SPOTIFY IS UNSTOPPABLE

From Variety:

“For the fourth quarter of 2023, (Spotify) reported revenue of €3.67 billion”

That’s $3,946,534,500 in US dollars. Oh, and they added “28 million total monthly active users overall, to reach 602 million.”

In one quarter.

And you’re still posting “check out my new song” on Twitter, or wasting your time publically shaming a company that made almost $4 BILLION in one quarter.

They’ve no shame, they’re rich. They do what they want.

The question is this: what’s our next move?

STOP LOOKING FOR FOLLOWERS AND GET SUBSCRIBERS

How will you get new followers if you’re not on social media?

Someone asked that recently.

They also said they reach about 10% of their followers on Instagram.

Think of the energy required to get 100 new followers on any social media platform. ONE HUNDRED. You need a hit, a nice mention, some serious work.

Then, when you send out your next big post to 100 new followers, just 10 of them will see it.

You now need 1,000 new followers to reach 100 of them.

What about 10 new email subscribers?

These might be people who follow you on Instagram but aren’t on the platform very often. You can DM folks who like a bunch of your posts and send them the link to subscribe.

If you sell stuff online, you can easily contact those people and ask them to subscribe to your newsletter (or add this as an opt-in during checkout).

You could probably email 10 people this week who love your work and send them the link to subscribe.

Heck, this is probably 50 people now if you do all three of those.

Maybe “just” half of those people click the link to sign up.

That’s still 25 people you can reach 100% of the time.

That’s more than twice the number of people you can reach if you get 100 new social media followers.

And it can be done in a few days, with a few emails.

Small effort, lasting results.

NOT EVERYONE IS BUILT TO BE A STAR IRL

“The music industry from an A+R and strategic marketing standpoint has been super lazy. They fell into a trap of using “data” to found who to sign without deeply considering that any person can make a song that pops off on TikTok but not everyone is built to be a star IRL, perform, build a real fan base and be an actual working artist.”

Zeena Koda

As Ari Herstand says below (embedded below at the six minute mark), there are artists out there with “gazillions” of Spotify streams but can’t sell 50 tickets to their hometown show.

Theo Katzman doesn’t have the streaming numbers, but he routinely sells out 1000-3000 cap rooms.

Theo is a star.

LESS POSTING, MORE MAKING COOL THINGS

Seth Godin recently posted ‘Two chicken jokes,’ which – pardon the pun – cracked something open for me.

“Conversations and interactions become more than rote performance precisely because we can create, seek out and relieve tension.

Instability into stability and back again.”

Forget clicks and viral hits; the foundation is conversations.

I’m part of Scott Perry’s ‘Creative on Purpose‘ group. On Mondays and Fridays, we have a 30-minute call with people from a range of professions, ages, and backgrounds.

A 30-minute Zoom call for work can usually be summed up as “this could have been an email,” while conversations with amazing people can break things open. They can change your life!

Conversations with friends led to Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, which helped sell thousands of albums.

I’ve been discussing starting a music gear flea market with a friend.

Another friend and I are having conversations about launching a zine.

Is there a guaranteed outcome? Will this new thing become my big break? NO ONE KNOWS, and that’s the wonderful dance between instability and stability.

Will this music gear flea market work? There’s a chance it might not go well!

Will we get this zine launched this year? MAYBE?!

At some point, we have to stop posting and start discussing.

COMPANIONSHIP CONTENT

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately with the “blogging thing.” Did you notice the new domain name? I’ve had sethw.com on and off since, like, 1999 or so because it went with my weird one-man-band act I did. But lately, as I’m now easing into my later 40s, I wanted something that reflected my new vibes, and sethwxyz really worked. Like, the alphabet goes wxyz, right? Seth W… xyz. Oh my god, I love it.

Anyway, since I’ve been writing or blogging so much, I’ve definitely felt different things pulling themselves together.

Like, I’m not spending multiple hours a day writing, but I do a lot of thinking and walking and taking voice notes on occasion, which I rarely revisit, but just doing them helps my brain put things together.

This brings me to this piece called ‘Companionship Content is King‘ by Anu Atluru.

“Companionship content is long-form content that can be consumed passively — allowing the consumer to be incompletely attentive, and providing a sense of relaxation, comfort, and community.”

After reading that whole piece, it was like, oh my god, no wonder I love those Noah Kalina videos, right? And he even mentioned in today’s video, near the end, how you could just have his video on in the background, you don’t even need to really watch it.

There were a few days where I’d find myself in haze after laying around and just scrolling through Instagram Reel after Instagram Reel. It was like when we were kids, and they used to say we watched 10 hours of TV a week or something, but now it’s like we consume 10 hours of video a day, but in 15 to 30-second increments, and it’s draining, as Anu says here:

“Consuming content requires attention, and everyone has an attention ceiling. This is the basis of my belief that short-form video has an upper limit. It’s not that short-form isn’t as good or as entertaining as long-form, it’s that it’s distracting and ultimately draining.

The mental energy consumed per minute of content consumed must be higher for short-form video than many types of content. I think of this as the “drain ratio” (as in energy drain) for a given piece of content or even a whole genre. (I doubt if anyone’s scientifically measured this, but I’d willingly commission a study on it).”

Maybe that’s why I like watching Craig Reynolds of Stray From The Path when he does his drum streams.

I don’t have to pay full attention, but it’s just fun to be “in the room” when he offers a sarcastic comment or self-deprecating humor.

Maybe I’m just getting old, or maybe it’s the after-effects of living through a pandemic, and things are just off, man. I’m not sure, but I just need the slow chill vibes these days.

HINDZ is another great example. A little softer than watching Craig on drums, but still… I guess it’s all about the person. I know what I’m getting from these folks, and there’s a peacefulness to that.

This is also similar to “body doubling,” or virtual co-working sessions that I’ve seen around. I haven’t really dabbled in those quite so much, but I know some people really like those.

TRADITIONAL MEDIA KILLED IT ALL

While out on a walk I thought of the last piece I quoted here, about the author wondering if editing a podcast or doing graphic design, that perhaps it is an “amateurization” of tasks that some people get paid lots of money to do.

For his part, David says he doesn’t begrudge my amateur podcasting, and points out that the medium started as a homegrown endeavor before traditional media got into the game.”

Sara Eckel from The Amateurization of Everything

THAT’S RIGHT.

I couldn’t write for MTV.com, but I could set up PHP-Nuke and try to set up a music based Plastic.com (I’m really showing my age here). Thankfully tools like Blogger, Movable Type, and WordPress came along.

That’s when we started HXC.com, Absolute Punk, Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Idolater.

The medium (music blogging) “started as a homegrown endeavor before traditional media got into the game.”

AOL Music re-launched Spinner.com in 2008, pulling it out of the clunky CMS and moving it to something even more horrible, from what I can remember (I started Noisecreep for AOL Music in 2008).

I’m sure other corporations co-opted the music blog world, but I can’t think of any right now.

There was an ocean of music blogs out there, a vast ecosystem of writers and interests and genres covered, sometimes catering to certain cities or regions.

Point being – these things WORKED. If they didn’t, corporate nerds with all their “forward-thinking ideas” (HAHA) wouldn’t have swooped in, co-opted the whole market with big budgets, and siphoned off exclusive interviews and video premieres from the little guys…

Holy shit, as I write that… damn, we destroyed it all, didn’t we? Damn.

Then it became too expensive to keep the house of cards upright, so they shut it all down and sold to Yahoo or Verion or whatever and made their yearly bonuses.

In the end we’re led to believe that music blogs (or blogs for anything) just can’t work anymore. The internet has moved on. And I think that’s bullshit.

Corporate interests moved on (hello, Conde Nast) and left us with… AI generated Spotify playlists, huh?

Re-start your blog. Go to a show. Buy a zine. Make stickers. Invite some friends over for dinner and put your phones in a basket – corporate interests ain’t welcomed at the dinner table.

Don’t rely on digital records.

My advice is to download your Instagram feed now! Print it out in a book (there are online services that will do this for you). Write your memoir and self-publish it; print out photos of your art, bind the pages yourself and hand copies to all your best friends and family; share your work! And share it widely and generously.

Jacqueline Calladine at Private View

“If not Pitchfork, with more daily visitors than Vogue or Vanity Fair or the New Yorker – or GQ – then who in music journalism can possibly thrive in this economic environment. And if no one can… then all we’ll have left are streaming platforms, their algorithms, and the atomized consumer behavior they push on us. A self-checkout counter for music, with a scanner going beep – beep – beep –”

Damon Krukowski