So I have something to talk about…

The last post I made on this blog was 7 months and 21 days ago saying that 2018 would be the year for blogging. While that didn’t turn out to be especially true, I do have something interesting to blog about.

Myself and Ben have started a newsletter focused on Drum & Bass, published every Sunday evening. We cover upcoming releases – or, at least, all those that are publicly available – “reloads” from the past week, events, news, and random stuff. We’ve even broken a bit of news.

It’s called D&B Downloads and Reloads (D&R), a product of some brainstorming, and it has nearing 250 subscribers, after a little over two months. It’s hard to judge how big something like this will get, since the D&B online market is fragmented and it’s impossible to know how many page views and unique visitors other blogs get. Plus, we deliver to inboxes directly, so maybe blogs aren’t the best comparison.

One of the reasons I’m excited about D&R is that it fills a genuine niche; no one else does what we’re doing. Granted, labels have newsletters and outlets like UKF report on the scene – but no where that I know of collates upcoming releases, past releases, news, and so on (and a Spotify playlist) into one easily readable place on a regular basis.

So, as I’m sat at home “making” the next edition – D&R: August 19 – I’ve decided to blog about anything interesting that happens in the course of doing this. We’ve committed to doing it for six months at a minimum; we’re about halfway through that right now.

One of the best things for me personally – as someone who isn’t too involved in the scene – is the reaction of other people to what we’re doing. Pretty much everyone who sees the newsletter likes it and thinks the concept is cool. On the internet, creating something that has that reaction is nice, especially as people read it week in, week out. Getting people to read a blog or whatever via social media is super tough, and it’s nice to cut through that.

Another interesting thing about running a newsletter is getting to see the analytics; how people read it, when they read it, what they click on, are all fascinating insights. When people have opened it once, we’ve found, they will almost certainly open it again. Some people seem to have learnt when it goes out (5pm) and open it literally within seconds.

While the number of subscribers we have isn’t that many in absolute terms – although I would contend the addressable market is very hard to measure – they all engage in what we create and are willing to click links. Oftentimes, we see people clicking links right at the end of the newsletter.

There is a trend towards newsletters at big publications right now. Unlike social media, the email inbox is one of the few places that isn’t controlled by algorithm. Provided you aren’t marked as spam – or some other odd situation – your product will arrive, roughly on time, with a little ding. There are a lot of people who don’t check email (I see this among friends with 1,000+ unread counts), but we’ve found that people do come back regularly if you show them it’s worth it.

Some of the newsletters I subscribe to likely have tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of subscribers. Unfortunately, the Drum & Bass market isn’t big enough to support even the lower end of those numbers. The largest Facebook group – as far as I know – has less than 45,000 people in it, and many of those won’t be active. I reckon, and this isn’t really based on anything, that between 1,500 and 3,000 is probably as big as we could get.

While that may seem small, even getting more than ten people to read (and interact with) something every week is an achievement in our media saturated lives.

Probably my favourite thing about D&R is that even if we stayed at whatever number of subscribers we have now, it’ll be worth the work it takes every week. We’ve devised quite an ingenuous system to get it written and distributed each week. On average, I think Ben worked out, we write about 1,500 words every week, mostly in Google Docs. MailChimp’s free tier allows for <2,000 recipients and <12,000 emails sent each month. Given we’re at about 12.5% of that total, and we send five emails per month to each of them maximum, we’ll be able to use the free tier for a long, long time. Other than that, I pay £3/month for the email and £10/year for the domain, which is hosted for free on Blogger.

I’m excited to see how this thing grows and evolves. It seems unlikely we’ll ever make money from it, although I have a few ideas about how we could, the experience is a lot of fun.

Read this week’s newsletter here.