Bidemi Palmer is an Innovation Consultant, Community Curator and first-generation American, born in Nigeria, raised in South New Jersey, inspired in Brooklyn and becoming in Jersey City. She trusts in her guiding words of culture, community, art and music to help live her story and is dedicated to creating new futures with black art. In 2020, she founded Tapped Brooklyn, a platform that supports Black musicians from Brooklyn and beyond to help them become a part of their local and global art scenes. If she’s not consuming new music, writing, or working, you can find her talking to strangers (people she hasn't met yet), relishing in local green areas, curating communities and tending her motley set of plants.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
I was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. when I was 8 months old; Long Island and South Jersey were the places that raised me. I was quiet as a child, but that allowed me to recognize my interests early-on and be intentional about the voice that I was building. Being an observer of other’s stories was the key ingredient for my love of what I can now define as storytelling. Knowing that I had more to experience outside of South Jersey, I studied business in Boston at Boston University and dual concentrated in law and management information systems. I leveraged my degree to work as a Technology and Innovation Consultant for a large firm in New York City, where I am still located.
Not long ago, I revisited my childhood love of the arts, such as writing, filming, shooting, designing and exploring ways to intertwine music with stories. Through that personal renaissance I founded Tapped Brooklyn, a platform, community and business that supports local, Black musicians from Brooklyn and beyond to help them become a part of the local and global art scenes. It’s interesting how the different parts of myself coexist; you can find me managing clients and developers for Salesforce implementation projects, but also behind a DJ booth or curating experiences centered around Black art for my local community.
Q: What motivated you to get started with Tapped Brooklyn?
Not long after I moved to Brooklyn, I frequented different shows across arts, music and culture that existed in pockets of the city. I was experiencing the full, cultural richness that New York City had to offer, but realized that it was not the case for many others. Some of the best shows and most talented performers were the ones I experienced underground in the community- but they are never widely advertised. As I started to casually document my city adventures on Instagram stories, many people started reaching out to me about where I was and how they could experience them too. This was all starting to happen as I was serendipitously meeting and engaging with the same local, Black artists who I listened to on Spotify- but in person. As an artist, you want your art to be accessible to people, but local Black artists rarely make it to mainstream media or art scenes.
A friend of mine suggested that I start a separate Instagram, so I did just that. From the beginning, Tapped Brooklyn took a very grassroots “for the people, by the people” approach. Originally, I wanted to promote shows happening in Brooklyn from Black and brown artists, but COVID lockdowns were announced days after I started the page, so I shifted to storytelling by interviewing local artists. From there, it’s evolved. Tapped Brooklyn always shares its ideas with me, and I do my best to listen and execute them. It’s really rewarding witnessing how much the business has impacted the local community in a year since I started it.
Q: How have you grown your platform?
I’ve been able to grow my platform by viewing my relationship with social media as a tool to deeper connection, rather than the destination. It’s crucial to me that Tapped Brooklyn has a personal presence and while many of my activities existed online during the pandemic, it was because of the activism and community efforts that I was engaged with offline. For example, while I may discover an artist through Instagram, I’ll follow up with them for a coffee chat to learn more about their journey and who they are outside of their art. I support the artists who I work with on their whole journey, not just as it relates to music- I become a participant in their community and overall life. I’m proud to say that all of the artists who I’ve worked with, are a friend and/or supporter of my journey.
I’ve also been able to grow my platform by just staying active, no matter how small my steps are. After only 3 months of starting Tapped Brooklyn, I organized a Black Lives Matter benefit concert on Zoom that featured 4 local, Black musicians and in just 2 days, we raised over $2,100. I partner with artists to plan numerous shows for corporations and in the winter I also organized "Cozy Concerts" for musicians to connect them with the community and offer a paid performing opportunity amidst COVID. I also engage with other similar platforms beside me, who in return support me. Now that lockdown is over, I’ve been partnering with other local communities and organizations to put together in-person experiences, which also enhances word of mouth exposure. For me, impact always precedes numbers and in focusing on the impact, I’ve ironically been able to experience more growth. In a city like Brooklyn that is so interconnected, word travels fast and I’m always grateful for the people who continue to speak Tapped Brooklyn’s name into their communities.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
My overarching goal for Tapped Brooklyn is to include Black art narratives into our representation and conversations. As a Black person, we are so often defined by our trauma, and revisiting it is unfortunately the only way we are even attempted to be taken seriously. However, Black people are not only beautiful, but also the original creators of art and despite our trauma, we continue to create incredible art for the world to enjoy- even if we don’t receive that credit. It’s important to celebrate Black joy and elevate it so that we are not only included in the global art scene, but have access to it since we are often excluded from its benefits. I use this goal to vet everything that I do, for example, my virtual shows have always been donation-based so that they are accessible to the community.
In the future, I’d love to offer a creative community space for Black, Brooklyn residents to connect with their local art community and build meaningful relationships through the arts. I want to bring people closer together through intimate music experiences that simultaneously exchange stories from artists to fans and vice versa. I also plan to develop more dynamic content and touch upon other mediums that support artists’ music such as photography and film.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
My biggest challenge has been managing myself. For so long it was just me- building and maintaining the website, interviewing artists, writing the interviews, creating and posting social content, planning shows, maintaining relationships, engaging with partners, and pitching sales. It’s hard to think of strategy and goals when I’m in the weeds of execution. I balance a demanding corporate job so it’s been difficult realizing that my business is dependent upon my energy levels. For example, if I’m feeling tired, there’s no one else who can execute tasks for me and that risks specific tasks not being able to get done. But, I’ve been slowly growing my team with amazing and smart people who are helping me execute the vision and I’m grateful for their contributions and support!
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
My biggest advice is to just start- you can’t perfect what you don’t create and oftentimes, what you end up building may look very different from the idea in your head. Ideas evolve, just as people do, so in starting, you give yourself the grace to explore those transitions.
The journey also requires a lot of patience. It’s okay if you’re not experiencing a specific type of growth on your timeline; entrepreneurship is not about immediate gratification. Because of this reason, many people leave their business or ideas before they experience the fruits of their labor. But in staying consistent and honoring your journey, you allow yourself to be the expert who people call on down the line. Also, when your business starts to overwhelm you, know when to take breaks from it. Don’t give your labor of love the power to burn you out and rob you of seeing it through.
Lastly, no one knows your business vision like you do. While mentorship is important, always consult with yourself first. As an entrepreneur, many people who lack context will drive your business based on their own life experiences and projections if you allow them to.