Sounds, Creativity and a Journey Across the Globe

Editor’s note: Welcome to CM Stories. This is our first post in The Community Manager’s new series, kicked off by Natalie Keshlear, Community Manager of Soundcloud. Find out more about sharing your CM Story here.

Over a year and a half ago with sleep in my eyes, I boarded a late night flight to Berlin from California. I had a month to get to Germany after I accepted the job and I wasted no time in transit. I packed my bags quickly, sold almost all my possessions and before I knew it I was working at SoundCloud, helping to manage an online community of over 18 million sound creators & digital storytellers. That’s where my story begins.

A land far far away

So you might be wondering, “why the heck did you turn your life upside down and move thousands of miles away to a city in a foreign country for a job?” This is something that all my loved ones asked me as well (they are still asking) and the answer is simple: opportunity. I wasted no time to grab hold of it. I saw SoundCloud as something extraordinary, unique and incredibly exciting. It was a startup in a land far away that was generating a tremendous amount of buzz for what it achieved via its waveforms and user experience but more enticing for me was the community aspect. It was clear that the community was important, which for a small startup is not usually the case – here the community is at the forefront, led brilliantly by evangelist David Noel. When I looked more into the connections that were being cultivated across the globe through sound via the platform, I was awestruck.

When I saw the ad for my job pop up on the SoundCloud dashbox I felt like it was screaming my name, calling to me from across the Atlantic! It was MY job. I WAS going to get it. I immediately applied. Everything about helping manage a community of connected sound creators and enthusiasts made my heart beat so quickly and feverishly that I was compelled to create a website dedicated to getting me hired (inspired by 37Signals). SoundCloud seemed different to me and I knew the only way to get heard was to stand out and I made as much noise as possibly. I hooted and hollered and I got hired.

Listening, creativity and inspirations

I guess I have always been a community manager in some way. I mean I think it is difficult to really train to be a CM, there isn’t exactly a major in University dedicated to the position, but in the past I had held roles that covered all the bases of what I do today. I think some things that I really need to be successful (and this goes for most CM positions) are: the ability to listen, be creative and continuously be inspired. For me, listening is important. I have to listen to my coworkers when they have advice for a new series on the blog, I have to listen to my manager when he gives me constructive feedback, I have to listen to a community member when she feels threatened or happy or sad. Really listening is something that I am getting better at and sometimes it is a struggle, but it is key to a role that centers around being empathetic, caring and fostering to a community of human individuals who are interacting digitally.

Creativity is also a huge part of my job. This is a quote I love: “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” — Cecil B. Demille. It is so true and in my position I am lucky enough to enjoy the opportunity to be creative everyday. I get to tell stories through sound, think up cool new ways to engage our community aurally and I have the opportunity to play with language (words are my favorite playmate)! To stay creative, I make sure to look at things that inspire me. Some of my favorite inspirations are: Brainpickings, The 99percent, The Paris Review and Swiss Miss. Looking at these sites daily lights a fire under my butt and helps to encourage me to stay on top of my creativity!

The journey continues

We have come to the end of my story but in actuality it is only the beginning. I am still evolving in my role as an ambassador and representative to help share community members voices/sounds. Thanks for listening and I can’t wait to hear your story! Come say hi to me on SoundCloud, Twitter, and Tumblr!

Photos cred: Natalie Keshlear


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About the author

Natalie Keshlear

Natalie is an American CM in charge of content and engagement working at SoundCloud in Berlin. She loves digital storytelling, artistic expression, music, Stevie Nicks, words, travel & dachshunds. Connect with her via Twitter: @ntljk

DavidSpinks moderator

Great story Natalie!  Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with the community.

I'd love to hear more about how you guys look at community at soundcloud.  What are the unique challenges you face?  Music is such a vast interest, how can you possibly accomodate so many different perspectives and personalities?

Maybe we'll have to get you to contribute again (=


Great story Natalie! Excellent way to kick off the series.


Natalie I love your story!!!  I'm so impressed with anyone who can just up and move to a foreign land for a job.  I did it a few years ago, and while challenging, it's so rewarding in ways that I can't even explain.  Thanks for sharing!