I got lost recently, digging through the Subtle Maneuvers newsletter archive. This quote struck me.

“As an artist and freelancer, there’s a lot of ways you can feel guilty on a daily basis. Guilty for not having enough free time, guilty for having too much, guilty for loving your job, guilty for not loving it. I’m trying to eliminate as much of that guilt as possible, because it’s totally useless. Since quarantine, I regularly sleep until 10. I have dessert every single day. I exercise when I feel like it. I relish my free time when I have it, relish my work when I love it. I ask for an extension if I’m just too sad to meet my deadline. I don’t care anymore. I’m done with guilt. Life is too short.”

Hallie Bateman


Photo by Kris Møklebust from Pexels

TikTok hit one billion users globally in September, while Facebook still as almost three billion.

Yet here we are, in 2021, and there are fans of your band who still don’t know about your latest release, tour, or merch drop.

Imagine if you had the email address of everyone that bought a ticket to see you play over the last five years. You could then email them the next time you’re coming to town.

Guess who has that email?

The website they bought the ticket from.

Not you.

Imagine if you had the email address of everyone that streamed your song on Spotify or Apple Music.

Guess who has that data?

Not you.

Sites like Spotify, Ticketmaster, Amazon – they have SO MUCH FUCKING DATA, and they make so much money from knowing who buys what at every hour of the day.

Meanwhile, you put out three albums, went on seven US tours, and you can’t email a single person who paid you money for the honor.

You don’t need to be on TikTok. Your friend of 10 years who supports you and loves you, but doesn’t go to shows much anymore doesn’t even know about your new album. You think being on TikTok is gonna help?

You need data. You need an email address. You need to know who bought your fucking EP last week, and three years ago.

That information is so important, there’s no way that Spotify, and Facebook, and Ticketmaster will share it to you. It’s valuable data, and they make money on the back of your hard work.

They hold the power, you don’t.

Start an email list.


These six songs from Knocked Loose pack more menace and grit than some bands entire discographies. A monster step forward for the genre.

The band also made a video to accompany the entire release, too. Amazing.

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.


So I set up my new HEAVY METAL EMAIL project using Circle, which builds amazingly robust and feature-packed community software. That was a few days ago.

Then about a week later, after some real-time use of administering a community site… I realized that I went the wrong route. I’ve got no experience running community sites, but I sure know how to run email campaigns and newsletters.

So over the weekend I decided to move things to Substack, for a few reasons.

  • The people I’m trying to reach (metal folks) aren’t very familiar with “community sites,” but they know what newsletters are.
  • If I’m going to promote how awesome email newsletters are, I should probably be running one in real time.
  • Circle has a hefty monthly fee which is very worth it if you’re into the idea of running a community site, which I quickly learned that I wasn’t.

Move fast, break things, huh?

I felt it was better to suffer the “embarrassment” of a quick course correct than trying to learn on-the-go and navigate the world of being the admin of a community site.

Sign up for HEAVY METAL EMAIL here:

Just Be Better

Been thinking a lot about this press conference statement by Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles:

“If you’re fixing free throws, if you’re getting better as a player, none of this is happening. So everybody can bitch and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you.” ESPN

Just play better, man.

A friend and I have a mantra we share, very simply, “just be cool.”

My mind is heading towards “just be better each day.”

I’m not talking about some quantifiable metric, some hustle, some “get 1% smarter everyday” grind. Better goes great with sports, or sales, but in life it’s different.

Just appreciate, be grateful, be present, be mindful. I know, magical hippy dippy new age bullshit, but whatever, I have to live inside this brain for the rest of my life, so I’m going to use what I use.

Just be better. Just experience better? Just be?

Running to Stay Right Here

Tonight’s run was interrupted by a phone call from a dear friend. I was already out and about when I got the call, which I expected, and it was a good chat.

After about an hour on the phone, I got up and set off. I felt awful at first, since I had been sitting, but each mile was faster than the previous mile. I ran some unfamiliar streets, and it got dark, so I got to experience the first bit of running by street lights. I’m looking forward to more of that.

As I neared the end of my run ‘Here to Stay’ by Korn was playing, and that bridge part at the end got me stoked.

That final “GONNA BREAK IT” got me again. That got me running a little faster. Then ease it back, running down a hill, knowing another incline is coming.

I bolt up the first incline and have to rest at the next intersection. Heart screaming. I’m not out of breath, my legs aren’t shot, it’s just that my engine is at max RPMs and there’s no way to keep that effort.

Heart rate drops a bit, then I attack the next hill, because why not? I flame out 2/3rds of the way to the top, which is fine. I laugh to myself a bit. Grate at 45 to be doing this at all.

Finally reach the top and I see it. The big red mood, coming up over the horizon to the east. By this time it’s pretty dark. I dart down a side street with a lone street light. I see the moon. Just 12 or so hours earlier I watched the sun rise over that hill in the distance, from the same grave yard.

Something clicks, and I peel off another few quick bursts. Feels good, feels solid, and I keep it under control. Now I’m darting through the darkness. Now this is dangerous.

I round a corner towards my place, a nice 2.5% grade and just punch it. I cruise past a small crowd, a blur to my right. I just look up the hill, grateful I’m not running the entire thing.

I hit my parking lot and tap out.

There’s something about hitting your max. Hitting the limit.

Yeah, we hit limits with emails, with work, with bills, taxes… ahh, just gotta walk away!

But a physical limit. A point where there’s just nothing left. Where you taste the effort in your mouth.

Been talking a lot about mortality lately, with a lot of different people. And fuck, tomorrow ain’t a promise.

I ain’t got much, but I know tonights run was special, and that’ll stay with me.

Heavy Metal Email

About a year ago I messed around with Circle for Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, but it was a bit much for what I needed. I’ve since moved the community side of that lovely group of people into Discord, where we have a nice 16 people hanging out throughout the day. It’s chill, and it sure beats hanging out on Twitter all day.

I’ve since started using Circle again, but now for something brand new: HEAVY METAL EMAIL.

UPDATE: As of 10/24/2021 I decided to move HEAVY METAL EMAIL over to Substack:

It’s a community for heavy metal folks to learn how to use email newsletters to break free from the social media rat race.

Very niche, I know. By design.

It’s for people in the loud but lovable metal music community – the musicians, the artists, the designers, the photographers, the producers, the makers, the story tellers, and everyone else who loves the power of the riff.

We’re gonna use social media to drive fans to your email list.

And we’re gonna make your email newsletter great, too. It won’t be for “updates.” Our lives are too varied and rich to sell as “content.”

We’re gonna figure out ways to take everything we’ve been shoveling into the social media empires, and re-purpose it for our newsletters.

No more fighting algorithms. No more figuring out what the social media networks want this week. Nah. Fans first. Art first.

Food Courts Aren’t Where You Sleep

It feels like our stories are like handbills, lying all over the floor after a show.

We post random photos on Instagram, tell stories on Twitter, post “behind the scenes” looks on IG Stories, post a little on Facebook, dabble on TikTok and / or Snapchat.

We’re absolutely stuffing our handbills (or flyers, whatever you want to call them) into the hands of anyone walking by, and then heading to the next corner to repeat the process.

And along the way, we look back and maybe we picked up a follower or two, had some fun interactions. But when we come back to our home base, our website, there’s cobwebs and no one to welcome you.

It feels productive to be on the social media treadmill all day, and when we’re not it’s easy to feel like we’re being lazy. But those are lies.

Social media is where you hand out flyers, but at a certain point you gotta head back to the venue and play a show.

From Stop Handing Out Flyers

Bolster your website everyday. It’s all you got.

Make your music, put it on the website.

Make your videos, put it on your website.

Make your art, your poems, your photos, you wares – put it on your website.

Your website is your home.

Social media is the food court.