumps out in a new way because it moved you. That emotional connection motivates you to emphasize it and to make it shine. When it’s your own lyric sometimes you don’t know what is going to grab people. You can guess and try to predict but ultimately you don’t know.”

Share selectively to emphasize significance

If you comment on every blog post you see, link to every article you read, or write about every experience you encounter, people will turn off to everything you say.  It’s like highlighting every word in a textbook… When everything is deemed to be important, nothing sticks out.

When I see an artist I admire appear on Cover Your Friends, I know they are personally invested in the recommendation they’re making.  They’ve taken time to learn the song and interpret in their own style.  They’re putting their own passion behind the work of others in a way that adds to the original.  And they’re introducing us all to something new.

Why “Cover Your Friends” in your business life?

Garvey sums it up this way:

It’s an incredible honor, and a cool thing about honor is that you feel it whichever side of the giving you are on. Either way, you are connected to this very human and very magical moment where a person is affirmed and heralded to the world.

Published at DZone with permission of Christopher Taylor, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)