Can’t Lose if You Don’t Play the Game

From Spotify’s editorial and algorithmic playlists:

“In some cases, commercial considerations may influence our recommendations.”

So how do you compete with payola? Don’t play the game.

Link to your own Bandcamp. Share your own playlists. Work with other artists to create compelling art that your fans will devour.

Right now Spotify is for the masses. Easy to consume. It’s a never ending buffet, and while your music is on the menu, you’ll never make enough to buy groceries for the week.

(h/t @cheriehu42)

Use Words as Weapons

When you get press, it can be tempting to post, “hey, go check out this piece of press!”

Really? That’s as exciting as cardboard.

If it’s an interview, use a pull quote. Use the words you spoke which translate your beauty and magic.

  • “Hey, go read my interview over at MEDIA OUTLET. LINK.”
    Bland, boring, literally every other artist is begging for the same thing.
  • “When I got back from a 10 hour hike in the desert, where I hallucinated and spoke with a space ghost, that’s where the album title came from. LINK”
    No one else gets to post that. Your story is fucking unique, take advantage of that.

The same goes for reviews.

  • “Hey, MEDIA OUTLET reviewed our new album. LINK.”
    Again, every other band, artist, writer, etc. wrote the same thing a dozen times in the past four minutes.
  • “An absolute banger album, and contender for album of the year honors already,” says MEDIA OUTLET. LINK.
    Again, no one else gets to say that about their album except YOU.

Big movies trailers use pull quotes, so should you.

Hell, if an outlet crowned your release as album of the year, you’re not really going to post, “Hey, MEDIA OUTLET said nice things about our album.”

Hell, no.

You say, “MEDIA OUTLET said OUR ALBUM is ALBUM OF THE YEAR.”

Social media is a lot like running away from a bear. You don’t have to out run the bear, you just have to out run your friends.

Every day there are a thousand artists posting bad copy on socials, so use a media outlets words as a weapon to cut through crap.

Always Credit People

This is a great bit of advice from artist and illustrator Caroline Harrison:

People putting out music: please remember to credit the album artist on your Bandcamp page! I spent a while down a rabbit hole the other day trying to find an album artist for something that just came out and had to scroll through a bunch of Facebook posts.

Via Twitter

Credit the album artist, the designer, the photographer, the engineers, the producers – all of ’em! Not only is it just nice and proper, but it also helps with organic search!

Don’t make your fans or curious parties dig through months worth of social media posts to discover who made your album art – put that information right where you release your music!

“This has the added benefit of making your bandcamp page more likely to come up if someone googles the artist, so it’s really a no-brainer for musicians to do this,” Jock Sportello via Twitter.

People search band names and album titles and song titles – and all sorts of goodies come up! The same happens when you search for artist names, photographer names, guitar player names, producer names, and everyone else. This isn’t just some “growth hack” to get more eyeballs, it’s just the proper thing to do.

Credit everyone involved, the people who made a vital contribution to the work you’re putting out there into the world. The deserve it.

Good Writing (Sometimes) Wins

I love this quote from Seth Godin:

Good writing is cheaper than special effects. In movies, that’s obvious. It costs far less to make The Big Lebowski than a Marvel movie. But the metaphor applies to just about any sort of creative project.

In my line of work it’s about writing a good song, which is a lot easier said than done. And even then, no matter how good, it probably won’t have first-week numbers like ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.’

You can also have the best team, the best marketing, the best “special effects,” and it may not matter one bit.

There’s Always More

More of more I think about “content,” and the notion that more of it is always the answer.

Around 2008 / 2009, a directive we got at AOL Music was “fill the search engines.” Nothing was too small to cover, the idea went, since someone out there could search for it.

Since you have all those stories, then you can post them to socials. I remember thinking back then that since we posted 20 times a day (TWENTY), then we could post all of those things to social media, too. So 20 times a day we got to throw a pebble at anyone would listen.

And that’s just one outlet.

When you got 25 music outlets posting 20 times a day, and posting 20 things to social media per day, that’s 500 “pieces of content” per day. In a week that’s 2,500 posts, Tweets, Facebook updates.

And that’s just music outlets.

It’s 2021 (some 12 years later), and now instead of just posts and Tweets, we have videos to watch, (more) newsletter to read, podcasts to listen to, Instagram Stories, and live streams to add to our calendars.

There’s more stuff, but the numbers of hours in the day is still the same.

The Messy Medium

I remember starting to write on Medium a few years ago, here and there, but something always felt off. I just never trusted a place I didn’t pay for with my writing.

“(Ev Williams) keeps talking like this company founded in 2012 is a brand new startup finding its way,” one (employee) told me. “At a certain point you’re not nimble and iterating. You’re just floundering and failing to follow through and execute.”

From ‘THE MESS AT MEDIUM

It’s a bummer, too. Ev Williams was a beloved name to me as I started my internet journey, back in the days of Blogger and Twttr.

Oh well. Find a host, install WordPress, and get writing.

Live Stream Thoughts

Working in music it’s hard to ignore the whole live streaming thing that a lot of bands are doing (and a lot of bands aren’t doing).

I’m thinking a lot about the smaller acts, the solo performers, the bedroom music makers, and how a lot of times it’s okay to not do a live stream performance. Like, there’s a lot that goes into live streams – the technology, audio issues, video quality, promotion – it’s a lot!

Remember – music videos are still awesome. You can take your time, plan your shots, get better audio / video, and then you have this music video you made, which can sit on Vimeo / YouTube / etc. for years to come.

And you don’t even need to make it about your music. I know, I know, but hear me out: you know all the cool video press you hope to get one day? On big name media outlets? Do that!

Is there a big holiday coming up? Take Halloween, for example. You could record a few clips of you talking about your favorite spooky movies, and release them every Friday in the month of October.

Those “gear talk” videos? Make your own! And make them your own! Drench them with your own style and wit and humor.

Make a video or two, or four, or 12. Get good at making them – nail the audio, the video, the aesthetic…. all that stuff you learn is a foundation, so when someday you really want to plan a live stream you’ll have the tech know-how and skills to make it great!

NFT Madness

As a young musician, a fledgling artist, a photographer just trying to find some work, do you need to get in on this NFT train?

No.

There are a zillion more people out there who trade in dollars and credit cards who aren’t giving you money already.

Figure out how to sell one more item this week. Read a book or watch some videos about sales. Spruce up your online shop.

Have you seriously done everything there is to sell your wares to people holding debit cards? Explored every nook and cranny of e-commerce, which has a track record of decades? Have you even started an email list, which has a higher conversion rate than social media?

You don’t need to jump on the NFT train anymore than you have to jump on the TikTok train.

Meet your clients, customers, your people where they’re at. They probably get paid in dollars.

You Don’t Have to Start a TikTok

Oh, no. You’re missing out if you’re not on TikTok.

“TikTok’s average monthly time spent per user grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 70% in the US and 80% in the UK – surpassing Facebook. TikTok is on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021.”

Social Media Today

Every social media network has an audience, just like every television channel has an audience. And you don’t have to be on the History Channel to be relevant.

You don’t have to be everywhere.

Have you mastered Twitter and Facebook and Instagram? Probably not.

If you have 58 followers on Twitter, those are your 58 people. Cherish them.
Only got 100 followers on Instagram? Would you be okay with 100 people at a show on a Tuesday night?

Work with what’s in front of you.

If the thought of starting from zero followers and learning a new social media network fills you with dread, don’t do it. It’s your art, your music, your career. You make the rules.

Have focus, have a plan. Schedule some social media posts (use Buffer), start an email list (use Mailchimp), and work on your art.

Daily Loop #33

Ever have one of those nights where you’re just like, shit, there is so much music I haven’t listened to yet?

So how’d I get to watching an interview with DJ Muggs? Well, as I’ve been getting back into actually making some music again, I’ve been going back to some of the music in the mid 90s that formed my musical taste today. That includes Cypress Hill’s ‘Black Sunday,’ of course, so I had to dig a bit!

And if you watch the video above, he talks about Led Zeppelin, and Kraftwerk, like… fuck, I’m a “rock guy” and I still haven’t submersed myself into any of their records. Which is why I stay up too late on Monday nights, wondering if I could just make a pot of coffee and listen to music until the sun comes up. I mean, I won’t, but at least my frenzied brain will take 45 minutes to slow the fuck down to fall asleep.

LIKES

“Strictly only ever want to be having a good time from here on out,” and “don’t be in a toxic relationship with urself,” @chipzel

“I don’t want a future where only people good at the internet get to make music,” @kazzmlaidlaw

via @BreenySchlacter
Via Killer Acid

Video by Ruvim Miksanskiy from Pexels