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

Embrace Whimsical Links

This from a recent Twitter exchange, in response to the wonderful “Algorithm is Gonna’ Get You” article, written by Danielle Evans.

“Been thinking of dropping off IG for awhile. I gotta build up my own art sites and creator spaces. Just wish there was a positive online pool of people that congregate outside of algorithms and ads. That fosters connection and drives people to my art and projects. Maybe ello?”

@shootbydaylight

I just feel like leaving everything up to that “community pool” is a rough these days. It’s too centralized. Remember DIGG? StumbleUpon? Is the answer sites like Dribble, or Vimeo, or Flickr?

My dream is we get back to our websites, and letting the whimsy and awe of links do their thing. That happened for me recently with one of my daily loops. I noticed one video got a few more plays than the others, and discovered it was linked from another website – neato!

There was a time when we didn’t drink from the “content firehose” for hours everyday, bombarding our eyeballs with fear and dread mixed in with “oooh, a pretty picture of a sunset!” I think for our own health and sanity we need to back away from cramming everything into one site, one network, one silo.

Don’t Let Your Likes Disappear

Photo: Lyndsey Hansen Sunderland from Twitter

Each day on social media a 400 page magazine shows up on your doorstep, bursting at the seams.

And everyday, the previous day of wonder and delight has begun its walk into obscurity.

David Sark from Twitter

This is why I added the LIKES section to my Daily Loops videos. I know from doing the “blog thing” over several years that there are times when I’ll go back through my archive and find something I forgot about.

In that moment in the past something grabbed me, it was enough for me to hold onto it, to put it on this site, my little corner of the internet. Even if I don’t have hoards of readers, I have me, and I want to re-live and re-experience some of that magic.

Crocodile Jackson from Instagram

So my LIKES section is a collection of things that catch my eye, or my ear. For a bit I was embedding the Tweets or Instagram posts, but I fear that one day they could disappear.

And to think some people aren’t even on Twitter or Instagram, and they can’t see that magic, those bright colors, the rich hues of music and noise.

So now I’m adding those things to my site, adding a link to the source (of course), and looking forward to 2025 when I can come back here and see the magic that got me through the pandemic, this moment in time that people will talk about 100 years from now.

Delight Your Current Fans

The fantastic Andy J Pizza gives some solid, practical advice in this podcast, talking all about using social media for your benefit while being mindful of the cost.

One of the biggest take-aways – stop focusing on new followers and instead put effort into engagement. People who follow you are the fans at your show, the friends at your gallery show, the people who bought a print.

Keep putting out killer work so you’re top of mind for the people who already raised their hand and said, “I want more of this.”