This year TikTok got more traffic than all of Google, which includes Gmail, Maps, search, and about a million other things.

It’s a trap. Just like every social media platform that came before.

It’s a new gold rush, right? You have to get a TikTok account, they say.

But what about writers? Or poets? Teachers?

There was a time when TV production involved dozens of people, a studio space, and tens of thousands of dollars of equipment.

Now we have 4K cameras in our pockets and we’re expected to shovel video content into a new social media platform everyday.

When, in fact, I’d say 99% of of still haven’t managed to optimize our websites or social channels to sell something, get hired, or build trust.

But yeah, let’s all sign up for TikTok.

Just because your audience heads to TikTok doesn’t mean you need to meet them there! People are allowed to leave your shop, set down your book, listen to other bands.

Focus on who is in front of you. And get their damn email addresses, while you’re at it.


Saw this randomly on LinkedIn, and felt this in my bones.

Thinking back, 15 years prior, while working a desk as an Executive Assistant at Interscope Records, I’d regularly email a Music Industry curated jobs list to a small group of colleagues and friends of friends. The “Riggins Recruiting: Job of the day” sent (1) job daily that was passed along to me from other assistants and hiring managers at Universal Music Group and around the industry.. This wasn’t a business, it wasn’t even a hobby. It was just what I did and loved doing. “Riggins Recruiting” became me.

My advice, in 2022 just become who you are… forever evolve, take calculated risks, improve processes, deliver results, help your friends and friends of friends BECOME. Don’t be afraid to be your true-self and switch up your career every now and then.

Tony Riggins from LinkedIn

I love the rouge nature of sending a regular email out to connect. To serve. To just help.

“Become who you are,” which is something I’ve been very intentional about in the last few months. Being self-employed, you’re on your own with trying to shift your focus. Started Heavy Metal Email in October, and just two months later change is in the air, and I love it.

The focus in 2022 is more email marketing work. Serving growing bands and artists, helping them reach their audience directly, and lessen their reliance on the house of cards that we call social media.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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

Keep Taking Shots

From @fortelabs:

My advice to almost every creator: you’re being way, WAY too strategic

Until you’re making a million dollars on the internet you’re in beta

Take all the time & energy you’re spending strategizing and iterate as fast as you possibly can

Every piece of content is a shot on goal

You can practice your jump shot everyday, but until you get into some pick up games every day, you’re missing out on valuable lessons.

That’s something I’m going to stress in my HEAVY METAL EMAIL community – make a plan, and send an email every week to your fans.

Ship something every month. Send that newsletter. If you want to write music, you don’t pick up your guitar once a month. You spend time with it everyday. You don’t get better at taking photographs by spending all your time on camera sites and forums – you’ve got to get out there and make some photos!

There’s a time for book learning, but there’s also a time for rolling up the sleeves and getting your hands dirty.

What’s Your Social Media Exit Plan?

From 2014: here

Someday you’re going to log into Facebook for the last time.

Same with Twitter.

Someday you’ll uninstall Instagram.

And so will your fans.

What’s your social media exit plan?

People don’t dump their email. And email will outlast whatever zany social media platform comes along in the next four minutes.

Look, you’re a songwriter, not a social media manager.
You’re a photographer, not a marketing guru.
You’re an artist, not a content creator.

You should be spending your time working on your magic, not increasing shareholder value for mega-corps. Every time you post on social media, you build value for that company. That’s why writers get paid to write for website – their articles and interviews get posted, which brings people to the website.

Hey! You should be getting paid!

So slow down on posting everything to social media, and save it for your email list.

Start an account with Mailchimp, Substack, or MailerLite.

The magic is this: send out an email, and it goes to all your fans. All of them. You can’t do that with social media unless you pay money.

Then, every two weeks or so, send out an email to your fans. Yes, you’ll have enough material to send every two weeks.

Include some of the photos you posted to socials (chances are 80% of your followers didn’t see ’em), write a few words about them. Talk about your new work, your new project. The things you’re passionate about.

Tell people you’ll be sharing your recording process. Your behind the scenes work. Your unpublished work. Lyric ideas. Maybe share some tips on how you create some of your magic.

“I want to share my magic with you; sign up here.”

“I’ll teach you something that I learned the hard way in each email.”

“I love horror movies, and each week I break down my three favorite scenes from the best (worst) horror flicks.”

It’s time to think about social media exit plan.

One on one coaching / teaching about email marketing / social media / website / strategy for creative types who don’t want to think all the time about all this stuff. One hour session, $100. Shoot me an email and let’s get started: hi@sethw.com