Asking Questions is Art

So simple, yet so right:

In an expert-run industrialized economy, there’s a lot of pressure to be the one who’s sure, the person with all the answers.

Far more valuable is someone who has all the questions. The ability to figure out what hasn’t been figured out and see what hasn’t been seen is a significant advantage.

Seth Godin

I know this only because I’ve been on the planet for 45 years, been in a couple of conference rooms, with smart people who kept me on my toes.

Yes, having an answer is fun. Makes you look good. Sure.

But when you ask a question that no one thought to ask, that brings the meeting to a halt, that sets fire to the agenda – that’s way more fun.

Getting there, though, is the long road. The journey. The million mistakes, the trials and errors, the blood, sweat, and tears.

The gold isn’t found in offering up the answers. It’s asking your friend the right question when they’re going through a hard time. The one thing that pulls them up, because the answer was inside them the whole time.

Use Your Face and Your Voice

ABOVE: the TLDR version of the text below

I’ve been following Loom for awhile, and using their super easy video making software for my Close Mondays operation for awhile now. I didn’t even realize it, but I made 36 videos with their software, dating back to November 2019.

For business, it’s sometimes nice to send a video to someone you work with instead of just a plain text email, especially when you want to show a workflow process.

I’ve also used this for not-business, too. Like this:

I made that video for Metal Bandcamp Gift Club. I link to it from newsletters that we send out, and also put on social media every now and again, too.

The point is this: All text looks like… text. But FACES. VOICES. SMILES. That’s the stuff, right there. Bands could use something like Loom to announce new songs, or shirts, or tours with images of the very things they’re working so hard to promote.

Like, love them or hate them, reaction videos work because they’ve ALWAYS worked. Ask any older music nerd, and they will fondly remember the MTV NEWS breaks… zip zap, here’s Kurt Loder talking about something. Outro music. Done. PEOPLE. VOICES. FACES.

So with the stuff Loom lets you do, you can do just a bit more than point the camera at yourself and upload it.

Add album artwork. Or merchandise photos. Tour dates. Tons of stuff. And the “big scary” part – YOUR FACE. But people like your face, they like YOU.

Again, text is great. Add an image to a Tweet. Cool. But they put faces on billboards and magazine ads and pre-roll videos. Imagine if the was just all text? BORING.

Anyways, go check out Loom.

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.xyz

Your Live Show Can Keep Making You Money Long After You Leave Town

A live show is the culmination of years of practice, grind, networking, and connecting with fans. It’s… a big deal. Now imagine posting photos from every show on your website. Photos of playing, with fans, load in, sound check. Then post the link on all your socials.

Remember – your website can have links to… your store. Where you have things for sale.

Imagine driving 1000+ people to your site every night, and then selling a few shirts. Or a record or two?

You do realize all the websites that cover shows are making money off you, right? They get on social media, “hey, check out our photos of so and so from last nights show in NYC!” They drive traffic to their website where they have banner ads, and prominent links to their Patreon site.

That could be you. You could be getting those eyeballs, turning casual listeners into rabid fans. Rabid fans buy merch.

The “content” you’re making sits on your socials. Yes, it looks pretty, but it could be working for you long after you leave the 3rd stop on your tour. Sell $100 per night through your website over 20 nights, thats $2000. Instead of just getting 2000 likes.

And here’s the thing – you don’t even have to do this yourself.

Since you’ll still be posting your thoughts and photos and all that to socials, you could have someone build those posts every night, without a lot of input. Let them curate the band’s photos, and maybe some social media posts from those in attendance.

Post the link on socials the next day, and drive a few hundred people to your site.

Hire someone (like me) to manage and build that. Make some money. Or, fuck, take this idea and do it yourself!

Just stop shoveling all of your life work onto social media for the likes, and the engagement, thinking the algorithm will magically make you go viral and somehow you’ll sell a shirt.

Note: this post started off as an off the cuff Twitter rant (here), which I then copied and pasted into WordPress. This post can now be updated, linked to, and read for years to come. Turn your social media posts into evergreen bits of magic on your own site!

We Got The Moves

Summer is winding down, but this has become my summer anthem.

Usually I’m not a fan of the “harsh vocals” switching the “clean vocals” and all that stuff that “the kids” seem to like so much, but this just works for me. I mean, the visuals do it, too. Such attention to vibe and style and wit and sass. I love it so much.

You Can Hit 399

Via @tankcrimes

Post your Bandcamp link maybe more than once during the lead up to the release of your album. Selling 400 is possible!

But what do a lot of bands post?

“Spotify rates are awful,” and also, “listen to our new single on Spotify.”

Neither message will help you sell a fucking album.

I absolutely don’t believe in “no one buys albums” anymore. People are buying albums. They just ain’t buying your album.

1. Don’t ask, don’t get. If you don’t include a link and make it stupid simple to order, you’re not gonna make the sale.

2. Don’t treat it like a commodity. You’re not just selling MP3 files and vinyl records.

3. Supply / demand. There’s a lot of copy cat, generic bands out there. What are YOU doing to set yourself apart?

4. Are you “engaging” your fans? You’re not Radiohead. Take a minute and reply to some of the people who already buy your music and come to your shows. Unpaid interns can hit the Retweet button, which makes it worthless. Take a minute and reply and make someone’s day.

Just my thoughts, as no one has all the answers, or else they’d be a zillionaire. But give yourself a chance: make it as easy as possible for fans to support you.

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.