Most of my friends know that I’m a big fan of rockumentaries (documentaries about rock bands). Many evenings after I finish work, I settle into my favorite chair and either read a book or find a video about a particular band, or a music scene, or an era in time.

A surprising number of bands reference Kraftwerk as a major influence. Being a fan myself, I decided to see what I could learn, and quickly found Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution. One segment (between minutes 13 and 17) caught my attention.

In this scene, The Zodiac club in Berlin is discussed as being one of the places from which the late 60’s German electronic music scene started to thrive. The Zodiac was a place where musicians could get together and experiment with different sounds and technologies. The free atmostphere attracted people from a variety of scenes (free jazz, krautrock, etc) and inspired new hybrids of music and performance styles. The Zodiac became a “hive of activity” and was at the center of “the blooming of German music at its peak”.

The Zodiac is far from being the only example of a place from which an important music scene emerged. And of course, the music world is not the only place where this happens. So it all got me thinking… what are the particular ingredients that cause these great, prolific communities to form? I came up with the following list:

  • a place where people with common interests can get together
  • someone who will get projects started and connect people with similar interests
  • a safe, tolerant atmosphere where experimenting and playfulness are supported and encouraged
  • one or more people who are excellent at their craft. I found that in every movement, there are a couple of people who are masters at what they do – and that this virtuosity inspires, delights and motivates others.

With online communities, we are trying to create places where people can communicate and collaborate together regardless of location. As community managers, we have a great opportunity to create thriving atmospheres conducive to people doing great things together. Applying the same principles as above, we can:

Clearly, these special moments in time cannot be forced or manufactured. However, I think that we can statistically increase the chances by putting in place as many of these things as possible.

And if you have any recommendations for rockumentaries, by all means, let me know!