By my count, I’ve written and sent 200 newsletters on Substack. Before I started my Substack adventure I had major runs on the board as a blogger. I did nearly a decade at Stuff.co.nz pumping out a new music-related topic every day, until they decided that blogs were dead and that they didn’t like what I did; didn’t need it.
Intriguingly, and apparently only ever coincidentally, this happened, this email “firing”, the day I wrote about The Time Robbie Williams Tweeted A Picture of My Son (for the Spinoff).
For the last six years I’ve been furiously banging out words about music and other things for this site, Off The Tracks. As you might know, I started in late 2012 – geez, nearly 10 years ago. And before all of that, and before the Stuff blog (which started in late 2007!) I was contributing to newspapers, magazines and various sites at a blistering pace. So, in fact, I had been hoofing out music-related content for nearly 20 years.
I describe myself now as a 75% retired music writer.
Here at this site, I’m more likely to write about old music that I’m newly loving, rather than any new release. If I do review something it’s usually ambient, a movie soundtrack, or some modern classical or jazz – sometimes it’s a new shiny pop or rock thing that has been covered elsewhere as well. But that’s now the rarity. And I’m way more likely to share a film review or a poem or story, or to rewrite and reshape an old blog for that site. Just to keep my hand in. I’m also less likely to hit something out of the keyboard every single day.
I look forward to my days on the Substack – my days (three times a week) where I share the load between TV and movies (Monday), books and writing (Wednesday) and something to do with music (Friday).
I’m learning to love music again – which might sound funny, since I’ve clearly had this deep love of it that has driven me to producing content across two decades in direct response to it, inspired by it, informed by it, reacting to it, admitting to disappointment or heartbreak because of clichés – and of course not without sharing plenty of my own clichés in that writing-up process. That’s, erm, par for the course…the way the cookie crumbles…
Some things will never change. That’s just the way it is.
So, thanks to anyone that’s read any of the newsletters, been subscribed for a bit, or thought about it…
I love getting up early or staying up late and pondering a topic or idea, putting together a playlist (on Fridays) and sending this out – whatever it ends up being…
I love changing between the daily topics and themes, genres if you like. In some ways it was easier when I had music as the central topic five days a week. In some ways I never knew – then nor now – how I kept that up for quite so long.
Music is always there for me. And I listen to it now perhaps more than I ever have (usually I have earbuds in listening to something to send me to sleep). But I feel the need to comment on it far less than used to be the case. The internet is a noisy place, a nosy place, and some days I’m just trying to get my rest. And being another voice clogging up the information super highway won’t always produce your proudest moments.
But I’m still listening. Still discovering. And I’m learning to love going to gigs again – these days as not only a paying punter (usually) but as someone that just leaves the gig there, takes home nothing but memories. I will sometimes review shows, because old habits die hard and very slowly, but I also just walk out of things like happy to have seen something that I really loved.
This is its own form of relief.
I’m good at just owning the content I make or the shows I’m involved with and seeing a part of it as being to mention it and hope it moves people to participate. But I’m a lot happier when I don’t need to do that.
A big part of this revelation of course was removing myself from Facebook I guess (and that was a big part of the motivation to do that). People still write and mention that they miss the music page, the community, the clips and things I shared. And it’s nice that people care. And I might miss them. But I do not miss the medium. You fill your boots with Facebook still if you want to. But my life is better for not slipping that in my shoe. I walk so freely now.
I have more than halved my reach, my audience. From a ‘business’ point of view it was close to career suicide. The Facebook reach was crucial when I started Substack too. But from a personal point of view – and given this was never a business that’s all that matters – it’s been a lifesaver. Truly. And Substack is a fun way to reach out and share some words. So I just wanted to have a wee personal celebration at the 200-mark.