The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.
When I started Skull Toaster in 2011 I saw people were bored in between sets at shows, or standing in line, and rather than start some new metal blog that’s always begging for clicks, I put the THING right there on Twitter (@skulltoaster). The “pay off” was on Twitter. Skull Toaster “posts” were on Twitter, and replying was the “comments.”
The problem I’ve always wanted to solve is helping bands sell more music. Because when bands sell music, they have money, which then allows them to do things like eat and have health care.
I’ve been covertly getting the word out about bands with Skull Toaster since 2011, not with “SONG PREMIERES” or copy and pasting tour dates, but by asking a metal trivia question about a band (like this one for Vastum), and then sending a nightly email filled with words about that band, which sometimes leads to people discovering a new band, then possibly becoming a fan, and… buying their music.
And it actually works.
It ain’t a glamorous life, but it’s work I can be proud of.
This was hard, as not many folks put their Venmo / Cash app / PayPal link out there, but dammit they should (here’s mine: PayPal / Square Cash / Venmo).
If people want to think this is cheap, or “expecting a handout,” fuck them.
Life is short and times are tough. Sure, an artist should just “make paintings and sell them,” or a writer should just pitch more outlets and get paid that way.
But hey, maybe the artist doesn’t want to come out and say they can’t afford paint right now. Or the writer is left too exhausted after a 12 hour shift at a mind-numbing job that they have zero energy to even make a microwave pizza, let alone pitch an editor.
Don’t like when people “beg for money?” Great. Move along, mind your business, and stop talking shit.
Don’t like Patreon and Kickstarters? Great, you’re so edgy.
Instead of putting down everyone who explores various means of funding (and sometimes fucking surviving), shut your face and donate to a charity – or wait, is that somehow offensive as well?
Back in my senior year of high school I was encouraged to go to school for journalism. My thinking then was I could live anywhere and always have a job, since every town has a newspaper! Even with knowing what I know now I still regret not going to school for journalism.
Photojournalist Ryan Kelly won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for an image he made at The (Charlottesville, Virginia) Daily Progress on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
It was the day of a white supremacist rally. It was the day a man plowed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. And it was Kelly’s last day in the newsroom.
Kelly left to run social media for a Richmond brewery and still works as a freelancer.
Before the internet, before social media, things that were important to us still got in front of us. New music still made its way to us because we went to the local record shop, listened to the local radio DJ, or went to a show and picked up fliers.
We didn’t need to “follow” magazines we liked because we subscribed to them, then they showed up in the mail once a month.
The same can be done today, but it’s going to be a bit painful.
See, everyone is sending out multiple updates per day. EVERYONE. When everyone is employing a certain type of marketing it becomes invisible because there’s so much of it. Now mix in news, turmoil, sports, and harassment! Weeee, how depressing!
Less is going to be more. We can no longer out-hustle everyone in the attention economy. Serious, what’s a coffee shop to do? Post more latte art? What’s a band supposed to do? Post 18 more times about their next show which is irrelevant to 98% of their audience?
If I have to throw a pebble at your bedroom window every time I do something new, reminding you that I exist, then I’m not doing my best to even give you a reason to visit my website.
Change the world a day at a time. Buy an album or tshirt from a band. Text someone a song you like. Don’t let social media get you down, because it’s designed that way to keep you clicking and commenting. They make $$$ from misery because “misery loves company” is fucking true.
I say “text” someone deliberately. Social media companies aren’t in the biz of sending you clicks. They wanna charge bands, labels, and small biz (big biz, too) lots of money to reach their own audience.
So while you CAN tweet about a band you like, chances are it’s only being seeing by 10% of your followers anyways. Better to start an email list (which usually have 20%+ open rates). Or text a few pals. Make a zine or a podcast and send it around.
Your world was changed years ago before the internet, right? Well, we can still do that.
My second race of the year, and it was a fun one, with a good lesson learned.
I didn’t know the parking situation, so I found a nearby park and jogged to the starting area. I like doing this when I can, since warming up is always a good idea. It also gave me an opportunity to take in the area again, as I’ve passed through this little town before.
“Our social networks have turned us into unpaid factory workers, toiling in a giant system, one that pushes us to feel shame, to be in a hurry, to worry about nothing but the surface.”
If I asked you to upload all your photos and thoughts to this site (sethw.com), and told you I was going to use that content and activity to sell ads against it and make lots of money for myself, you’d probably walk away.
But that’s what we all do on social media. All our discussions make money for social media networks. Our event pages help pay for the health care of social media employees. Uploading vacation photos helps pay those six figure salaries.
Our time, our attention, our focus is shifted to the short term on social media, and when those sites shutter (and they will), we’ll be left with nothing.
Starting a music blog in 2001 was an okay move. Starting one in 2011? Maybe not.
Publishing lots of content to social media in 2007 was an okay move. But in 2018? Eh.
Everything comes down to relationships, which are built on positive feelings (I don’t know what sort of lasting relationships you want to maintain around negative feelings). Make someone happy, make them smile.
That feeling when the barista remembers your order? That’s a good feeling.
That feeling when BestBuy fucks up something for me again? That’s a bad feeling.
And if you can build good feelings, those vibes travel. So when you announce you’re leaving Facebook, your true fans will join your email list. When you ramp down your Tweeting, they’ll follow you to your podcast.
Not everyone will join, or follow, and that’s okay. Do what sits well in your own heart, and the fear won’t hold you back.