Drowned in Sound to return as a weekly newsletter

Some exciting news for you.

I’ve decided to bring DiS back to its roots as a newsletter. I just sent out this note to existing subscribers so check your inbox for a note from seaninsound@gmail.com or read it and subscribe here.

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Gone to “promotions” in my Gmail in case anyone can’t see it in their inbox.

Will it learn if we all drag it across?

Dunno. Moved it to “primary” :will see what happens when the next one comes along.

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Hopefully all the really angry people who can’t remember subscribing as I’ve not sent an email for years won’t see it. That’s the only silver lining.

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Personally not a huge fan of newsletters, but I can make an exception here. All the best of luck with it and I hope it does really well.

Well I really like newsletters. Norman Records do a great one, I hope this is in a similar vein with good recommendations and links to playlists etc. Good luck!

To be fair, you can read it all online too, and the homepage will reflect this in due course. I’m also looking to get the Facebook Messenger bot working again, and might send missives via that still too (annoying FB changed some settings and it stopped working)

I popped some gems from the archive up already https://drownedinsound.substack.com/

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Sounds good. It’s just great to have DiS back!

Saw this comment on Facebook and have replied there but thought it might be worth replying here too for anyone else who was upset by this as it’s something people have mentioned over the years. Hopefully the context is helpful.

My reply: for some context and as I don’t remember exactly who, what or when you might have read this but… from about 2007-2018 we were getting sent in excess of 1000 albums a month. Plus tracks every minute of every day. It was impossible alongside full time jobs (our reviews editor for instance was also the theatre editor of TimeOut as his full time day job) and people would send increasingly abusive emails if we didn’t get back to them. I say abusive in the true sense of it. Throw in people hounding you via social media and finding your personal email address, turning up at events asking if you’ve listened to something that was sent six months ago… can you imagine how “fun” and pervasive this accumulation could become?

In order to commission a pool of mostly unpaid freelance contributors, we needed to get albums to them 3-4 weeks before release so that we could run reviews within 2 weeks of release for some sort of new release guide focus to what we were doing. We also used to get readers annoyed that they would read something but couldn’t buy any music or find anything online - this may have been what we meant by labels ie if you’re just uploading an EP to SoundCloud, we only review albums that are commercially available. It was an attempt to filter the volume of music we were sent and manage expectations.

The reality is, coverage on our site wasn’t making a significant difference to most of the lesser known acts we were covering because people weren’t choosing to click on it. The more we ran the less people read. The less we ran, the angrier people got. Disdain came from all angles all the time… It was one of the major reasons I decided to put the site on pause when it was no longer financially viable.

Personally, I’ve always covered acts regardless of what label they were on or not on one at all. I’ve covered Paramore level acts and unsigned drone artists in the same radio shows and playlists and album of the year lists.

However, even if DiS was my full time job, processing the volume of music were sent every hour of every day is not impossible. Finding the cream of the crop and finding a way to intrigue an audience about it, is even harder.

I once worked out I was getting around 30-70 hours of music per hour, which sounds ridiculous but it’s actually only a few albums and tracks. I occasionally did threads on our forums sharing every promo email I received so that people could get a sense of what it was like.

What was being published was a tip of the iceberg. I’d listen to music for days on end and not find a single think I wanted to shout about. And yet if I was running an ad-supported content farm, I’d have published every video and mentioned every act in order to drive some potential goodwill and traffic.

I also ran an independent label (Drowned in Sound Recordings and then CCCLX Music) for most of the time I’ve been doing DiS and also managed artists. And worked for a record distributor. I’m acutely aware how tough it is to get coverage but also know how much competition there is when estimates suggest around 100k albums are released each year and 1000s of new tracks are added to streaming services every day.

I don’t know the answer to filtering the noise and I do apologise if you feel you were excluded but I hope this response goes some way to explaining the context and reasons why we had a disclaimer of sorts.

To be frank… At times I have absolutely hated ever starting the site because of reading things like this and knowing that whatever I do it will never be enough. That’s not to excuse that I and we couldn’t and shouldn’t have done more but what you perhaps don’t appreciate us that it’s an impossible task running a website with the best of intentions. I’d far rather build the trust of a large audience and slip them new discoveries, rather than be nice to every act sending music in but bringing no new audience to what you/they do.

I hope that all makes sense.
Best
Sean

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Don’t beat yourself up, from what I saw you covered a hell of a lot of ground over the years and it’s hardly like you were only covering stadium-sized bands - even as someone relatively well-versed in music I made loads of discoveries from the site.

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Thank you.

I know a lot of people loved the site and those who grumble are often the only ones to chime in.

I started the site to help people find music and to help artists find an audience. It’s super basic a principle but for some reason some people think it’s something more complicated than that.

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Any thoughts on the second edition? Format ok? Too long? Wrong day to send it?

I don’t think I’m even on the list which is amusing given I used to write for you :smiley: I’ll go sign up

big fan of you bringing JAG! back and explaining its terminology :smiley:

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To be fair, the old site was so busy and the mailing list was a bit buried aged the joining the forums to join the list stopped working and we had to move to MailChimp.

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Very much enjoyed the newsletter - it’s so good to have you back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that Autolux album before - and it’s probably going to take a few listens to fully get it, but without your enthusiasm it would pass me by. Often the best music takes a little effort. But even if it doesn’t click, it’s great to hear such passion for music.

it’s upsetting to hear how difficult. running the site has been and how unappreciative some people are.

For a long time, DiS was pretty much the one and only place online I’d go to discover new music. Nowhere else was as readable nor informative and I still miss it a lot. The forums are amazing in so many ways and since finally succumbing to it I have more music stacked up than I can ever get through and I’m always finding something new. But still miss the coverage on your web site.

Still, please keep going! Even if you’ll always get moaners, there’s plenty of love for what you do on here.

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Thank you for such a kind a thoughtful message.

Small request. In order to fool the algorithm into showing our post to more than 1% of our followers, can you give this a retweet?