Can’t Lose if You Don’t Play the Game

From Spotify’s editorial and algorithmic playlists:

“In some cases, commercial considerations may influence our recommendations.”

So how do you compete with payola? Don’t play the game.

Link to your own Bandcamp. Share your own playlists. Work with other artists to create compelling art that your fans will devour.

Right now Spotify is for the masses. Easy to consume. It’s a never ending buffet, and while your music is on the menu, you’ll never make enough to buy groceries for the week.

(h/t @cheriehu42)

Teens With Ring Lights

Since I saw this Tweet below I seriously went to sleep and woke up thinking about the phrase “while teens with ring lights are signed for millions.”

Via @DonnaMissal on Twitter

I want to believe, “hey, those people with the ring lights will fade just as quick as they showed up. They’re here one minute, gone the next!”

But that still does nothing to help the artist pay a director, or hell, pay the rent. A few more thousand Spotify streams aren’t going to help, either.

SIGH.

I just want artists to make money so we can all keep doing this.




Use Words as Weapons

When you get press, it can be tempting to post, “hey, go check out this piece of press!”

Really? That’s as exciting as cardboard.

If it’s an interview, use a pull quote. Use the words you spoke which translate your beauty and magic.

  • “Hey, go read my interview over at MEDIA OUTLET. LINK.”
    Bland, boring, literally every other artist is begging for the same thing.
  • “When I got back from a 10 hour hike in the desert, where I hallucinated and spoke with a space ghost, that’s where the album title came from. LINK”
    No one else gets to post that. Your story is fucking unique, take advantage of that.

The same goes for reviews.

  • “Hey, MEDIA OUTLET reviewed our new album. LINK.”
    Again, every other band, artist, writer, etc. wrote the same thing a dozen times in the past four minutes.
  • “An absolute banger album, and contender for album of the year honors already,” says MEDIA OUTLET. LINK.
    Again, no one else gets to say that about their album except YOU.

Big movies trailers use pull quotes, so should you.

Hell, if an outlet crowned your release as album of the year, you’re not really going to post, “Hey, MEDIA OUTLET said nice things about our album.”

Hell, no.

You say, “MEDIA OUTLET said OUR ALBUM is ALBUM OF THE YEAR.”

Social media is a lot like running away from a bear. You don’t have to out run the bear, you just have to out run your friends.

Every day there are a thousand artists posting bad copy on socials, so use a media outlets words as a weapon to cut through crap.

Always Credit People

This is a great bit of advice from artist and illustrator Caroline Harrison:

People putting out music: please remember to credit the album artist on your Bandcamp page! I spent a while down a rabbit hole the other day trying to find an album artist for something that just came out and had to scroll through a bunch of Facebook posts.

Via Twitter

Credit the album artist, the designer, the photographer, the engineers, the producers – all of ’em! Not only is it just nice and proper, but it also helps with organic search!

Don’t make your fans or curious parties dig through months worth of social media posts to discover who made your album art – put that information right where you release your music!

“This has the added benefit of making your bandcamp page more likely to come up if someone googles the artist, so it’s really a no-brainer for musicians to do this,” Jock Sportello via Twitter.

People search band names and album titles and song titles – and all sorts of goodies come up! The same happens when you search for artist names, photographer names, guitar player names, producer names, and everyone else. This isn’t just some “growth hack” to get more eyeballs, it’s just the proper thing to do.

Credit everyone involved, the people who made a vital contribution to the work you’re putting out there into the world. The deserve it.

Plug and Replug

Announce your thing, and keep announcing it.

I always appreciate when people plug and replug their work on Twitter. Never feel bad about it. There’s always some article/book/video/ that pops up in my timeline and I think, “I need to check that out … but later.” Later comes and I can lose track. Your replugging reminds me.

@mattthomas on Twitter

Let’s say you finally get to announce that pre-orders are now open for your new EP. You post it on a Tuesday at 10am. And then…

People who happen to be on Twitter (or whatever other social media network you announce the news on) on Tuesday, around 10am… well… that’s the afternoon for folks in Europe. And just 7am for people on the West coast – sort of early.

So make sure you post about your link a few more times in the coming weeks. Yes, multiple times. For the very reasons listed above.

People might see your link when they’re sitting down to a new episode of something on Netflix. They might be in line at the bank, or waiting for a Zoom meeting to start.

Schedule out a dozen Tweets.
You can do the same on Facebook.
And even Instagram (using Buffer).

Schedule them out, even at weird hours. TV commercials get shown over and over again. You see the same banner ads. The same pre-roll ads on YouTube.

There’s no shame in talking up your thing multiple times on social media.

The Secret Sauce

From my Soft Run newsletter:

The fun was meeting a pal from Instagram. 
The fun was running on some new trails. 
The fun was seeing some great puppers. 
Clapping for a guy riding his mountain bike up a big giant hill.

Always good to remind myself of why I go running at all. It’s not the paces, or the mileage – it’s the magic that I get witness when I do it consistently. That’s it. I would have missed all of the above if I stayed home today.

Getting Out There

Started some weekend rides with my friend who doesn’t really bike much, and been having a blast. Biking is low impact, and there’s ton of rails-to-trails all over PA, so there’s hardly any hills to worry about.

The best part is it doesn’t stop when the ride ends. We get to find food, which is a whole adventure unto itself.

Covid Ain’t Over

Well, things were going in the right direction for a little while. But then…

I’ve seen this movie before. That slope is gonna keep going up. I’ve been to a local Starbucks a bit, to work. People flowing in throughout the afternoons with no masks. Packing the place every now and again. Same at the grocery stores.

And this is what we get. A new 7-day average of 472 cases.
Next week it’ll be 1000.
The week after it’ll be 2000.

“If you’re someone who is fully vaccinated, the pandemic is basically over for you in terms of your risk of getting covid-19,” Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja

I hope I’m wrong, but viruses are a lot more efficient than dumb humans.

Keep Announcing Your Stuff

Posted originally on my Ko-Fi page:

If you’re gonna announce a pre-order, plan on announcing again and again. Schedule it out. Plan on posting about it a dozen (or more) times. Remember – not everyone sees your post at 10am on a Tuesday. Not everyone is ready to click (they might be in line at the bank, or on break at work).

Put the link in every post. Include your nice artwork. This isn’t about “creating content” this is just making sure your billboard gets seen.

Embed a small video clip of your music. You’re competing with bands and artists who ARE already doing that. People like music. Maybe they’ll like your music. Give yourself a chance and make your music as easy to listen to.

If you’re just waiting for Spotify to start sending you $1 per stream, you’re gonna be waiting awhile. Build your email list. Make your music easy to listen to. Make it painfully easy for people to support your art.

There are big bands with label support, radio campaigns, slick videos, great press… and there are still people in comments 3 weeks after the album release going, “oh, I didn’t even know they had a new album!”

You don’t have to be super active on every social media network, but at least post more than once a month about your new upcoming release / art / show.

Waiting for Spotify, labels, and about a million other things to get fixed is a waste of time.

Running With The Past

This weekend I didn’t get out for any adventures. It was too hot at night, so I slept horribly, which meant I wasn’t well rested, so I didn’t want to over-exert myself and burn myself out. Better to be safe and healthy, I guess.

After working for a few hours at my local Starbucks, I hit the Bartram Trail, the trail head being less than half a mile away. I always make sure to get a cup of water when I’m doing these post-Starbucks runs, just to make sure I’m hydrated.

The trail is six miles out, six miles back, with a steady 0.5 to 1% incline for the first mile. I’ve never actually done the full trail yet on foot, so just did 30 minutes out to make it 30 minutes back, to get in a nice hour long effort. Low and slow, average pace was 11:48, to keep that heart rate down given the heat (86 ℉, 50% humidity). And really, every run doesn’t have to be hard. This was just enjoying time in the woods, in the shade, running past rocks that have been on earth for 480 million years.

Always nice to get in a post-work run.