- Any time you need to promote something, send an @ to everyone you’re following. It’s best if you send it to three or more names at a time so they know it’s a personal message.
- Bitch at people who unfollow you. That’ll guilt-trip them into following you again, and this time they’ll think twice about leaving.
- Only RT messages that say something cool about yourself. I mean, the people already following you probably have no idea just how awesome you are.
- Pay for a bunch of follow-bots. Nothing says “this guy’s obviously somebody” like a huge follower list full of names like “@Jenny039847″.
- Constantly beg for people to RT your self-promoting tweets. Charities and causes can fend for themselves, but your new self-made hip-hop video on YouTube totally needs to go viral, like, now.
- Bitch about people you know, but keep it just vague enough that only they (and everyone else) know you’re bitching about them.
- Use symbols and ASCII art to draw attention to your tweets. Why waste 140 characters with actual content when “★ⓕⓞⓛⓛⓞⓦ AND GAIN★═INTRODUCING╬►” doubles the readability? (And triples the awesome!)
- Change your twitter icon to support a cause. ‘Cause, you know, that totally helps feed those hungry orphans. (Protip: If your icon is still green, Iranian dissidents can totally feel your support.)
- That little book full of inspirational quotes your boss has had on his desk since the 80′s? Content gold mine.
- Read the latest “How to Get and Keep Twitter Followers” list from some social media douchebag and follow every item to the letter. If everyone does it at the same time, nobody will ever know you’re following a system instead of actually talking to people.
The following is a response I sent to a reporter from Billboard asking for comments on the future of the music industry. Don’t know if they’ll quote any of it, but here’s a slightly modified version of what I said.
I’m a full-time piano rocker (meaning I don’t play cover gigs, don’t have a day job, and don’t make my money selling books to beginning musicians). I’ve been quoted by Rolling Stone about services like Pandora before and I’ve been named an “Artist on the Verge” by the NMS. So when I talk about the music industry, it’s definitely from the lower rungs but at least I’ve got all four limbs on the fucking ladder.
As an artist growing up in the 90′s, the dream was to be picked up by a major label and “made famous”. It was the dream we were sold by the music machine of the 70′s and 80′s– that some Guy In A Suit™ would notice you at a seedy open-mic, hand you a contract, and you’d be opening for Billy Joel on a 120-date tour within the next two months. Maybe that happened in the past, but not any more. Not unless you’re Taylor Swift.
In my opinion, the labels will need to break up into small, cooperative niche organizations. Professional-grade album creation has become so accessible to guys like me that I have zero incentive to sign my rights away just to get a disc made. Shit, there’s barely any incentive left to have discs made at all. The only reason I have CD’s pressed is because, to date, no one has come up with a better music container that can be sold and autographed at live events. What am I going to do, sign an iPhone after a show?
(Wait, I’ve actually done that before… but it’s not what I’d call commonplace.)
How Are Artists Going To Make Money From Their Fans?
The same way any business makes money: by giving them what they need. Music is a performance art; it is theater. Even electronic, mashup, dubcrap, glitch core… all that stuff that’s just made with laptops instead of instruments still comes back to the same concept: Music transports a listener/viewer somewhere else for a short period of time. It’s escapism, just like movies or a good novel. Maybe you want to feel sexy… well, that club song is your aural lingerie. Maybe you want to feel important… that socially-activist protest song by that lesbian guitarist makes you feel like you’re changing something (and maybe, just maybe, it’ll inspire you to DO SO).
I’m a professional artist; I get paid to make the fans part of something bigger than their normal daily lives. The music alone cannot do that. It has to be a coordinated attack from all sides– the clothing, the videos, the way you communicate (do I start my emails with “Dear Friend” or “Valued Minion” or “Fellow Revolutionary”?)… This is how I make money from my fans. It’s how artists always made money from their fans. The big-haired glam rockers of the 80′s created an escapist world of partying, sex, and recklessness without consequence. It was a fiction, but in that respect the business hasn’t changed at all.
It’s just gotten harder for major corporations to own it.
Which Music Companies Will Change The Industry?
Simple: The businesses that make it easier for the artists to create their worlds. If you’ve got ten minutes, watch this session I gave at the State of Now Conference in NYC last year (I’ve posted this on this blog before, but here it is again):
If you don’t have ten minutes, I’ll sum it up: Any business that saves me time and makes it easier for me to change the lives of my fans. CD Baby puts me in all the legitimate digital streaming sites except Pandora, all the major marketplaces, and even handles synch licensing now. That’s time I can spend working on tunes instead of paperwork. Hootsuite lets me update every one of my social profiles at the same time, rather than spending half an hour just re-posting the same new concert video. Artistdata (run by the oh-so-useless Sonicbids) puts my upcoming concert dates on local calendars so I don’t have to waste time visiting every local entertainment rag’s site. Ziibra, still in development, looks like a promising way to help turn casual fans into paying subscribers just like my own Matthew Ebel dot net
The business that will succeed in the new Music Industry are the ones that facilitate the artist’s relationship with their fans. It will require them to focus less on plastering their name and their brand on everything and more on acting behind-the-scenes. It’s a difficult thing to do in an industry that is notorious for its colossal egos, but the businesses that let the artist shine without making them look like a NASCAR driver (covered in logos) will be the ones that attract real, working musicians like myself.
So I, like a lot of you, got an email from Tim Westergren- founder and CEO of Pandora Radio. They’re asking ordinary listeners like you, me, and my mother to write our congress critters about the Internet Radio Fairness Act (H.R. 6480 and S. 3609). Essentially, they want internet radio stations to pay the same royalty rates as any other radio station, not the ridiculously higher rate they’re paying right now.
And here I am in the middle. Sure, high rates ostensibly mean better payments to guys like me, right? At the same time, if Pandora couldn’t afford to stay in business, I wouldn’t be getting new fans every single week from Pandora stations. It’s a rock and a hard place, but I always prefer to err on the side of rock. Tim and Pandora have built up a level of trust and equity with independent musicians where scum like Spotify and Grooveshark have exploited us.
The best response, however, couldn’t come from me. It had to come from my mother. So here’s what my mom wrote to her representatives:
Dear [Representative name],
Please vote YES on the Internet radio issue, the Internet Radio Fairness Act. My son is one of the tens of thousands of promising artists who would otherwise never be heard. Radio stations are all so preprogrammed that an independant artist can never break through to share his or her gifts with potential fans. The disparity between royalty payments required may mean that Internet stations, like Pandora, will be punished for being innovative and the only music we will be fed will be labeled artists who can afford to pay their way on to the radio.
Please support the Internet Radio Fairness Act. Don’t close the door on the only far-reaching venue that my son, and so many other independant artists turn to to share their music with the world! Thank you for your consideration.
So yeah… I may lose my rock credentials for this, but I don’t care: Listen to my mother.
Earlier this week I was interviewed by David Newhoff from The Illusion of More about copyrights, file sharing, intellectual property, and the broader ramifications of being a dick. As David said:
Matthew’s strategy for forging a career in the age of file-sharing, torrents, and remixes is to do all he can to introduce his listeners to the man and the work behind the music. Critical of both the traditional music industry and thoughtless file sharers, Matthew’s song The Last Pirate is what caught my attention and led me to ask him for this interview.
Now you can hear this interview in all its glory, rambling, and terrible jokes over at The Illusion of More
And of course you can hear The Last Pirate right here at Matthew Ebel dot com.
This statement is for independent musicians, by an independent musician: Get away- far, far away -from the Music Business.
I’m not telling you to give up music or stop trying to earn your living in this space. Far from it, there is so much opportunity here that the biggest challenge is deciding which path you want to stick to. What I am saying- to any musician who will listen -is that the Music Business as a big, flashy industry is the most dangerous, distracting time-waster that will ruin your career. There are really only two things that ultimately kill a musician’s career: Time, and the musicians themselves.
Time is everything to an entrepreneur, and there are so many ways to piss away the time you’ve got. So many of us are doing this with stars in our eyes and dreams of sold-out arenas that we’ll do anything to get an edge on the competition.
Remember: Your only competitors as a musician are yourself and the clock.
Today I encountered yet another self-proclaimed Music Marketing Master who is very obviously earning his living selling eBooks to guys like me. Sure, maybe he’s a genius and a visionary, but the odds are pretty stiffly against him. Anyone who’s selling shovels to gold miners like us should immediately be suspect. We’re an industry of artists, not particularly known for our business sense. There are plenty of people who will happily take advantage of that and even leave you thanking them for wasting your time.
My advice: Always be suspicious of music industry experts you’ve never heard of. Hell, even if you’ve heard of them, the Business changes so fast that they may be peddling stale advice anyway.
Waste 10 Minutes With Me
Before I get too much further into it, I want you to watch this 10-minute piece I did on stage in NYC about musicians and time, this will give you some context for where I’m going with this:
Watch on UStream’s site if you can’t see it here.
Did you catch the bit about how “every ten minutes another indie music site is born”? That’s what I’m talking about. Social networking sites are wonderful things, but the second it’s a “music discovery site” or some tripe like that, be suspicious. You’re going to find so many more people on a general interest site like Facebook than you ever will on some music-centric site no one’s ever heard of. Marketing advice is great, but music marketing? Be suspicious. Good advice about selling cookies will usually be good advice about selling downloads, even if the data doesn’t smell nearly as amazing.
The Dirty Little Secret
Are all Music Business resources lame? Of course not. Not all guitar teachers are failed rock stars either… but you know a shitload of them are. You want to know the dirty little secret of the modern Music Business? Most “experts” don’t know shit, they’re just circulating innovation and case studies pioneered by actual musicians. Spend your time looking for ways to reach your fans using methods that work with your vibe. YOU are the expert.
Again, I’m not saying ignore advice from non-musicians. Just get an idea of what snake oil smells like before you go looking for career remedies. You can waste more time looking for the fast track than you it would actually take just building your own damn road to success.
Oh Yeah, That Other Thing
Remember 82 paragraphs ago when I said that your other big competitor is yourself? I meant it. If your music isn’t selling, it may just be that it isn’t good enough yet. Work on it. Nothing is impossible, some things just take more work than others.
Your voice isn’t good enough. Get a better front man to sing your songs or go take some voice lessons.
Your playing isn’t good enough. Go take some lessons or at least jam with people who are better than you.
Your website sucks. Hire a designer or learn some design basics on your own.
You don’t know anyone in the industry. Who gives a shit? Go meet people who aren’t in the industry but are into the kind of stuff you do- musical or otherwise. If you’re able to connect with non-musical people and keep them interested, I’ve got news for you: The Music Business experts will be looking for you.
Just don’t try to sell me any eBooks when that happens, okay? I’ve got songs to write for my Entourage.
Photo by Paul’s Best Shots, licensed under Creative Commons
You are not a machine.
Your natural genetic design does not tolerate 2-4 hours of travel per day,
8-12 hours of slave labor 5-6 days per week for whatever monetary compensation on 5-6 hours of sleep in a system built on penalistic principle and a life under judgmental surveillance.
Like it or not, you are human.
Stress, harassment, constant financial worries, fear, and a sense of inadequacy destroys the health of any human.
This is a scientific fact.
So why is it we accept and tolerate a system that in actual reality demands that you erase your needs and, in effect, commit a slow, joyless suicide for someone else’s profit?
You have a choice.
Stop pretending you don’t.
Quoted from an internet meme the source of which I can’t track down… but God, did it feel right for a Tuesday morning. This Too Shall Pass.
Over the years I’ve learned to maximize visual space while minimizing weight and setup time. I’ll include some links (yes, affiliate links) to some of the products I’m using for my own setup, but you can get most or all of this at your local hardware store.
We all gotta sell stuff, so we all gotta grab attention. Building a marketing fortress around a 6-foot folding table really isn’t that novel an idea, but it gets a lot more complicated when that table lives 3,000 miles away from your studio. Do you really want to haul those metal wire shelves through an airport and pay the extra fortune for an overweight checked bag?
Sounds like touring musician’s hell to me.
Solution #1: A Series of Tubes
Creating a PVC banner stand is easy enough that most people don’t need my help figuring it out:
- Calculate how much 1/2″ PVC pipe you’ll need to make a giant croquet wicket big enough to hold your banner over your head.
- Cut it into sections that will fit in your checked bags (my Action Packer can take 27″ lengths diagonally at the top of the bin).
- Buy enough elbows and couplers to assemble the thing into an inverted U
- Grab at least 5 velcro cable ties to attach your banner to the frame AND keep it rolled up in storage. If your banner doesn’t have grommets… well, you figure it out then.
- THE SECRET INGREDIENT: Get a couple of those Quick-Grip clamps with a bar that will fit inside the PVC pipe. Clamp them to your display table with the bar pointing upwards and you now have a rock-solid base for your stand. I found a two-pack at the local hardware store for just $20.
The Quick-Grip Clamps completely eliminated the need for a free-standing leg system, shaving at least 5 pounds off of my previous setup. You might be able to get away with materials other than PVC pipe for the frame, but it’s hard to beat the price and versatility of something this simple.
Solution #2: Go Fly A Kite
As you can see from the first photo above, I used to travel with some flat poster-board standup displays that fit in either my keyboard case or my Action Packer. Handy, sure, but it looks more like a high school science fair than a professional musician.
Recently my adorable science-minded and ruggedly-outdoorsy boyfriend pointed me towards an idea that screams DIY at the top of its lungs. He mentioned that professional displays, tents, and kites all share five key features:
- Above all else, light weight
- Prop up a large, flimsy surface area and keep it taut
- Collapse into a portable package
Compare prices for a basic tent pole replacement kit and a professional display stand and you might not believe they’re the same basic materials… But they are. Fiberglass poles (flexible, strong, lightweight) holding up a large surface (tent, banner) that can be collapsed into a small tube for storage (portable).
Even better, pre-made tent poles are already designed to separate and collapse with an internal bungee cord, so the assembly headache is minimal.
- Find a tent pole kit that best fits your budget and size needs. In my case, it’s a set of four 27″ poles.
- Make an X with the poles and figure out how big your banner will need to be. (It’s called a hypotenuse, remember geometry class?) In my case, 1 banner that’s 1 foot wide by nearly 5 feet tall gives me a diagonal of 54″, the length of two poles.
- Find a couple of small, strong, rigid tubes that you can epoxy together as a fixed cross-piece. The angle and size will depend on your poles and banner, but the idea is the same: This thing keeps the poles crossed in the center like the T-Junction behind a kite. Slide the poles into the cross piece when setting the banner up, slide them out when tearing it down.
- Attach the corners of the poles to the new banner… somehow. If you’ve got grommets, fine. I plan on just using duct tape to reinforce the corners and make a little pocket to slide the pole ends into.
- Remember those table clamps? Anchor the kite to the vertical length of PVC to keep it upright. Even if you’re not bringing the big banner, the clamp and vertical poles will come in handy as an anchor
Voila, you now have an impressive amount of banner space that completely rolls up into a lightweight package. The only thing that won’t go into a tube mailer are the clamps, but those really aren’t hard to store or lug around, considering the amount of work they do for their size.
Whatever you do beyond this- lights, sounds, etc. -is up to you, but this is an easily eye-popping start that’ll put you ahead of most indie merchants I’ve seen. There really are only two drawbacks I can see: Using clamps means you really can’t use the banner without a table… but honestly, if you’re playing a gig without a merch table, it’s probably not the kind of gig where a bigass banner would be appropriate anyway.
Also, you really can’t hold merchandise above the table other than hanging a shirt or two from the banner stand somehow. I really haven’t found this to be a problem, though; once the banners have done their eye-catching job, people don’t care if the CD’s are on the table or up on a pedestal. The important thing is that it looks professional and packs down smaller than two pairs of jeans.
If you’ve got any ideas, of course, please feel free to share. I’m always analyzing other people’s displays to get ideas for my own, hopefully this post will save you some weight and hassle on your next trip!
UPDATE: The first of the three companies to respond with anything resembling help was… Pandora! They’ve bypassed the Amazon requirement for me this once and have added the album to the list. While this doesn’t mean the breakdown described in this letter is SOLVED yet, at the very least my immediate concerns have been addressed by someone.
Mike, I thank you wholeheartedly and I hope that the process will be updated to avoid this mess before the next indie artist gets stuck in limbo.
Update #2: So the CEO of CD Baby/Discmakers left a comment. Seriously, that’s a good sign, folks, it means there are indeed human beings still at the helm of CD Baby. Read the letter, then read Tony’s reply in the comments below.
All I want is to get The Lives of Dexter Peterson on Pandora Radio, just like my last 5 albums.
I feel like I’m dealing with three petulant children right now, and the irony is that I’m the supposedly unstable artist type, not the temperate, avuncular type that’s mature enough to know what “avuncular” means. Once upon a time, these three children had a symbiotic system of sharing set up:
- Pandora Radio requires an indie artist to have physical CD’s listed on Amazon.com with correct track listings and meta data.
- Amazon acquired discs and info from CD Baby as a distributor
- CD Baby would take $50 per album from me to set up all this information and get the ball rolling so they could earn money off of my music.
Now, because of some behind-the-scenes wankery, this beautiful pipeline has shut completely off, leaving independent artists like myself completely out of luck if we want to be heard on Pandora Radio. Since this is an open letter to all three of your companies, I’ll sit you down one at a time. Please pay attention.
Seriously, what happened? Back in the Sivers days, you guys were all about what’s best for the artist. It was a time when “sorry, that’s not our problem” wasn’t in your vocabulary. I don’t know if the Discmakers buyout has changed you or if you’ve just gotten older and less idealistic, but some of you have got to remember what it was like being an independent artist, not a remote vending machine.
To be told “sorry, this is Amazon’s problem” is simply unacceptable. We artists are paying you a setup fee and a chunk of every single one of our sales, this is your problem. Telling me to contact Amazon is a petty cop-out, especially when you know they’re just going to tell us “you have to do this through your distributor” (which is YOU).
Is Amazon being a brat and giving you the silent treatment? Fine, level with us. You’re one of us, remember? Have you never heard of the Executive Email Carpet Bomb? Give us the power to help you fix what Amazon clearly broke! You can’t tell us you don’t have contact info that goes far beyond their “get them to hang up as quickly as possible” line of customer service. Give us the direct line of the person handling this mess if you’re unwilling to solve it yourselves.
Remember- we pay you, not Amazon, this is your problem to solve.
Hey, why you gotta be a bitch to CD Baby? They’re being really nice to you- you know, sending you tons of products to sell every year and giving you the means to compete against the iTunes Music Store. Now CD Baby says you’re not playing nice with them. Worse, you’re not even playing nice with those of us making the products you profit from. What gives?
And don’t tell me “sign up for CreateSpace or Advantage” either. The former is a print-on-demand service and, in case you hadn’t noticed, I already paid for a huge pile of inventory. The latter would mean I’d have to mail my own inventory out, pay you an annual fee, and deal with multiple listings of the same album on your site.
On top of all this, you already have all the track data for my new album, I can see it right there on the MP3 page! Is it really so hard to just copy and paste data you already have? Why are you giving me this “talk to your distributor” crap when you know my distributor can’t fix this problem? Unless CD Baby is lying to me, of course, and they wouldn’t do that.
(Right, CD Baby?)
If you haven’t been paying attention (and given the fact that multiple emails have so far gone unanswered, I’m assuming you’re not paying attention), there’s obviously a disconnect between the largest indie music retailer on Earth and the only retailer on Earth you’ll pull album data from. Here’s a thought… why bother going through Amazon at all?
CD Baby has their own affiliate program, so you could still make money through album sales the same way you do through Amazon. They’ve got all the track info, album art, and meta data ready to go. They even have the UPC codes you seem to be in love with- a strange fetish, but I’ve seen stranger. Why not spend a little effort and just generate a pipeline direct from CD Baby to your submission department?
Once upon a time I said some really nice things about you in Rolling Stone because I actually believed you were the future of music discovery. Tim Westergren seemed all about the independent artist, not just sucking up to the major labels like Spotify.
By the way, the new album is already on Spotify.
Now I’m beginning to see one clear difference between Pandora and major record labels: The major labels I’ve contacted have all actually answered my emails.
The Final Plea
Once upon a time you guys all played nice together. Remember? The system worked really well just last year. I don’t know what you guys did to piss each other off, but the only ones that are being hurt by this are the independent artists who actually are the future of the music industry. If you can’t make the system work for us, the system doesn’t work.
Any one of you can solve this problem very quickly, but for my situation I must blame CD Baby. I don’t pay Pandora, I don’t pay Amazon, I pay you directly. You are my representative, you are my “label” as far as these other companies are concerned. I expect Amazon to be a faceless, soulless megacompany, but I will be sorely disappointed if CD Baby has become the same.
All I want is to get The Lives of Dexter Peterson on Pandora Radio, just like my last 5 albums.
If you haven’t read Emily White’s post about how she’s spent her life stealing music or David Lowery’s thoughtful response on his own blog, I’ll give you the tweet-length version: Kids today download music because paying money is inconvenient to them; the thought of purchasing songs doesn’t even cross their minds. You’re better off reading the posts, though, they’re quite detailed and articulate (or as most of you would say, TL;DR). Shit, even JoCo wrote a fairly brilliant response already. I have my own.I spoke at the 140 Characters Conference this week in New York City about Indie Music TODAY. I led the talk with the statement that I earn my living playing my music- not waiting tables, not in a cover band. I felt it was important to establish that fact up front because, frankly, everybody seems to think that being paid for your art is impossible these days. Some people (who clearly are making their living selling books or public speaking, not through their music) have even encouraged artists to give their music away for free. All of it.
As I said on stage in Manhattan, this business is about connection, not money. It’s about taking something intangible from inside you and, by sharing it, changing someone else’s life. That is why we do this thing we do; the airborne panties and room keys are merely a side benefit.
Here, watch the video and you’ll understand where I’m coming from:
Watch on UStream’s site if you can’t see it here.
Touched By A T-Shirt?
As Lowery thoroughly debunked the “artists can earn their keep at live performances” line, I want to hit the other popular misconception that merch sales (shirts, stickers, etc.) can make up the revenue shortfall. The margins may be better on some items, but no one’s life was changed by a laser-etched bottle-opener key chain. They don’t fling underwear because the shirts are well designed and they sure as hell don’t break into tears because that bumper sticker will fit perfectly on their Focus.
I guess what I’m saying is this: If you think the concert tickets or t-shirts have value, why the fuck would you think the songs that brought you there don’t have value?
To a certain extent, it’s our own fault. People have been shelling out money for soulless music-esque auto-tuned noises for so long they may have forgotten that music is supposed to communicate with their souls. If I listened to Bieber all day I probably wouldn’t value music either. If the music industry is going to survive at all, artists will need to be on their A game with every release.
Then again, piracy is to blame as well… but not just kids like Emily who don’t understand what’s at stake here. The industrial pirate kings like Spotify and Grooveshark are as much at fault as the Free Culture. I have to agree with Lowery on this one: these services have conned the masses into thinking that they’re giving artists a fair cut. They’re not. Sure, I’d rather you listen to me than ignore me, but if you’re listening on Spotify you may as well just be stealing the music.
Connection Is Everything
Maybe you like party music. Maybe you’re an emo kid. Maybe, like me, you like good authentic production with lyrics that you have to listen to ten times before you get what the artist is really saying. The point is that somehow this music- the intangible intellectual property -changed you. It connected you to an artist like me or Coulton or, God help you, Nickelback in a way that renders normal communication deficient.
I’m not going to say I just made love to your ears, but that kind of bond can easily be as close as sex. If the love and support is only flowing one way, however, one of us is just getting fucked.
So yesterday was Chartbombing Day for The Lives of Dexter Peterson. If you’re reading this, I probably didn’t need to tell you because I emailed, Google Plussed, Facebooked, and tweeted about it a thousand times yesterday. Now the dust is settling from the virtual cash mob of yesterday and it’s time to see the results.
Traffic Jam Session
The first and most easily followed result was website traffic. Thanks to Google Analytics I was able to watch real-time numbers throughout the day. Sometimes I’d see a tweet or a G+ post and go check out the stats to watch the bump, but more frequently I’d see the traffic number suddenly spike and then go look for what caused it. Many, many thanks to FurAffinity for all the traffic they sent my way, you were easily the #1 driver for this event other than myself!
Overall, traffic to my website jumped (wait for it) 1,058% yesterday. Obviously the majority were fellow Amercians, but the UK and Canada nearly tied for second place with Germany and others close behind. I was a little surprised to see a nearly even split between Firefox and Chrome browsers cruising the site since, to my knowledge, people only use Chrome for Google+ Hangouts. Eight of you were still using IE 6 (seriously, wtf?)
But you don’t really care about traffic, you want to hear about charts.
Bombs Away Part I: iTunes
The most difficult chart to follow was the iTunes Music Store. Like all things Apple, they don’t announce how often they update their charts, how they calculate positions, where an album is likely to end up, or what it takes to get on the front page. We just sort of had to stumble across the results whenever we could. I don’t know if anyone else saw a higher peak than we did (please let me know!), but when we finally did see movement, The Lives of Dexter Peterson hit #85 on the iTunes Rock chart (by the time I took a screen-cap it was at 87). As of this morning, it’s sitting at #127, but damn… we broke the top 100!
To give some perspective, that #85 put me higher up than Elton John, the Foo Fighters, and The White Stripes. While I only take pleasure (no small amount) in besting the latter, that should clarify the kind of league I was playing in. This is why I was pushing so hard for support from the community- to quote Oliver Platt from The West Wing, “this isn’t Arena League, this is NFL football.” The fact that I’m even visible on the rock chart at all right now is a victory, but breaking the top 100 is a badge that the Robot Army should wear with pride.
Bombs Away Part II: Amazon
I’ll start with the good news: As of this morning, The Lives of Dexter Peterson is currently the #1 best seller in Amazon’s Adult Alternative category. Boom! That’s far more than I expected to happen with this little stunt. In fact, the album hit some incredible milestones yesterday, but what matters most are the lasting effects. Amazon’s charts are updated hourly, so any victories could be rolled back in less time than it takes to watch Serenity on Netflix.
The current standings for the album:
- #1 in Adult Alternative
- #6 in Miscellaneous (seriously, that’s a genre?)
- #44 in Alternative Rock (think Green Day or The Black Keys)
- #225 in all of Amazon MP3
Think about it for a second. I am nobody (just like my Manifesto says). I do not have a record label, management, a publicist, or major investors. All I have are people like you who are reading this long, boring wrap-up because you like my tunes. You’ve put my new album in the top ten of a couple genre charts, the top 50 of a particularly competitive genre chart, and the fact that I’m in triple-digit standing in all of Amazon’s music catalog at all is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
As for the single itself, “I Wish I Were”:
- #1 in Miscellaneous (there we go again…)
- #4 in Adult Alternative
- #38 in Alternative Rock
- #382 in all of Amazon MP3′s singles
One thing that the iTunes charts lack is a “Billboard Hot 100″ equivalent. Amazon, however, calls it their “Movers and Shakers” chart. Thanks to the efforts of a ton of people yesterday, the album is still #5 and the single is #2 on the Movers and Shakers chart. This one, by definition, is temporal, but if you want to measure a surge, this is the best place to look. Oh, if only I could conquer the music world at 18,827% growth for the rest of my career. Hell, for the rest of the week, even.
I have no conclusion yet. After 24 hours, I’m humbled, stunned, and excited all at the same time, but God only knows what this surge will mean in the long run. I will certainly try this again the next time I release an album, but as one fan suggested on Twitter I will not do this for more than a day at a time. The amount of prep, coordination, and flat-out spamblasting involved just isn’t sustainable. People seemed excited enough about joining the effort for a day, but I’m pretty sure I’d lose a lot of friends if I did this all the time.
The one solid conclusion I can come to is really a confirmation of something I realized years ago: I have the best fans ever invented. Thank you.