Heavy Metal Email

About a year ago I messed around with Circle for Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, but it was a bit much for what I needed. I’ve since moved the community side of that lovely group of people into Discord, where we have a nice 16 people hanging out throughout the day. It’s chill, and it sure beats hanging out on Twitter all day.

I’ve since started using Circle again, but now for something brand new: HEAVY METAL EMAIL.

It’s a community for heavy metal folks to learn how to use email newsletters to break free from the social media rat race.

Very niche, I know. By design.

It’s for people in the loud but lovable metal music community – the musicians, the artists, the designers, the photographers, the producers, the makers, the story tellers, and everyone else who loves the power of the riff.

We’re gonna use social media to drive fans to your email list.

And we’re gonna make your email newsletter great, too. It won’t be for “updates.” Our lives are too varied and rich to sell as “content.”

We’re gonna figure out ways to take everything we’ve been shoveling into the social media empires, and re-purpose it for our newsletters.

No more fighting algorithms. No more figuring out what the social media networks want this week. Nah. Fans first. Art first.

If this sounds like something you’re interested, join this just-launched community here: https://mosh.heavymetal.email

Food Courts Aren’t Where You Sleep

It feels like our stories are like handbills, lying all over the floor after a show.

We post random photos on Instagram, tell stories on Twitter, post “behind the scenes” looks on IG Stories, post a little on Facebook, dabble on TikTok and / or Snapchat.

We’re absolutely stuffing our handbills (or flyers, whatever you want to call them) into the hands of anyone walking by, and then heading to the next corner to repeat the process.

And along the way, we look back and maybe we picked up a follower or two, had some fun interactions. But when we come back to our home base, our website, there’s cobwebs and no one to welcome you.

It feels productive to be on the social media treadmill all day, and when we’re not it’s easy to feel like we’re being lazy. But those are lies.

Social media is where you hand out flyers, but at a certain point you gotta head back to the venue and play a show.

From Stop Handing Out Flyers

Bolster your website everyday. It’s all you got.

Make your music, put it on the website.

Make your videos, put it on your website.

Make your art, your poems, your photos, you wares – put it on your website.

Your website is your home.

Social media is the food court.

Use Your Face and Your Voice

ABOVE: the TLDR version of the text below

I’ve been following Loom for awhile, and using their super easy video making software for my Close Mondays operation for awhile now. I didn’t even realize it, but I made 36 videos with their software, dating back to November 2019.

For business, it’s sometimes nice to send a video to someone you work with instead of just a plain text email, especially when you want to show a workflow process.

I’ve also used this for not-business, too. Like this:

I made that video for Metal Bandcamp Gift Club. I link to it from newsletters that we send out, and also put on social media every now and again, too.

The point is this: All text looks like… text. But FACES. VOICES. SMILES. That’s the stuff, right there. Bands could use something like Loom to announce new songs, or shirts, or tours with images of the very things they’re working so hard to promote.

Like, love them or hate them, reaction videos work because they’ve ALWAYS worked. Ask any older music nerd, and they will fondly remember the MTV NEWS breaks… zip zap, here’s Kurt Loder talking about something. Outro music. Done. PEOPLE. VOICES. FACES.

So with the stuff Loom lets you do, you can do just a bit more than point the camera at yourself and upload it.

Add album artwork. Or merchandise photos. Tour dates. Tons of stuff. And the “big scary” part – YOUR FACE. But people like your face, they like YOU.

Again, text is great. Add an image to a Tweet. Cool. But they put faces on billboards and magazine ads and pre-roll videos. Imagine if the was just all text? BORING.

Anyways, go check out Loom.

Your Live Show Can Keep Making You Money Long After You Leave Town

A live show is the culmination of years of practice, grind, networking, and connecting with fans. It’s… a big deal. Now imagine posting photos from every show on your website. Photos of playing, with fans, load in, sound check. Then post the link on all your socials.

Remember – your website can have links to… your store. Where you have things for sale.

Imagine driving 1000+ people to your site every night, and then selling a few shirts. Or a record or two?

You do realize all the websites that cover shows are making money off you, right? They get on social media, “hey, check out our photos of so and so from last nights show in NYC!” They drive traffic to their website where they have banner ads, and prominent links to their Patreon site.

That could be you. You could be getting those eyeballs, turning casual listeners into rabid fans. Rabid fans buy merch.

The “content” you’re making sits on your socials. Yes, it looks pretty, but it could be working for you long after you leave the 3rd stop on your tour. Sell $100 per night through your website over 20 nights, thats $2000. Instead of just getting 2000 likes.

And here’s the thing – you don’t even have to do this yourself.

Since you’ll still be posting your thoughts and photos and all that to socials, you could have someone build those posts every night, without a lot of input. Let them curate the band’s photos, and maybe some social media posts from those in attendance.

Post the link on socials the next day, and drive a few hundred people to your site.

Hire someone (like me) to manage and build that. Make some money. Or, fuck, take this idea and do it yourself!

Just stop shoveling all of your life work onto social media for the likes, and the engagement, thinking the algorithm will magically make you go viral and somehow you’ll sell a shirt.

Note: this post started off as an off the cuff Twitter rant (here), which I then copied and pasted into WordPress. This post can now be updated, linked to, and read for years to come. Turn your social media posts into evergreen bits of magic on your own site!

WEEKLY LOOP for SEPTEMBER 12, 2021

Everything is a loop, it seems. We keep making the same mistakes, the same choices, the same levels of misery. Happy Sunday!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CTlLe7iDHbv/

LIKES

  • “I just cannot accept that my dad’s life or anyone else’s is a fair price to pay for our “back to normal,” @Amber_Coffman
  • “9/11 hits different riding up on 700k deaths no one cares about,” @Mollyissilly
https://www.instagram.com/p/CTplApgIznu/

WORK LIKES

  • “Now when I feel overwhelmed by work I take 2 deep breaths and say, “this is what you dreamed of. That’s what this work is for. And if this specific job isn’t it, we won’t say yes to this again,” @aundrelarrow
  • “The next big recruiting platform in tech is the 32 hour work week,” @gabe_g2i
https://www.instagram.com/p/CSt-iGELsCY

MUSIC LIKES

  • “*wakes up, puts on old school metal tee* man I love this band. wonder if their singer thinks the Moderna vaccine is a plot to inject microcomputers into the bloodstream,” @mountain_goats
  • “The label I work at had ITS BUSIEST YEAR EVER in 2020 and that momentum has carried,” @turnbullet666
  • “If you’re an artist, you will be an artist no matter what. I don’t think you have a choice,” Jasamine White-Gluz via @HandDrawnDrac
  • “When you focus on building your own shit, all the doors that were once closed start opening organically,” @Breezyb215
  • “You’d be surprised how many people are willing to pay $10 for an album when given the opportunity,” @BigSto

I moved Metal Bandcamp Gift Club back to it’s old school, Yahoo style layout. If you have a birthday and love giving gifts (and sometimes getting gifts), you should check it out.

stopped using Whoop after just five months. There was nothing wrong with it, but my head needs less numbers and things to feel guilty about these days.

May your week be filled with good food, and cool evenings on porches.

The Social Media Party Sucks

I’ve been trying to nail down “community” with Metal Bandcamp Gift Club for a while, hoping to get back to the glory days of Twitter back in 2016.

I tried out Circle, but at $40/mo that was a steep learning curve. It’s a GREAT product, but I’m not looking to monetize and charge our audience for access.

So we started using Discord a bit, and it’s been nice to start having some conversations without spending more time on a social media network.

As you can see above, I’ve been linking notable albums that came out each day, however many years ago, just as a jumping off point for conversations (see, ‘We Love Anniversaries‘ for more on that). Maybe it leads to someone checking out an old album for the first time. Or they buy an album from three years ago.

I’m working with my friend Jocelyn and her Creative Guts community. There’s a Discord, with some conversations going on. It’s already led to an actual video call with something, and that’s more than Twitter in recent years, for me at least.

It just feels like with socials, you’re on a merry go round, and there’s a million things going on around you the whole time. Or a food court. So many choices.

But with a Discord, or a website, or an email newsletter, when you read that thing, that’s it, you’re reading that thing, and I believe there’s value in that right now.

Getting back to these conversations that aren’t in the public space. Putting the interesting stories, helpful articles, links to new releases – bringing them to the community first, rather than social media.

That’s how social media blew up. Everyone brought their best items to the party, so everyone kept showing up at the party.

Lately, though, that party sucks.

We Love Anniversaries

So you didn’t release a seminal record 20 years ago like Converge did with ‘Jane Doe,’ huh?

Notice all the articles written about that? All the buzzzzz from people chiming in on social media, expressing how time flies, and all that?

People love anniversaries. People remember bad anniversaries (deaths, divorce, etc). For whatever reasons our brains are wired to appreciate them a bit more, which is why they do so well on social media.

“Hey! This album turned 10 years old today!”
“Today is when we started our first European tour!”
“Our drummer has a birthday today!”

It’s free and easy, and it doesn’t feel like click bait because it’s just 100% true. Putting out an album five years ago, or releasing a video during a pandemic – that’s hard.

https://allfather1.bandcamp.com/album/century-sessions-vol-1

So document all your big moments – those first out of state shows, the first demo, the first print review, your singers birthday, the first guitar you bought (or the most recent one). I mean, be cool about it – don’t go overboard, but you can use this to mix things up a bit.

Bonus idea: write a post about the notable anniversary on your site. Write a paragraph about that first album, that first show, whatever. And of course, be sure to include photos, video, and a bit of text. Get everyone from the band to write a little bit. Hell, do a Zoom call or a podcast, and put that in there.

Then, when you post the anniversary to social media, include a link back to this new post!

Magazines and websites write big posts like this because they work. I mean, it helps if you’re Converge or Slipknot, sure. But start where you are – neither of those bands became who they are overnight. They did it one fan at a time, and that’s exactly what this helps with.

Connect In Ways The Giants Can’t

I wrote this back in 2014, in my Novelty & Nonsense email newsletter:


There are “social media tips” everywhere. Most will tell you to automate, schedule, blast, post every hour – every 30 minutes! Post more Instagram photos, images on Facebook, special deals every morning on Twitter. Day and night. Mind your time zones. Fill those schedules. Program your entire week. 

Let’s think about analog and digital for a moment. Slow vs fast.

:: There are Keurig coffee machines, and people who wait five minutes for pour-over coffee.

:: There are burgers you order from your car, and there are sustainable restaurants with hour-long waits. 

:: Stream music on your smart phone, or flip over a record when Side A is done.

One is not better than the other. Some people choose one, some people choose the other.

What do you choose? What does your audience choose?

:: The person who enjoys fashion and style may likely want to be inspired, not be reminded daily of your sale. Inspire, don’t annoy.

:: The person who enjoys fine coffee can only “like” so many photos of latte art per day. Tell great stories, stop dumbing it down.

:: A person that buys $22 magazines (like Offscreen Magazine) may not have need your 13 updates per day.

This flies in the face of the, “we finally reached 10,000 likes!” boasting, but stop imitating the corporate brands with your online marketing. That’s not you. You have the ability to connect with your audience in ways the faceless giants can’t afford.


We keep hearing about “being authentic,” even way back in 2014, and it’s even more true today. You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not.

Don’t “fake it till you make it.” What if that fake-ness attracts a fanbase that you despise? Or you make work you’re not proud of. Do you think it’s going to be easy after five or ten years to suddenly change course?

Be who you are – there are thousands of people out there waiting to discover you.

Inheritance, Existence

Via @simonwilliam, Deputy Music Editor at Rolling Stone

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry passed away this weekend, and above you can see two things in action. Two bold truths in the universe we live in now:

First, “I inherit words, songs, and power.” As an artist, a musician, a photographer – you’ve got the skill. The mindset. The talent. That doesn’t mean riches, or a payday, or even a career. But look at the list of artists paying tribute and respect to Perry in this piece by Rolling Stone; Mike D of The Beastie Boys, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.

Second, “the publication that ran that interview is no longer existent.” I’m able to listen to the music of Perry because music is forever. It’s on YouTube, streaming services, it’s in used CDs bins in music shops around the world.

When a URL expires, it’s gone. Yes, there’s the WayBack machine, but for all intents and purposes, it’s gone. Vanished, without a trace (sans the screen shot above).

Do the thing that is your legacy endlessly. Cover your walls in prints, in art, in CDs filled with demos from 2001-2002. Leave pieces of yourself everywhere in whatever medium you can, as often as you can.

Yes, even online. Just make sure you re-up your domain name every year.

Online Music Marketing Beeps and Boops

Some bits and boops from pieces I’ve posted over on my Ko-Fi page:

But if you want new people to hear your music, push your music. Not everyone who visits your social media profile is a fan just yet.

Embed the audio right onto social media. Upload a 10-15 second clip. Often. Then, include a link to hear the full song, preferably where they can also purchase it.

Audio First

I made a video describing how to gift someone an album on Bandcamp:

Wrote a bit about hyping your music beyond a commodity item,

You’re not selling MP3s, just like not you’re not selling eggs in the dairy aisle. No one remembers a carton of eggs, but people get lyrics and band logos tattooed on their bodies. 

Honor Your Music

Then wrote a bit about the “pre-release” stage of putting out music, or a fundraiser, and the importance of gathering emails,

Just like handing out flyers to shows back in the day, you should be getting an email address.

Announce your thing, and include a “call to action.” Give people who really care about your thing a link to click, and ask for an email address.

Get Some Emails

I’ve been involved in this “online music” thing for 20 years now, and if you count all the years of playing in bands, traveling to shows, and hanging out with musicians, make it 30 years. But I’ll say this – anyone who says they have THE answer is still full of shit.

Things move at the speed of light, but I know two things:

Write good songs.
Have fans.

I know, sounds stupid simple, but it’s all that fucking matters.

Don’t get me wrong, a “good song” doesn’t mean just something that’s performed at halftime at the Super Bowl. If you like it, that’s a good song.

And if a few other people like it, well, I 1000% believe a few more people would like it, too. It’s a matter of getting it out there, which is where so much of the struggle is these days.

Just posting “NEW SONG” on Twitter once, on a Tuesday at 2:38pm doesn’t cut it (unless you’re Radiohead).