You Don’t Need Millions

There’s already enough loud mouth podcaster and personalities. We need more people who are their authentic selves.

There’s plenty of room for quiet. Shy. Reserved. Goofy.

Will it attract millions of fans this week? Maybe not. But you don’t need millions.

Via @BigSto

But don’t think you’re going to get 2,000 fans until you get 200, or until you get 20.

Learn how to reach and be real with 10 people, 20 people.

You don’t have to be a mega star to DM a fan and send them free stickers. Or leave them tickets to your next show.

Do that shit now.

Do the shit that doesn’t scale. Do the shit that the big artists can’t. Connect and build your audience. Fuck “recommended if you like…” stickers and curated playlists.

Find you 10, your 20, and build from there.

Produce on Socials, Archive and Elaborate on Your Site

“Nobody uses websites anymore,” says everybody who reads news, interviews, and reviews on websites. And buy tickets on websites. Watch videos on websites. Buy albums on websites.

Give people a reason to go to your website.

No one goes to your site?

Probably because there’s nothing on it but music player embeds and old tour dates. Thrilling stuff!

As a photographer, artist, musician, producer – you could be filling your site with thoughts, ideas, behind the scenes, stories (you have so many stories).

Tease all this on socials, then include a link to read the full thing (just like every media outlet does).

Here I wrote about the band that changed my life. I could have just wrote a quick tweet about that, or an IG story… then it’d be gone in 12 seconds. But it’s on my site, waiting to be read. Like a book to be checked out at the library.

No, it’s not going to get 10,000 views. But maybe someone who shares the same story will email me about it. That’d be cool.

I’ve gone back through some of my “twitter rants” and turned them into blog posts. Like this one: Most People Haven’t Heard Your Album. I even took some time and made a video to go with it. And elaborated on some of the things I Tweeted.

We’ve all got YEARS of things we said that could easily be turned into blog posts.

Top albums. Fave shows. Funny stories. Wild adventures.

Stop giving all of that to social media, and building value for mega corps. Put it on your own site and link to it, over and over.

Use social media as the billboard, and get people to your site.

Use the Press You Get

Via @BigSto

This over and over again, “use the Press you ARE getting.”

Don’t just say you got a review somewhere – use the words that the outlet used to describe your music.

If a major media outlet said your album was an album of the year contender, say that. Scream that, post it, screen shot it, put it in your bio.

We’re On Our Own

Via @laurieallee

This is what I feel.

We’re approaching 30,000 COVID deaths here in Pennsylvania, over the course of 17 months. That’s like 1,750 per month. So, approaching a 9/11 death-toll every single month for over a year.

No memorials. No healing. No moments of silence. Nothing.

Sure, the IRS keeps knocking. Local hospital network keeps emailing me for donations. Remember when car insurance companies gave us automated discounts those first two months? HAH.

Through all of this I am reminded of one thing, very soundly; we’re on our own.

Your Music Is More Than a Stream

Tweet via @iamcartermoore

I get the above sentiment for bigger, more established acts. Hell, I see and work a lot of the press releases involved (see, Close Mondays), but I don’t play an active part in how that system works. A bit above my pay grade, actually!

But my guiding principle over the last 20+ years as been, “I just wanna help bands sell albums,” and really my heart is for the artists who are still honing their craft, while trying to pretend to be a social media and online marketing expert at the same time. It’s a tough gig.

That said, it’s better to make a weekly podcast than a monthly one.
As a photographer, it’s better to post a photo once a day, than once a week.

Not so much for the “oh, look at me” factor. But the feedback loop. Putting something out there more often just means more rolls of the dice. You just never know who might see or hear or listen or consume your art, but if you don’t put it out there, you’re taking yourself out of the game.

That’s not to say you should be feeding the social media machines at every moment.

Buy a domain name and post your photos from a recent trip.
Start a micro-niche podcast about a subject matter you care about and upload twice a week.

And again – I know a lot of musicians in the game aren’t ready to just start posting new songs every day or week, but there’s just so many ways to get your music into the world without resorting to a Spotify link.

Experiment with video software and start uploading them with your music to YouTube.
Make pretend commercials.
Make fake scenes from a movie with your friends and use your music as the back drop.
Work with people who make fun animations or videos, and let them use your music.

Keep putting up shots, and get away from the decades old convention that music only comes on albums, and that soundtracks and commercials are only for big artists on labels.

Make your music more than a stream, and build it into a bigger project.

Head To The Hills

I used to hate getting my feet wet when running. Now, for this photo, I was standing completely still in this creek, getting soaked, and loving every second of it.

With the pandemic still raging, and idiocy everywhere, I’m withdrawn a bunch from the idea of heading to cities, or being around a bunch of people. It’s just not for me yet.

I got emails from the Broad Street Race in Philadelphia, the biggest 10 mile race in the US, and how they’re making their big return this year! The Philly 10K, the super slick, well organized race through the streets of mid and lower Philadelphia.

Then the 7 day average of new COVID cases just keeps going up here in PA:
500 on July 24th
1,000 on August 3rd (10 days)
2,000 on August 15th (12 days)

So I ordered a closeout bag from Ultimate Direction from REI and started getting ideas to head into the mountains, away from people.

They’ll be a time for densely packed 10Ks again in the future, but for me, right now? Not yet. Do what you wanna do, but for me, I’m looking at some tents and water filtration systems, and looking to disappear into the woods a bit.

Before Giving Yourself Over to Your Job

From an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Digital Director Nikki Ogunnaike:

“My friend Joe Holder is very much of the school where he believes there are all sorts of products that people are buying and reaching and searching for to do their wellness practices, but there are things like stillness, meditation, religion, fresh air, and vitamin D. And I don’t knock anyone — do whatever you need to do to center yourself. But in my own life, making sure that I do something for myself in the morning before I have to give myself over to my job.”

‘Nikki Ogunnaike Wants You to Unfollow Anyone Who Doesn’t Bring You Joy, at The Cut

Even with my years of talking about productivity and using all the cool tools, my morning routine doesn’t exist. Some mornings I just stumble through, other mornings I rush to complete a task that I put off from the previous workday.

The idea though, of “making sure I do something for myself in the morning before I have to give myself over to my job.” The idea that we really do give ourselves over to our jobs, even when working remotely. That’s a real thing. A different headspace.

Online Music Marketing Beeps and Boops

Some bits and boops from pieces I’ve posted over on my Ko-Fi page:

But if you want new people to hear your music, push your music. Not everyone who visits your social media profile is a fan just yet.

Embed the audio right onto social media. Upload a 10-15 second clip. Often. Then, include a link to hear the full song, preferably where they can also purchase it.

Audio First

I made a video describing how to gift someone an album on Bandcamp:

Wrote a bit about hyping your music beyond a commodity item,

You’re not selling MP3s, just like not you’re not selling eggs in the dairy aisle. No one remembers a carton of eggs, but people get lyrics and band logos tattooed on their bodies. 

Honor Your Music

Then wrote a bit about the “pre-release” stage of putting out music, or a fundraiser, and the importance of gathering emails,

Just like handing out flyers to shows back in the day, you should be getting an email address.

Announce your thing, and include a “call to action.” Give people who really care about your thing a link to click, and ask for an email address.

Get Some Emails

I’ve been involved in this “online music” thing for 20 years now, and if you count all the years of playing in bands, traveling to shows, and hanging out with musicians, make it 30 years. But I’ll say this – anyone who says they have THE answer is still full of shit.

Things move at the speed of light, but I know two things:

Write good songs.
Have fans.

I know, sounds stupid simple, but it’s all that fucking matters.

Don’t get me wrong, a “good song” doesn’t mean just something that’s performed at halftime at the Super Bowl. If you like it, that’s a good song.

And if a few other people like it, well, I 1000% believe a few more people would like it, too. It’s a matter of getting it out there, which is where so much of the struggle is these days.

Just posting “NEW SONG” on Twitter once, on a Tuesday at 2:38pm doesn’t cut it (unless you’re Radiohead).

Can’t Lose if You Don’t Play the Game

From Spotify’s editorial and algorithmic playlists:

“In some cases, commercial considerations may influence our recommendations.”

So how do you compete with payola? Don’t play the game.

Link to your own Bandcamp. Share your own playlists. Work with other artists to create compelling art that your fans will devour.

Right now Spotify is for the masses. Easy to consume. It’s a never ending buffet, and while your music is on the menu, you’ll never make enough to buy groceries for the week.

(h/t @cheriehu42)