Let Your Work Cook

During a recent Instagram Stories doom-swipe session, I noticed Kendriana post about one of her posts being removed because IG thought it broke some rule. A physical trainer I follow had their entire account wiped out because of some unknown one-and-done rule breaking (thankfully they got their account back).

With each day that passes, it’s never been more important to move your followers to your website. To your email list. Get your biggest fans to follow you to a platform you own.

Social media is so enticing for artists, photographers, musicians, etc because of the instant feedback. The interaction. The release of endorphins that come from instant validation.

The entire system is built on that, but it’s a system to benefit them, not you.

You feed their system day and night with content, with engagement, with interaction. In turn, they harvest your user data, habits, track what you look at and like, and sell it to advertisers.

So long as you keep feeding social media your time and effort, they will make lots of money.

The alternative is update your own website. Send an email to your newsletter subscribers.

Neither give you the instant feedback, but stop and consider that instant isn’t alway better.

Sometimes you need to let your work cook.

Make your site something that’s so rad that people would miss it if it were gone (via Seth Godin). Make it something that is a part of people’s lives. Something worth typing into an address bar (or even bookmarking).

Make your thing so great that people will trade you their email address and the sacred access to their inbox just to keep up with you.

When you spend four hours a day on social media, you helped sell a lot of ads.

When you fill your site with two years worth of content, you had a body of work. Anyone with a web-browser can see your talent.

Your magic.

Do Your Thing For Your People

This post inspired by a lovely Tweet storm by Vince Edwards:

He’s talking about this live-streams that Marc Rebillet did today, on his way to one million subscribers on YouTube.

It’s easy to be a band and figure, okay, we want to do a live stream, so we have to just do a live performance and set up lots of cameras, and…

Well, yes, you CAN do that, but that’s a huge undertaking!

You can also just open up a live stream and talk about horror movies, or sports, or whatever.

Like, now is the time to connect and interact. Bands are competing with the The Madalorian and freaking COVID-19, like… do something.

I always think about all the shows I’ve gone to over the past 30 (?!?!) years – it’s the people. The people you meet at the show, in between sets, after the show in the parking lot, all that… that’s a part of the live show experience.

You can re-create that from your fucking porch with a decent WIFI signal and an iPhone.

Do you have to become a Loop Daddy? Nope. Do you have play guitar and videos games at the same time?

Nope.

Just do your thing, whatever that might be.

About Little Things

What’s striking about Twitter at this moment in time is that you are a minute away from being national news. Literally. You could reply to a movie star, sports figure, or politician and a simple RT could change your life.

I mean, somehow we know of a person that calls themselves Dog Face from the internet because they paired a great song with some Cranberry juice. I love that guy (his real name Nathan Apodaca).

We also know that people counting votes in PA are getting death threats because of conspiracy theories amplified over social media channels.

Tonight I picked up my phone to check Twitter for the 1000th time, but I hit my time limit. Logging into Twitter via the web was my next move, but I thought better of it, instead logging into my silly WordPress site instead.

Who needs my voice? Who reads this?

But I remember the advice I give to friends about starting YouTube channels, or podcasts – we have enough Joe Rogans. We need more podcasts with soft spoken hosts talking about science. We certainly don’t need anymore websites that load up 48 trackers and post every 12 minutes – we need more regular people, talking about regular things, on a regular basis.

What started out as 10 posts a day became 20 because that meant more excuses to post to social media to come read all the 20 posts on our sites. You knew you could come to a website and expect to read something new after lunch.

And that’s social media – you can come back every minute and find something new. It never lets you down, except it’s horrible for your brain.

So let’s write for no one, do a podcast and never aspire to do ad reads. Let’s move slow, read slower, and pay attention to a handful of things (and people) that matter.

Build That Email List

My buddy Bill Meis on Twitter:

Friendly PSA for young bands and artists.

Start your email list now and don’t stop.

No, seriously. The fact that even big bands don’t have landing pages feeding a general info mailing list is BONKERS.

Facebook and Twitter aren’t in the business of sending you traffic and clicks for free. And you can’t export those connections (hello, MySpace) when they go belly up.

Build. That. Email. List.

And Instagram is OWNED by Facebook. More algorithms. More noise. They’re 1000% gonna fuck it all up. But an email from a fan, someone who bought your album on Bandcamp? That is gold.

Your email doesn’t have to be ALL BUSINESS either. Remember – some people have left Facebook and Twttr. You can use the stuff you write on social media, repackage it, and send it to your list!

Hell, this post is just from a handful of Tweets, and can be found three years from now from a Google search, or linked to from another website.

Have you stuff somewhere, and not just sitting on social media sites.

Screen Time

I meant to start this blog post an hour ago, but of course got distracted by my phone. A click here, a scroll there, and before I knew it, the time just rushed along without me.

Got me thinking of this whole idea of “returning to blogs.” A friend mentioned in an email (hi, Jay), about how we wouldn’t spend too much time reading long form posts and ideas from a ton of people, which I get.

I just remember way back when… early 2000s. Websites weren’t updated regularly, but MESSAGE BOARDS WERE. A lot of those music-based message boards were almost the frame work for social media; a main idea is post, and then below are the replies.

Just like… social media is today.

That’s why I started my first music blog. I figured why not put the message board on the front page? Along came some BLOG SOFTWARE like Blogger, and Moveable Type, and WordPress, and whammo. A post, then comments below it.

But now we follow 1000s of “blogs” (people, brands, news outlets) who all post something every four minutes, and there’s a never ending stream of content to consume. Always something to miss, and always something to catch up on after an hour away from our phone.

So no – I don’t think those posts from all those people and brands and news outlets will spread out again. I don’t think we’ll bookmark a bunch of blogs form our friends to see photos of their dinner, or what they’re watching on TV.

But… maybe that’s an okay thing? Maybe we don’t need to keep up, and know everything all the time? Like the friend I mentioned in the beginning of this post… we keep current via email, but current isn’t what he’s having for dinner, or what movie he’s watching on a particular night, and that seems okay.

Growing Things

Last year I rebooted Metal Bandcamp Gift Club. Started in 2016, it fizzled quite a bit, and by 2019, it was running on fumes.

In October, I shook the dust off, kicked the tires, and got things rolling again. While the initial idea was formed and grew quite well on Twitter, I chose to move things to an email list.

Sure, the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club Twitter account has over 500 followers, but I know every time I send out a Tweet, not everyone sees it.

My last birthday Tweet had 712 impressions and 7 link clicks. That’s a 0.9% click rate.
My last email went out to 67 subscribers and got 6 clicks. That’s a 8.9% click rate.

Think of the work I have to put into growing my audience on Twitter. If I have 1,000 followers then what? Maybe 14 clicks?

But I’ve grown the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club email list from nothing to 71 subscribers in just three months.

It’s the Seth Godin idea; people like us sign up for newsletters like this.

Not everyone wants to get an email with a link to an absolute stranger’s wishlist when it’s their birthday, and that’s okay. This isn’t for “everyone,” this is for a handful of people who understand the power of surprising and delighting people they don’t know with music on their birthday.

And right now, and into 2020 and beyond, I believe that the audience who gets what you do, who knows what you’re about, they’re going to subscribe to your thing because not subscribing is missing out, so yes, you are that special, and you absolutely matter.

While you can continue to build on social media, make sure you’re building your email list along the way. When (not if) those sites shut down, you won’t be able to export any of those fans, followers, or subscribers.

Free Williamsburg Closing Up Shop

Founded in the late 90s on Geocities, Free Williamsburg has been through a lot. The internet, and this whole “BLOG THING” held lots of promise, but it’s hard to compete when so many eyeballs are diverted to the slot-machine allure of social media.

 A good chunk of this happened before a little old thing called social media even existed. Before Instagram, you’d go to photo sites like The Cobrasnake or Last Night’s Party, or to countless blogs like ours, to see what the cool kids were up to. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok just weren’t a thing. Today, they’re definitely a thing. And as FREE Williamsburg has turned fifteen… eighteen… twenty… we persisted (we’re stubborn) while the cultural currency that used to be defined by websites like this one shifted to social media and corporate-backed publications.

We Had a Good Run…

I wouldn’t say my music blog of the 2000s (Buzzgrinder) had a tenth of the pull and cool vibes that Free Williamsburg held, but we were sort of in the same zip code for awhile. Literally. I lived in Brooklyn from 2005-2010, and got to my share of shows in the area, and met up with people in Williamsburg because of my music blog thing.

A shame, too. Most all of content we talk about, link to, and share on social media is from a website. The interviews, the music videos, the big articles – they all sit on a .com somewhere, which you access via a URL.

The problem is sites like Free Williamsburg compete with a zillion other sites who are publishing 80 articles a day, and have cash on hand (or rather, funding…) to promote their posts.

Hard to cut through the noise when the noise of promoted posts and harrowing click bait articles rule the social-world, but Free Williamsburg had a spectacular run.

Relaunch of Metal Bandcamp Giftclub

I had fun putting MetalBandcampgiftclub back together again. I had been tasked by one of the helpers of the thing to take over the Twitter posing over the summer, and I totally dropped the ball.

What the heck is MetalBandcampgiftclub? Well, back in 2016 some friends of mine were having a rough time, and instead of wallowing, they decided to gift some wishlist items to friends on Bandcamp. Positive motion, you know? We were all interviewed for it in Bandcamp back then about the whole thing.

And I happen to know on good authority that the whole thing generated tens of thousands of dollar in revenue.

I’m relaunching it via an email list (you can sign up here) because not everyone is on Twitter these days. And, I really didn’t want to grow this again by expanding into Facebook and Instagram. My thinking; if you have a Bandcamp wishlist, you have an email address.

Now whenever there is a birthday (or a few birthdays), I will send out an email with links to those wishlists, and a recommendation or two.

The site was built using WordPress.com. New logo images from Vecteezy. For the emails I’m trying out Revue instead of Mailchimp since I wanted to play with something new (try it for yourself using my referral link).