Friday, 20 November 2009


As I write this I have the one hundredth most subscribed youtube channel in the UK. By the time you're reading this there's a good chance I won't anymore! I've been slipping down the list for several months now and as I'm on the way out it's got me thinking about the last two years and what I've accomplished on the site. I always say that I'm doing better than I thought I would be when I joined up, but now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that's true.

I doubt I would have thought 20,000 subscribers was achievable in my first two years. Though I was confident my channel could do well, back then even Mr Coollike didn't have those kind of numbers. So in terms of subscribers I am doing better than I thought I would be. But that's no measure of success. My life goal right now is to be able to afford to live by selling music. Of course music is much more than that, but I'm only looking at the business side of things right now.* I've always had the idea in my head, and I believe it's a well known theory in the industry, that if I were to have 1000 hardcore fans - by which I mean people who buy every album or EP I offer them - then I could live off that, and so my life goal could be translated into 'finding 1000 hardcore fans.'

My subscriber count may have exceeded expectations, but I definitely overestimated the percentage of subscribers that would turn into the 'hardcore fans'. Right now I think I'm at about 100. That's 10% of the aim, after two years. So it'll be another 18 years if I continue at that rate, and realistically I'm not picking up speed right now, I'm slowing down. Six months ago I'd be getting 40 - 50 new subscribers to my channel every day, now it's half of that on a good day.

This isn't me being depressed and moaning about life, I'm fairly optimistic about the future. I think I will accomplish that goal, and a long time before 2027 as well! I'm just re-evaluating. The internet is a powerful tool for a musician, but maybe not as much as I've given it credit for. Right now I just want to move to London, turn some friends into some band members and start gigging, a lot. You may not reach as many people that way, but I think it's a better way to find those 1000 (and it's fun!) Of course the real answer is to do both. But there's a balance there and I think I've let the internet side take up too much time so far.

Overall I wouldn't say that was a mistake, if I'd gone the traditional route from the beginning I don't think I'd have made it this far. I'd have given up on the dream and gotten a real job, letting music remain a hobby. I owe so much of my confidence to the people who have supported me online, and even if Blue Skies didn't exist, I'd still be obsessed with being a part of this community - so many ridiculously important people in my life right now were introduced to me thanks to one website or another.

I'm sorry for talking business (ish) I don't usually talk about this side of things, it's just been on my mind lately. I don't even like calling people 'fans' it sounds ridiculous. I'll wrap up with some thoughts on the future...

It's gonna be pretty great. I'm gonna move to London. I'm gonna gig more. I've been speaking to Paul a lot lately and we have so many ideas and plans that at least one of them is going to make us rich and then none of this business stuff will matter. I'm going to stay at his in December with Ian and we're gonna be very productive, both in terms of actually making some kind of EP or album and in terms of making plans for the new year.

This has been pretty long and probably vague or missing some massively important points. You probably don't care, but if you do have any questions about what I've said or about anything really, just ask.

Goodnight, and thanks for reading this... I appreciate all of the support you guys have given more than I can express.


p.s. Fairytale of New York just came on itunes shuffle, but not the version I have on The Pogues album... It's a one off and I don't know where I got it, but the album name it's listed under is 'Irish Punk Drinking Songs Compilation'. That sounds like the greatest album in the world, I might have to track it down.

*If I were to ignore business for a moment, and compare my musical output to what two years ago I had thought I'd be creating, I believe I have exceeded my expectations, though they were not particularly high! I still consider myself a beginner and am looking forward to the coming year as I think it will be very exciting musically. That fact alone is more important that the whole of this blog, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't be thinking about these things.


Darren said...

The future sounds fun, I got excited reading this, and it's not even about me xD I always thought you should do more gigs. I'm still yet to see you play live. LOVE <3

Martin K. Smith said...

With regards purely to Youtube and your subscriber count not rising as quickly as it might have before...

I'm not sure how I found your channel originally, but lately, I haven't just been stumbling across videos/users in the same way I used to.

My youtube homepage has a subscriber box and the "featured videos" box, which I can't get rid off. Everything else is turned off. The videos currently being featured are by "ITV1", "gordonramsay", "4oDFood" and "SheRa" - the "4oDFood" video appears to be a full episode of "Come Dine With Me", where as before, if a user was featured, it was because it was a video worth watching. It helped that user gain a following, because they'd done something to deserve being watched. Now, it seems to be more about who paid the most.

I'm not sure how many times you were featured in the old system, but I'd imagine it happened at the very least once? I'm not even sure if they do feature people in the same way they used to, but I'd imagine now it's entirely pointless if they do.

Also, (and this isn't me having a go at you) if new users are discovering your newer videos, they might be put off by the fact that you're selling things. For users that have been with you for a while, they've seen how hard you've worked to produce the music/CDs/Tshirts. New users haven't though and may be put off by the fact that you're trying to get money out of them.

I'm not sure if that makes sense. It's 3:43am. But, while I still enjoy youtube and the basic features that got me to enjoy it are still there, it, in my opinion, is no longer a users medium, which is where I think it's failing you.

Dave said...

@Martin very astute for 3:43am!

Fat. Bitch. said...

I look forward to gigs in London. =)
Saw you at Summer In The City and you were amazing, it was so gutting I had to leave early so I didn't miss the last train. I'll have to make up for it when you're playing more shows. =)

Martin K. Smith said...

I do try.

Also, Fairytale of New York is one of my favourite christmas songs (and it's probably up there in the non-christmas list too)

Greg said...

I think the internet is great for getting a fan base but i do feel the best way to get noticed is still through constant gigging, especially in London. If you ever need a bassist or guitarist then you know where i am :)

Dale said...

Look forward to new things, been interesting seeing you go from what you were at, doesn't seem like yesterday does it. Time goes by, quick.

Jay said...


i know i'm a little late in commenting, but I just saw this in my feed and it got me thinking. YouTube is just not the place to build an audience anymore. The users have been successfully overshadowed by the companies and it's impossible to find talent. That's why your numbers have been slipping, because new people don't know how to get to you, and old people aren't using YouTube anymore.

I would like to say that I'm a hardcore fan (we've known each other for eons and I've watched pretty much all of your videos), but I haven't bought any of your music! (The Blackout Sessions IS the next thing on my wishlist though. I just need to get an Apple ID so I can use iTunes again [i used to log in through my AIM screenname, they don't do that anymore >:o]).

keep on keepin' on.

Dave said...

@Jay on the whole I agree, finding an audience is harder than ever. But some people still manage to do it, so it must be possible. But I think it's getting to the point where you have to either provide lowest common denominator crap to get into the mainstream, or leach off an already established audience e.g. the nerdfighters *shudders*

And yes I really misused the term 'hardcore fan', there are loads of people who are the most important listeners who haven't bought anything because they haven't been able to, that's a different matter but when thinking about business you have to forget about individuals and stories and look at figures and statistics and all that shit. That's why you'll only see me write about business about twice a year!

Anonymous said...

you have to appeal to the people with money. the teen audience will fall in love with you and fan you, but they have no money. i am a few years older than you, have an established job, and a disposable income. that is why i can support your music and even pay 15 pounds for a Rarities album ;)
i see this when there are Indie gigs around here. the people who attend are in their mid to late 20's and early 30's. young people will either be too reserved to spend their money on something not mainstream and trendy, or it will be too hard for them to convince their parents to give them money for music and merchandise for artists their parents have never heard of.

Dave said...

@wikdot I agree in terms of CD sales, but not live shows. Kids now have grown up downloading music for free so they're much less likely to buy it. But here they'd kill for live music, especially as most venues are 18+ because they all make their money from alcohol. It's a serious fucking problem in the music industry that nobody cares enough about.

Once I'm settled in London I definitely plan on getting something regular that's at least 14+ going.