Organizing an opportunity for student musicians to practice, showcase their talents or share their interests is not always easy. To make it easier for musicians to find one another and get together, Sam Rosenfeld '12, Lee Saper '12 and Andrew Antar '12 created Musicians@Brown, a social networking website for music lovers on campus.
The three founders said Musicians@Brown's primary goal is to provide a broad and interconnective platform for anyone who is musically inclined and interested in collaborating with other Brown musicians.
"We are addressing a need and a problem in a community like us. We have so many talented musicians from all around, all over the world. Yet nothing was happening around me," Antar said, describing his inspiration for starting Musicians@Brown.
Rosenfeld said the University doesn't always succeed in uniting everyone on the same stage when it comes to music. "I want to have a centralized page where you can find all the musicians at Brown," he said.
The idea for a network of Brown musicians first took shape as a shared Google Doc, which consisted of a simple list of names and other brief facts about members' music. Saper said that, while people signed up quickly, most didn't actually use the website to get together. "Google was very impersonal," he said. From the initial website, the founders were able to ask people what did and didn't work for them in order to obtain ideas for improvement.
Now, the new website allows registered users to post comments on others' pages, start discussions in forums, upload their music and pictures and personalize their profiles with information about their interests and musical backgrounds. "It's only growing," said Rosenfeld.
This website connects to numerous social media websites, including Facebook, to encourage people to use pre-existing social networking structures. "You can take the music you have and organize it at Musicians@Brown," said Rosenfeld.
Musicians@Brown is a resource that "expands outside of the Brown bubble," Rosenfeld said. Students can even use this tool while abroad to collaborate and connect musically with people around the world, he added.
The three founding members consulted with Maximilian Barrows '11, also Manager of Business Operations at The Herald, on web development. The website launched late this past summer and now has over 90 members.
"Every time I come, I see a lot of new faces," said Aaron Zick '11, director of the Coalition of Bands at Brown. An active user of Musicians@Brown, he collaborated with the website's founders at the beginning of the year by promoting it via newsletters and Brown Morning Mail. "It's a great resource," Zick said, adding that he utilized the system himself to find a percussionist to play one of his recent compositions.
Establishing a successful website or network is not without its challenges. "How can we bring people to the website? It's the difficulty we are facing," Saper said. "The more ideas generated, the more contacts you are likely to add."
Saper said user participation is crucial to establishing a reason for people to come back to the website.
"The only way to do that is to get the word out," Antar added.
While Musicians@Brown is still in what Antar termed the "nascent phase," during which there is still much to change and develop, more ambitious plans are nevertheless on the minds of all three co-founders.
"We need to expand into RISD and other Providence schools. We do have plans to make it more regional and network based. If we can show the proof here at our campus, we can expand it to other schools," said Saper.