NICHE AT SCALE

This from of the best newsletters out there, Atomic Habits:

If you go to Tokyo, you’ll see there are all sorts of really, really strange shops. There’ll be a shop that’s only 1970’s vinyl and like, 1980’s whisky or something. And that doesn’t make any sense if it’s a shop in a Des Moines suburb, right? In a Des Moines suburb, to exist, you have to be Subway. You have to hit the mass-market immediately.

But in Tokyo, where there’s 30-40 million people within a train ride of a city, then your market is 40 million. And within that 40 million, sure, there’s a couple thousand people who love 1970’s music and 1980’s whisky. The Internet is Tokyo. The Internet allows you to be niche at scale.

Niche at scale is something that I think young people should aspire to.

This comes from a Bloomburg Podcast, which I still need to listen to, but yeah, this is amazing.

It’s easy to look at the giant podcasts, the cool websites, the people living in vans and some wild, joyful dream life, doing yoga while the sun comes up.

But there’s so much space between doing nothing and being at that level, whatever level that is. And there are so many layers. So much opportunity.

I NEED MORE REYNLORD IN MY LIFE

I say I’m not big into the “streaming” thing, but I live Craig Reynolds from The Downbeat podcast and clothing brand and drummer for Stray From The Path.

He’s big into the Twitch thing (here), and I love his podcast. This one he did with Mike Johnston is JAMMED with useful information.

The thing for me is this: he’s not this super high energy, “WHAT’S UP GUYS?!?” sort of character that we see so much of on the internet. I so very much love and appreciate the chill tone, and I think there are so many people out there that are on the same wave-length, and I just want to see more of that in the world.

DO YOUR BEST WHERE IT COUNTS

Remember, all the “growth marketing” stuff you see on socials about companies who struck gold – they had EMPLOYEES working on that stuff non stop. It’s okay if you’re small biz or project doesn’t compare. You’re doing the best you can.

There are teams of people, with DEGREES, in marketing and stuff, getting paid six figures. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

You make hand bags, or sell donuts… a few tips and tricks and hacks can’t hurt, but it’s not magic. If everyone could do it (they can’t), they would (they don’t).

Like, think you need to hop on Tik Tok but still can’t manage to email your best customers twice a month? Maybe work on that first. Yes, fancy named digital currency is cool. So are dollars, and CRM tools.

GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE

This is a great quote from Sarah, The Illstrumentalist:

“You don’t need a million followers but the belief that your ideas are good enough to share.”

Music Tech

You don’t get to a million without ten. And you don’t get ten without sharing. Maybe not every single day – walk away from the computer and put down your phone – but every now and again.

Remember – online marketing and social media management are actual, full-time jobs. It’s a lot of work. But your real magic is the art you put into the world. You can learn or even hire social media and email marketing help, but you can’t outsource the thing that makes you unique.

FANS AND THE LONG GAME

The allure of social media is the quick like. The RT from a mid-size account that gets you 10+ follows. You can post anything, at any time, and within 10 seconds you’ll get immediate feedback.

But building something of substance, and not just flash, requires time. Years. Being a hot item of the month is one thing, but to sustain it? To keep it going? That’s the long game.

PUBLISH TO YOUR WEBSITE

It happened again. Another person was suspended from Facebook, and then they couldn’t reach their fans.

Zuck deactivated me for a few days (was mildly mortifying) but it sparked some thoughts on what I feel insta is doing to our creativity / individuality

I’m also in the process of backing up every post, story, caption I’ve ever written and publishing it on a WEBSITE. It’s very 2010, would recommend 

@shopedelano on Instagram

Another app or service is not going to come along and magically replace Twitter or Instagram or whatever. The open web is here, as it’s always been. No lock in, no “walled gardens,” no algorithms.

But we’ll miss the likes and the RTs, the acknowledgment when we can post just a few words about a movie or a sports event and then at least 5 or 7 people will hit the like button, and we’ll feel like we’re not alone, or just shouting into the void.

I know this, because I’ve been writing on this blog since early 2018. It can feel pointless just writing all these words over the years, and not seeing some sort of acknowledgement.

Though I liken it to a conversation with an old friend. There’s no ROI. There’s no hack for a good phone call. No algorithm to crack with a best friend.

You just write, in public, for everyone to see. If it resonates, great. If it doesn’t, well, you have an excellent online journal that won’t suddenly disappear when Facebook’s server short circuit.

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

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.

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.