Building community

Dec 11, 2012

Uncovering Rushmore's excellent community building.

I have just finished day two of the excellent Ready to Inspire conference in Leiden, and I intend to write more about all the excellent talks, and what I took out of them a little later.

For now I just want to do a quick post on one thing - Rushmore, and in particularly how they cleverly motivate you into helping them out.

For those who don’t know, Rushmore, is a music website that is being put together by the very smart folks at Fictive Kin. The goals that they set out are clear, in the short-term they want to bring music fans together, talking about bands that they love. In the longer term, they want to get artists and fans closer together, making meaningful connections, and helping put the money back in the artists pockets.

This is something that I’m also a keen advocate of. I ran Rack & Ruin Records for several years, and the only real goal that I had there was to help smaller artists reach a wider audience, and to give a holding place for bands to store their music.

Rack & Ruin has evolved into a viable alternative to the more traditional indie labels, and long may this continue. The label is entirely not for profit, and in fact with hosting charges it has cost myself money to keep this project going, but I firmly believe that it is a worthwhile path to take – purely to see where it does actually lead.
Dean Birkett, Rack & Ruin Records

The people behind Rushmore seem to have the same noble ideas that I had, and so naturally when they were looking for people to help out, then my name was already going in the hat.


Motivation is hard, you see a beta site that you like the look of, you sign-up, you wait six months, you get a “Welcome to X!”, you can’t recall what X is, you check it out for 2 minutes, you move on.

Rushmore didn’t do that. They asked for 300 volunteers, who they call The 300, and they sent a personalised invitation out in under a month (and they even signed it with kisses).

We love music. We want to help shape a future where bands and fans are closer together, and we sure could use your help. If you love music as much as we do, we think you’re gonna love what we’ve started.

Naturally, I’m a music fan, these people seem nice (and they signed with kisses). Of course I want to help these people out. So I logged into the site, adopted five bands and started, basically, data entry. Now, as someone who comes from a support background, and as someone who set up a helpdesk in a previous workplace, I know a lot about data entry. I had to type in those tags you would find on every printer, on every PC, on every phone, into some helpdesk software. Let me assure you that data entry is not fun.

But Rushmore had charts, you could see where you were compared to the rest of The 300. One week later I was second in the chart at Rushmore. My competitive nature, added with my passion for music, and the fact that I was so close to beating Simon Collison would mean that the following week I would be working that little bit harder.

Then I received another email, included was something that they called a personalised sticker, so naturally I followed the link only to find this nice welcome video.

Now this is smart. Smart people can build sites, but they can’t build communities alone. They need to reach out and get people to take part, and to get people to write posts (like this one), which champion their ideas (as well as do their data entry).

I saw my Dean covered in cats image as Simon briefly presented Rushmore at the conference today, sat in second place, as he quickly panned down the page. Who would have thought that data entry could feel so rewarding?