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).

Build When You Can

Love this message from Rebekka Dunlap:

Not every post will be a hit. Not every song is a hit. Until it is.

That’s why I try to put up three LATER episodes per week. If I just put up one a week, I’d have less feedback, less interaction, less momentum. Is each episode a hit? Not at all. That’s not the point. The point is to ship, even when it’s not perfect.

My blog posts aren’t perfect, nor research for hours. They’re published quick, just to keep things moving. Perfection is the enemy of done, so I’m okay if everything isn’t gold.

Websites Should Sell Stuff

We’ve seen sites we love sell.. shirts, sure. But I mean, there’s sooo much to be sold out there.

Apparently New York Magazine opened a shop, which seems odd, right? A music site could sell music (like Bandcamp’s store in Oakland, CA), but what’s a magazine sell?

In the beginning of 2018 I envisioned opening a shop for Skull Toaster based around classic metal magazines, like a museum of sorts, which then of course would have merch to buy to keep the lights on.

And heck, existing store can do it backwards! They already have the store, now start a site! I think of the countless record shops and music equipment stores and metal-themed restaurants that could use their brand to pull in artist and bands and designers, interview them, then put all those assets on the website for people to see for years to come (rather than disappear in the river of social media posts that are gone in 3.2 minutes).

Do websites still matter? That’s pretty much where you buy tickets, and do your banking, and emailing.. yeah, websites still matter. Make sure you got one in 2019!

Podcasts and Blog Posts

I wish more podcasts had blogs, and vice versa.

It doesn’t have to be a site with 14 updates a day, but it’d so nice to read some of the highlights of an episode before diving in.

I’m thinking beyond “show notes,” too. Podcasts are hidden and out of sight. It’s hard to stumble into an episode, whereas social media makes it easy to randomly find interesting ideas, or stories.

It would make sense, too, for weekly shows to post daily, because that just builds the brand. What news items do you cover? Maybe reviews, or instructional posts? Blogs get sticky, and when you have repeat visitors, whammo, you have a new episode up, and people click play (especially people who aren’t quite into podcasts, yet, and that’s a lot of people).

And how many quotable items are inside a podcast? The stories and insider information are just tucked away in an audio file, and maybe the episode gets one post of like, “hey, here’s our new episode.”

Pull out two items, that’s two more posts, that’s two more items to post to socials, and include in your email newsletter. One podcast could practically get you five posts that you can spread out over 2-3 weeks.