ON NOT KEEPING UP

“Oh I know, I read your Xanga.” I remember a friend telling me that from like 20 years ago. I told him something, and he replied with the above quote.

And now we’re all on whatever version of Xanga we’re on, and it’s… too much.

Lately when I’m about to post something on socials, I stop and think that maybe it’d be better to send to a friend. Not ALL my friends, but the people who are special in my life.

Why am I sending this photo to 2,300 followers on Twitter when maybe 5% might see it? That’s just 115 people. Everyone else is excluded because of algorithms.

So I sent a text to a friend today, instead. And they sent me back a photo from Joshua Tree, and told me how they just visited the Grand Canyon on a whim.

They didn’t Tweet that… at least if they did I didn’t see it. But if I never messaged them, I’d still never know.

I don’t know… maybe not knowing what everybody is doing is okay.

MAKE THE LOVE HAPPEN

It’s almost 2022 and bands are still loading their Tweets with hashtags, and posting URLs in their Instagram posts, and the whole time crying about how unfair everything is.

I have seen this for 20+ years now.

The world has changed, and there’s no going back.

The days of just having riffs? Man, I got 40+ years of riffs. What else you got?

If Coke commercials were just images of 2 liter bottles and the price for the past 20 years, they wouldn’t even be in business today.

Creepiness aside, this 2001 commercial is selling fucking sugar water.

And yet countless music acts treat their art like a commodity, with “free” downloads, limited time discounts, “merch bundles.”

Add in the fact that 90% of the time artists can’t be bother to actually link to the very things they’re trying to sell, because that would be “spammy” or gross. The art should “stand on its own.”

People will just know how to find it.

Coke gets away without dropping “find it at your nearby grocery store,” because they’re already in every fucking nearby grocery store.

Radiohead can just drop an album because they’re Radiohead. But your band, label, art, photography – you’re not Radiohead.

You’re spending hours every day on algorithm-throttled sites that limit your reach, your website (if you have one) hasn’t been updated in three years, you haven’t been collecting email addresses because “social media,” and you don’t have a prominent link to your Bandcamp page anywhere (if your music is even on Bandcamp).

You want fans? It’s never been easier to make fans, but even that’s taken too literally. Simply LIKING or RT’ing a Tweet is garbage in 2021, so simple an unpaid intern could do it for you.

Send a video, make a quick clip, record a message, get people on your email list.

You hire a producer. Why? Because you don’t know how all the knobs work, and you don’t own any $1000 microphones.

Talk to people who know about this stuff. Get in touch with me (hi@sethw.com). Check out what Brianna is doing with Taste Creators. Follow @BigSto on Twitter. Sign up for my HEAVY METAL EMAIL list.

Adding more hashtags ain’t working.

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.

Keep Taking Shots

From @fortelabs:

My advice to almost every creator: you’re being way, WAY too strategic

Until you’re making a million dollars on the internet you’re in beta

Take all the time & energy you’re spending strategizing and iterate as fast as you possibly can

Every piece of content is a shot on goal

You can practice your jump shot everyday, but until you get into some pick up games every day, you’re missing out on valuable lessons.

That’s something I’m going to stress in my HEAVY METAL EMAIL community – make a plan, and send an email every week to your fans.

Ship something every month. Send that newsletter. If you want to write music, you don’t pick up your guitar once a month. You spend time with it everyday. You don’t get better at taking photographs by spending all your time on camera sites and forums – you’ve got to get out there and make some photos!

There’s a time for book learning, but there’s also a time for rolling up the sleeves and getting your hands dirty.

Giving Yourself a Chance

Found this from Twitter today, from @djboothEIC:

At random, I picked 10 artists who released a song last week, and I checked their Twitter accounts to see who promoted their release and how often.

• 4 of the 10 didn’t share at all
• Of the 6 who did share, 5 have posted only once

Why are you afraid to promote your work?

As someone who works with a lot of bands and creative individuals, I can say I see the same thing, week after week, year after year.

Most sad is when a band releases a music video. They’ll tweet about it once, maybe again a day later, then never again. As if it no longer exists.

You don’t need to post a link 18 times a day, but set a reminder to post about it every few days. Like, tell your phone to remind you, or set a recurring task in Google Calendar, to repeat every five or six days: post about video.

It’s not spammy when social media algorithms limit your reach anyhow! Each Tweet is probably only being seen by 20-30% of your followers – think of everyone else! And some people don’t check socials every day, either.

So post about your stuff often. Remind people about your work, your art, your magic. And if they’re tired of it? Oh well, this is your life. Don’t hold back. If you’re really cluttering up their “feed” that bad, they’ll unfollow.

Copy What Everyone Else is Doing for Your Own Website

Fuck the idea that “no one visits websites anymore.” People visit websites everyday – to buy records, read interviews and articles, watch videos (on YouTube, a website).

But you can’t just “have a website” and expect traffic.

That’s why all these sites are posting on socials everyday trying to get you to click to their website! It’s work, and it works. But those sites have something to sell. What about you? How do you “promote” without being “spammy?”

Copy what other sites do!

Halloween is coming up. You’re about to see a bunch of “JOE FROM CRAZY DEATHMETAL BAND LISTS HIS FAVE HORROR FILMS.”

Yeah. You can do that, too. A billion other sites already do. Replace “band” with whatever, and “horror film” and you have 7383 post ideas.

“But that’s so much extra work.”

Look, this is “content” you’re probably already posting on socials. Take what you’re uploading to social sites for “the likes,” and save some for your own website. Get people to your site with the stuff you’re already posting on socials.

Even if you just “riff” on stuff, current events, happenings, upcoming TV shows, whatever – make that your thing. Do your Twitter rants, then copy and paste them on your site. People can find that from search results (yes, people still search). More people, more fans.

Then at a certain point it’s math: drive X people to your site, maybe sell Y amount of things. You (thankfully) don’t have to sell ads. You might only need to get 20 people to your site to sell one record, or print, or zine.

All because just posting “buy my thing” gets old. And a million other bands are already doing just that.

Tell your story, post more photos, give behind the scenes looks on your own website. Don’t leave it up to random media outlets to do it for you and sell ads against.

You don’t need to plaster your site with BUY NOW links. But get enough people on the site, you’ll make a sale or two.

One on one coaching / teaching about email marketing / social media / website / strategy for creative types who don’t want to think all the time about all this stuff. One hour session, $100. Shoot me an email and let’s get started: hi@sethw.com

Talk Dirty To Me

Music fans get band names as tattoos.
Then bands / artists get on social media, and woo you with sexy lines like, “OUR DIGITAL ALBUMS ARE 50% OFF THIS WEEKEND.”

Come on. You’re not selling MP3 files. You’re not selling records. You’re selling the soundtrack to a generation.

People FUCK and make babies to albums. To music. They listen to your track at the gym for inspiration. It’s the soundtrack to summer. Winter. Music is fucking LIFE.

Is that too lofty? Too grand?

Some kids follow bands on tours. Night after night. Some adults do it, too.

So as a band, with all those drops of blood, sweats and tears, miles on the road, sleeping on floors, working horrible jobs to afford an amp, and you’re pick up line is, “BE SURE TO FOLLOW ON SPOTIFY.”

I know not all messaging can be poetic and grand. Sometimes you have to formally announce something. 100% I get it.

But come on! Coke commercials are just selling sugar water. Your music has the ability to capture hearts, and it’s a lot more interesting than a soft drink.

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.