This column is targeted specifically toward collegiate a cappella groups, though some of the principles and ideas we discuss may transcend that sphere and be useful to high school and non-scholastic groups as well.
In this edition of Campus Connections, our focus is on: other a cappella groups.
Given the proliferation of a cappella groups over the last decade, it’s becoming less and less common to need to ask if a college has an a cappella group, and more common to speculate on just how many a cappella groups are active on campus.
The existence of multiple a cappella groups at the same institution can be a great thing, particularly when groups resist the urge to look at one another from a competitive perspective, and instead focus on the ways they might help one another. In short every a cappella group is unique—when you stop thinking about how you can compete with another group, and instead focus on how you might complement one another, you open myriad possibilities for collaboration.
One of the easiest and most frequently used approaches to collaboration is to perform together. This may mean each performing half of a co-promoted show, or one group “opening” for another that takes more distinctive ownership of that show (hopefully the groups will return the favor for each other over time). Collaboration might also include recording a track together or even a video to increase awareness of both groups and to yield a genuinely different sound for the two acts coming together.
Performing alongside another group on campus can both make the show better and draw a larger audience to the show. Regardless of how good a group is, it’s rarely the wrong move to diversify a performance, offering more material to appeal to different audience members, and adding an additional act to the bill of your show can be a simple, straightforward way of doing that. Moreover, each a cappella group comes with its own supporters, whether its friends and family who want to support individual members of the group, or legit fans who got a sampling of what the group could do at another campus event and are now craving more. Thus, inviting a sibling group to perform with you makes your show more interesting and will enhance the number of people your show appeals to.
Even when groups aren’t formally collaborating, though, it’s worthwhile to think about how you might help one another with publicity. Establishing a culture in which groups promote each other’s live shows, album releases, videos, and accomplishments tends to result in a win-win situation in which both sides can get their news to more people and, equally importantly, to an audience that actively cares about what you’re doing (Facebook fans of an a cappella group are more likely to care about another a cappella group’s work than miscellaneous friends of group members who may or may not appreciate the a cappella form).
A cappella groups looking to make the most out of their resources and develop their reputations on campus and beyond should never overlook one of the obvious connections at their disposal--working together with other a cappella groups.