Screen Time

I meant to start this blog post an hour ago, but of course got distracted by my phone. A click here, a scroll there, and before I knew it, the time just rushed along without me.

Got me thinking of this whole idea of “returning to blogs.” A friend mentioned in an email (hi, Jay), about how we wouldn’t spend too much time reading long form posts and ideas from a ton of people, which I get.

I just remember way back when… early 2000s. Websites weren’t updated regularly, but MESSAGE BOARDS WERE. A lot of those music-based message boards were almost the frame work for social media; a main idea is post, and then below are the replies.

Just like… social media is today.

That’s why I started my first music blog. I figured why not put the message board on the front page? Along came some BLOG SOFTWARE like Blogger, and Moveable Type, and WordPress, and whammo. A post, then comments below it.

But now we follow 1000s of “blogs” (people, brands, news outlets) who all post something every four minutes, and there’s a never ending stream of content to consume. Always something to miss, and always something to catch up on after an hour away from our phone.

So no – I don’t think those posts from all those people and brands and news outlets will spread out again. I don’t think we’ll bookmark a bunch of blogs form our friends to see photos of their dinner, or what they’re watching on TV.

But… maybe that’s an okay thing? Maybe we don’t need to keep up, and know everything all the time? Like the friend I mentioned in the beginning of this post… we keep current via email, but current isn’t what he’s having for dinner, or what movie he’s watching on a particular night, and that seems okay.

Time with Creeks

A walk along the creek always does me good, getting close to water. I’m not much of a swimmer, not really a beach person. Just get me next to the water, though, and I’m content.

It reminds me of 2010, when I was getting ready to leave New York City. I had time to bike around to various parks on the water front, up and down Brooklyn. I remember my heart was troubled around that time, but the rivers helped me navigate. The East River heard a bunch of drama and never judged me for it.

Today, a small creek was enough. Just a casual stroll before lunch, in the cold, but it worked. Time in nature isn’t just there for the troubling times, but for the upswings, too.

Just Start Driving

I’ve been following Matthew Luke Meyer for a bit on Instagram (here). From his IG Stories I found out he likes metal, and he’s always pushing the posi vibes, so I guess it was just the universe at work.

He recently did an interview with Tempo Journal, and I love this part:

“[Without running] I felt that I was just riding along with life, not really sure where it was going. But running gave me a way to move into the driver’s seat. Every day I’m waking up with a goal, something I personally WANT to accomplish, not just something that I have to do. That’s translated into the rest of life.”

https://tempojournal.com/article/the-brightest-stage/

Those early to mid 2010s were not kind, mostly to my bank account and career, which of course seeped into my mental and physical space as well. An inbox filled with automated rejection emails from jobs I applied to, or the build up of some interviews making it to the 2nd interview, then the 3rd, then a video call, then…

So lots of rejection ate away at who I was. Maybe I wasn’t actually good at what I thought I was good at. I slept later. I ate more cookies. I packed on the pounds.

But then I started eating better. Bought a rice cooker, and ate more veggies. Then I had more energy, so I started running. That hurt like hell, but… I was I was in charge. I was in the driver’s seat.

That was almost four years ago that I started running. Stopped waiting for approval, and picked myself, and it has found its way into other aspects of my life, too. Even the bank account.

Schedule Yourself First

Some thoughts from a book I’m reading, Free to Focus:

If a doctors appointment or a work call is on your schedule, nothing interferes with that. It’s a commitment, and you’re offline.

So as a remote worker / remote worker / freelancer / knowledge worker (as I’ve been since 2006), I believe you must schedule times throughout your way when you’re unavailable. Offline. When that last minute ask comes in, nope – your afternoon is booked.

Your afternoon is booked for your sanity, your health, and your mental clarity.

See also: “Focus is the art of knowing what to ignore,” from James Clear.

Switched from Revue to Mailchimp

When I started the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club email newsletter, I wanted to try something different, and I picked Revue. It turned out to be simple to use, and easy to manage, but as the list and my process has grown, I sort of outgrew it pretty quick.

Previously I was using a Google Form to collect people’s birthdays and other info for the Birthday Club. This is important stuff, as whenever there’s a birthday, an email gets sent out.

Even more important is people being on the email list! What good are these emails if half the people who sign up aren’t on the email list?

So I moved everything into Mailchimp, and set up the sign up form like the Google Form.

I just couldn’t add all that in Revue, which is okay, since they’re built more for growing a list and then monetizing it, or selling ads – and it’s great for that. I just needed something different.

Exporting my user date from Revue and uploading to Mailchimp was simple enough. I just needed to set up the extra fields in Mailchimp (Birthday, First Name, Last Name, etc.), and everything lined up just fine.

Now when people sign up to be in the Birthday Club, they’re on the email list as well. This removed an extra step from the process for the person signing up, and honestly not everyone who joined the club went and subscribed to the newsletter. Extra steps matter! So now it’s streamlined, which means I get to grow the newsletter at a better clip.

Another reason for moving back to Mailchimp is that the emails will look a little better now, too. Revue only had a few different templates, and didn’t let you add to much to the design, so it’s nice to have some of that control back.

Again, not a knock on Revue – their service is great for what they do! I’ve just been using Mailchimp since forever, so it was nice to “come back home.”

P.S. If you want to sign up for the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club Birthday Club, just click here to subscribe!

Running 11 Miles in the Snow

I knew a storm was coming, but that didn’t get me out of bed in time to beat the snowfall. Just as a left the house, it started snowing, and did not stop.

This ended up being two out and backs, with some spontatnous side streets and loops along the way. It wasn’t pretty, but it kept me close to home, so I didn’t need to drive anywhere.

The challenge with keeping it close to home is that you can quit any time. A warm house and coffee and dry clothes are literally just around the corner. But I knew I had to get these 11 miles done.

At one point I saw a fox run across the road. At mile eight a random dog started running with me, and stayed with me for a bit until his owners drove up with their mini van and he jumped in and bailed on me.

My feet were wet, my hands were on fire (new mitten gloves did their job), I was slightly chilled from my sweaty long sleeve, my glasses were fogged up most of the time, and there was about 2-3 inches of snow on the road – but I knew this run would make the next run that much more tolerable.

If I could beat this weather, these conditions, then the next run – or race – wouldn’t be such a nightmare, since I did it already.

A total of 26 miles for the week. A little over 60 days until my first marathon. There’s a part of me that thinks I’m not ready, I’m biting off more than I can chew, but I need to take the leap. Push some of my limits, get out of my comfort zone, and see what happens.

Write It Down

My to-do list app (Todoist) is worthless if it’s not the first thing I look at when I sit down to work.

This Christmas I got a nice Panobook (thanks, Bill), and it’s helped me finally take the plunge into a productivity concept that I’ve read about countless time but never put into practice; write down the most important things you gotta do tomorrow.

Now, when I finish up my work each night, I write down the 3-4 BIG THINGS I need to start in the morning.

Then, when I sit down at my computer, even before I wake my laptop, the most important things are right there in front of me.

Growing Things

Last year I rebooted Metal Bandcamp Gift Club. Started in 2016, it fizzled quite a bit, and by 2019, it was running on fumes.

In October, I shook the dust off, kicked the tires, and got things rolling again. While the initial idea was formed and grew quite well on Twitter, I chose to move things to an email list.

Sure, the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club Twitter account has over 500 followers, but I know every time I send out a Tweet, not everyone sees it.

My last birthday Tweet had 712 impressions and 7 link clicks. That’s a 0.9% click rate.
My last email went out to 67 subscribers and got 6 clicks. That’s a 8.9% click rate.

Think of the work I have to put into growing my audience on Twitter. If I have 1,000 followers then what? Maybe 14 clicks?

But I’ve grown the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club email list from nothing to 71 subscribers in just three months.

It’s the Seth Godin idea; people like us sign up for newsletters like this.

Not everyone wants to get an email with a link to an absolute stranger’s wishlist when it’s their birthday, and that’s okay. This isn’t for “everyone,” this is for a handful of people who understand the power of surprising and delighting people they don’t know with music on their birthday.

And right now, and into 2020 and beyond, I believe that the audience who gets what you do, who knows what you’re about, they’re going to subscribe to your thing because not subscribing is missing out, so yes, you are that special, and you absolutely matter.

While you can continue to build on social media, make sure you’re building your email list along the way. When (not if) those sites shut down, you won’t be able to export any of those fans, followers, or subscribers.

Very Noise

What? How? Is this even real?

Really enjoyed IGORRR’s 2017 album ‘Savage Sinusoid,’ but haven’t been keeping up, but really stoked I stumbled upon this clip. This song is from a new album, ‘Spirituality and Distortion,’ due out in March.

It’s video likes this that push me forward. With all the ills of this world, the strife and turmoil and impending supernova of Betelgeuse (maybe?), music is as important as ever. Getting a bunch of people into a practice space, or sending MP3 files back and forth over the internet to make music like… this?

Yes, why not?

Don’t Look Back

Start today and tell a friend about a band you like.
Go to a show and get there early to watch the opener.
Click around YouTube and Vimeo for some good music videos, and share them with your friends.

A decade ago you made a blog and hoped people read it.

Now we’re all our own media outlets, so choose your programming as such.