HEAVY METAL EMAIL IS CHUGGING ALONG

From my newest project, HEAVY METAL EMAIL:

Every interaction with a fan on the internet could be the last – so do what you can to make it memorable. Use your “thanks for signing up” page to drive fans to your latest single or video, your upcoming tour dates, or offer a discount to your online store.

From ‘EMAIL AUTOPSY: GUS G, SHE SHREDS, AND MASTODON

Today was the fourth email I sent, since switching from a community site focus to the newsletter format just a few weeks ago. Feed back has been great, and folks are subscribing, and it’s led to a few fun conversations online.

I’ve done two interviews already, one with Jeff Gretz of Zao, and then one with Professor Pizza of Axeslasher. It’s sort of wild that here I am in 2021 talking to band dudes about… email marketing, but here we are! Got three new interviews lined up, too. So the next three Mondays are set with some pretty cool features.

SELF-PROMOTION CAN BE SANE

Oh my goodness, this from Delon Om, in an interview with Authority Magazine, talking about the ‘5 things I wish someone told me when I first started.”

Meritocracy is a myth. I always believed that my art would speak for itself- that its merit would earn recognition and validation. Unfortunately, I have learned that is not the case.

It really does feel like the loudest people, or those who devote the most time to social media, are the winners. Like @DonnaMissal said:

“Color me bitter but im tired from yrs of begging for money to pay other artists like directors even half their rate while teens with ring lights are signed for millions.”

Yes, “putting yourself out there,” or doing “self-promotion” is needed, but it doesn’t have to look like what everybody else is doing.

Sure, in the short-term you can build an audience like that, but as Professor Pizza said in a recent interview with me at HEAVY METAL EMAIL:

“The mental math equation went from ‘What do I think our fans would like?’ to ‘What do I think will break through the algo that our fans will tolerate?’ The short answer is you have to start looking at and leveraging trends, which by-in-large, are fucking lame. We’re a thrash band comprised of ghosts of vengeance. We shouldn’t be doing funny hand dances, or the running man.”

I fully believe you don’t need to get on TikTok. Why? Because you’ve already got fans that you’re not reaching on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. Not because your content sucks, but because of algorithms!

Now you have a choice – play the algorithm game, or don’t play the algorithm game.

Make your thing so good that people will type your domain name into a browser to see what you’re up to. Have an email list, so you can send an email to those people every now and again.

This is how we did it pre-2006, before Twitter came on the scene. And the internet is still here. People still go to websites to buy things.

They can go to your website and buy things. It’s possible.

GOOD SONGS DIE WITHOUT GOOD PLANS

“Write good songs.”

This is the advice one of my close friends (whom I work for) gives to bands asking how to “make it.”

Of course, this is leads to further discussion.

Great songs with a bad plan fail,” says Amber Horsburgh.

How do write good songs? Write bad ones. And you write bad ones by writing a lot of songs.

Yes, inspiration may come from the heavens and bless you with a hit.

But even then, you still need to know how to craft and mold that idea into an actual song.

So you gotta work.

That doesn’t even mean posting something everyday. You can do this quietly, without sharing with the world.

Write as often as you can. Do your thing as often as you can.

As I wrote about a year ago:

So don’t look too far into the distance. Make your mistakes now, get your bad stuff out of the way this year. Your work today is to keep piling up your art, your work, your magic.

Learn Your Lessons Each Step of the Way

DONE WITH GUILT

I got lost recently, digging through the Subtle Maneuvers newsletter archive. This quote struck me.

“As an artist and freelancer, there’s a lot of ways you can feel guilty on a daily basis. Guilty for not having enough free time, guilty for having too much, guilty for loving your job, guilty for not loving it. I’m trying to eliminate as much of that guilt as possible, because it’s totally useless. Since quarantine, I regularly sleep until 10. I have dessert every single day. I exercise when I feel like it. I relish my free time when I have it, relish my work when I love it. I ask for an extension if I’m just too sad to meet my deadline. I don’t care anymore. I’m done with guilt. Life is too short.”

Hallie Bateman

YOU NEED DATA

Photo by Kris Møklebust from Pexels

TikTok hit one billion users globally in September, while Facebook still as almost three billion.

Yet here we are, in 2021, and there are fans of your band who still don’t know about your latest release, tour, or merch drop.

Imagine if you had the email address of everyone that bought a ticket to see you play over the last five years. You could then email them the next time you’re coming to town.

Guess who has that email?

The website they bought the ticket from.

Not you.

Imagine if you had the email address of everyone that streamed your song on Spotify or Apple Music.

Guess who has that data?

Not you.

Sites like Spotify, Ticketmaster, Amazon – they have SO MUCH FUCKING DATA, and they make so much money from knowing who buys what at every hour of the day.

Meanwhile, you put out three albums, went on seven US tours, and you can’t email a single person who paid you money for the honor.

You don’t need to be on TikTok. Your friend of 10 years who supports you and loves you, but doesn’t go to shows much anymore doesn’t even know about your new album. You think being on TikTok is gonna help?

You need data. You need an email address. You need to know who bought your fucking EP last week, and three years ago.

That information is so important, there’s no way that Spotify, and Facebook, and Ticketmaster will share it to you. It’s valuable data, and they make money on the back of your hard work.

They hold the power, you don’t.

Start an email list.

A TEAR IN THE FABRIC OF LIFE INDEED

These six songs from Knocked Loose pack more menace and grit than some bands entire discographies. A monster step forward for the genre.

The band also made a video to accompany the entire release, too. Amazing.

Everyone Can’t Be Everywhere

I keep coming back to this move to the next thing. Things like SnapChat, TikTok. The joke of how, “oh, that’s for young teens!”

Am I stuck in the past with this email marketing stuff?

But then I think how I’m probably not going to get hired by someone that’s deep in the TikTok world. My next freelance client probably isn’t coming by way of a video clip that dispappears in 15 seconds. Like, fuck, I don’t even know if that’s still a thing with Snapchat.

Is the idea of selling vinyl records preposterous in 2021? Totally. CDs and cassettes, too. But people, mostly older people, still buy them.

And there’s a lot of those older people in the world.

In the same way there’s a lot of younger people in the world who aren’t buying vinyl records, and CDs, and cassettes.

I think these large groups of people can co-exist, and just do what we do.

The older musicians we know and love aren’t switching it up, adding dance beat bridge sections, or doing clean vocals, or making silly videos (well, some are old dudes are making silly videos). They’re making what they’ve always made.

Are we missing the boat, then?

At some point we have to let the kids have their thing.

Things like razor scooters. What the fuck?
Some of the youthful slang, right?
Okay, most of their music.

So why this guilt, or sense of obligation that these apps that come out, that we somehow have to be on them, too?

Is it the idea that “well, that’s where everyone is?”

Again, kids that rocking razor scooters (or whatever they’re called) probably aren’t buying Red Fang records. Like, why do we need to hang out there?

Sure, lots of adults are on TikTok, drawn in by the “un-ending stream of video content.”

I get that.

But everyone can’t be everywhere.

Everything isn’t for everyone.

Facebook is in flames, and it’ll take Instagram with it.
It will only be a matter of time before Twitter finds itself in the same position.

Are we really these nomadic digital citizens, that when one host dies, we must seek out a new one to attach ourselves?

You still need an email address to buy concert tickets, listen to music on a DSP, or buy records. That’s not changing.

Maybe it’s okay to skid off the runway of the firehose of updates and breaking news, and just get back to the shit in front of us.

Including that vinyl we ordered six months ago and we forgot about, and there it sits on our front stoop, waiting for us.

ON MOVING THINGS, BREAKING STUFF

So I set up my new HEAVY METAL EMAIL project using Circle, which builds amazingly robust and feature-packed community software. That was a few days ago.

Then about a week later, after some real-time use of administering a community site… I realized that I went the wrong route. I’ve got no experience running community sites, but I sure know how to run email campaigns and newsletters.

So over the weekend I decided to move things to Substack, for a few reasons.

  • The people I’m trying to reach (metal folks) aren’t very familiar with “community sites,” but they know what newsletters are.
  • If I’m going to promote how awesome email newsletters are, I should probably be running one in real time.
  • Circle has a hefty monthly fee which is very worth it if you’re into the idea of running a community site, which I quickly learned that I wasn’t.

Move fast, break things, huh?

I felt it was better to suffer the “embarrassment” of a quick course correct than trying to learn on-the-go and navigate the world of being the admin of a community site.

Sign up for HEAVY METAL EMAIL here: https://heavymetalemail.substack.com/welcome

Just Be Better

Been thinking a lot about this press conference statement by Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles:

“If you’re fixing free throws, if you’re getting better as a player, none of this is happening. So everybody can bitch and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you.” ESPN

Just play better, man.

A friend and I have a mantra we share, very simply, “just be cool.”

My mind is heading towards “just be better each day.”

I’m not talking about some quantifiable metric, some hustle, some “get 1% smarter everyday” grind. Better goes great with sports, or sales, but in life it’s different.

Just appreciate, be grateful, be present, be mindful. I know, magical hippy dippy new age bullshit, but whatever, I have to live inside this brain for the rest of my life, so I’m going to use what I use.

Just be better. Just experience better? Just be?