All posts tagged Sharing

  • The Walkley Magazine story: ‘Weekly Email Dispatches From A Freelancer’s Lonely Desk’, April 2017

    A story for issue 88 of The Walkley Magazine, the quarterly publication for Australian media professionals. Excerpt below.

    Weekly Email Dispatches From A Freelancer’s Lonely Desk

    Newsletter as lifeline.

    The Walkley Magazine story by Andrew McMillen: 'Weekly Email Dispatches From A Freelancer’s Lonely Desk', April 2017. Illustration by Tom Jellett

    The email subject line in edition #139 was “Clown doctors, giant pigs and public shaming”, while #99 was titled “Gay twins, shot elephants and friendly magpies”. The intention is always to pique the reader’s interest, so that if they see Dispatches among a few dozen emails in their inbox, mine is the one they’ll want to open first, because they are curious about these three unique phrases—taken from the recommendations contained within—and want to know more.

    Every week, you see, I spend an hour or two compiling an email newsletter that is sent to people around the world. Some of them are my friends and family; others I have never met before, and have no idea how they came across my work. Since starting with zero subscribers in March 2014, I have now delivered more than 140 editions. The newsletter is called Dispatches, after the Michael Herr book of the same name. It is a space where I recommend excellent feature articles and books I have read and enjoyed, as well as podcasts, music, and my own recently published writing.

    Its format has remained unchanged in the three years since I started. There are three sections: Words, Sounds and Reads. I choose a relevant image to announce each section, because I know that an email newsletter consisting only of text can be a little overwhelming.

    Since the beginning, I have sent the newsletter on Thursday mornings. This was a deliberate choice: as Friday tends to be the busiest day for office workers scrambling to meet deadlines before clocking off for the weekend, I figured that seeing a long, considered email from me a couple of mornings before the workweek ends might offer a welcome reprieve. Setting an expectation around a weekly publication schedule might help to give others some structure in their work lives, too. (Perhaps I am projecting.)

    For the first couple of years, I would compile the recommendations on Wednesday, and then wait until waking the following morning to manually press “send” using a free online service called TinyLetter. Now, I publish it just after midnight, in the wee hours of Thursday morning—which suits me better as a night owl, anyway. It’s the last thing I do before going to bed, and it pleases me to know that, by the time I’m back at the desk the following morning, more than a hundred people will have already opened the latest edition.

    To read the full story, visit The Walkley Magazine on Medium. Above illustration credit: Tom Jellett.

  • Dan Deacon Live: Improvisation and Acceptance


    I saw a remarkable show this weekend.

    Melbourne’s Mistletone Records held a label showcase called Summer Tones across Australian venues. 

    The Brisbane show at The Zoo comprised Mistletone artists The Ruby Suns, Lawrence Arabia, High Places, Beaches and Dan Deacon [pictured right].

    Deacon’s headlining performance was remarkable because he got the audience to do ridiculous things.

    At one point, hundreds formed a human spiral by running around The Zoo’s central staircase.

    Then there was a mass hands-behind-back dance-off.

    Then there was a human tunnel that went downstairs and spanned the backstage area.

    Each of these ridiculous, hilarious activities were performed under the guise of acceptance.

    In 2005’s Blink, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the structure of spontaneity that characterises successful improvisational comedy groups.

    One of the most important of the rules that make improv possible, for example, is the idea of agreement, the notion that a very simple way to create a story – or humor – is to have characters accept everything that happens to them.

    […] As  Keith Johnstone, one of the founders of improv theater, writes: “[…] In life, most of us are highly skilled at suppressing action. All the improvisational teacher has to do is reverse this skill and he creates very ‘gifted’ improvisers. Bad improvisers black action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvisers develop action.” (p 114-115)

    dan_deacon_liveAudience acceptance – the willingness to accept the performer’s wild, physical suggestions – is the difference between the average, static, one-way musical performance, and a memorable show that you’ll tell all your friends about.

    Part orator, part evangelist, part electronic composer: the manner in which Deacon successfully fuses music and theatre is brilliant. As a performer, he is entirely convincing: how else would you get 200 people to chase each other around a staircase?

    In a Rave Magazine interview, Deacon states his preference for booking smaller venues. This is presumably because acceptance and social proof – wherein people rely on the actions of others in unfamiliar social contexts – become more difficult to influence as the size of the crowd increases.

    “It’s a rare occasion [when Deacon’s crowd-pumping antics don’t work], but it depends on the audience,” he continues. “The audience is there to have a good time and enjoy themselves. If not, their life sucks.” 
    (can’t find the article online – it’s on page 20 of Rave Magazine issue #880)


    Of course, Deacon’s highly interactive, personal approach to live performances can’t work for every artist or band.

    Nor should it. It wouldn’t be remarkable if everyone did it. Instead, it’d be boring.

    The same way that a purple cow only sticks out because the other cows aren’t purple.

    There’s an excellent Citypaper article here that further discusses Deacon’s live show and how its outlandish nature – which lends itself to being shared online through photo and video – attracts what writer Rjyan Kidwell terms ‘voyeurs’ . Excerpt:

    “As long as the crowds don’t become too rowdy or violent, I’m excited for my audience to grow,” he said. It sounds clear to me that Deacon has big ideas about what can happen when large groups of people get together in one room, but that he expects the audience to trust and commit completely to his leadership if something transcendent is to be achieved. [Citypaper]

  • The Next MySpace for Musicians

    I’ve stopped logging on to MySpace. The only reason I’d continued to check it was to read bulletins posted by bands I enjoy.

    But then the noise became deafening.

    Too much effort for too little reward.

    Processor-intensive Flash ads swarmed my homepage.

    And instead of including bulletin pagination, to allow me to view 25 or 50 or 100 bulletins on a page, they kept with the original model of dividing bulletins into groups of 10. Each page yielded a new set of flashing ads. Awesome.

    But that’s in the past. Bye, MySpace.

    So if you’re a band I listen to or a band who thinks that I might like to listen to you, there’s a question you should be asking yourself. How are you going to connect with me, now?

    How are you going to coerce me to join your tribe?

    Or, more importantly: where is your tribe going to converge?

    I don’t friend bands on Facebook, because Facebook is for human friendships.

    I rarely visit band websites, as I’ve discussed.

    If I don’t visit your Facebook profile or your website, it’s going to be tough to convince me to join your mailing list. And mailing lists aren’t the ideal method for artists to broadcast from, as it’s one-to-one. Not one-to-many like the sense of community you felt when browsing a band’s MySpace profile.

    MySpace succeeded for several years because it provided the tools for musicians to share their craft and assemble a community in a central location.

    But if the community is dispersing, where are they going to meet next?

    Where is the next MySpace for musicians?

    Finding a suitable answer for this question is as important for me, the music fan and critic, as it is for the artists who want me to hear their music.

    I want a central hub to connect with hundreds of artists I admire and enjoy. I want to listen, to follow, to gain an insight into their recording process and international tours and personalities.

    MySpace is no longer the answer. It’s old tech.

    I don’t care about exclusive album streams. I don’t care about digital music store partnerships.

    I just want to know when my favourite artists have recorded new music. When they’re touring. What other people think of their music.

    Twitter is not the answer. Too shallow. When it comes to musicians, it’s a case of too little data spread too thin. I’ll happily read essays on subjects that I’m interested in.

    If you’re a musician, I don’t particularly want to know what you’re doing all day, every day. Just the important stuff. Specific, anticipated, relevant. New music, tours, reviews, videos.

    Again, these kinds of periodic updates could be delivered via mailing list. But I’m not going to go around visiting band websites and joining lists.

    Like I said, this is as important a question for me, the music fan, as it is for the artists and labels.

    Build something remarkable. Something worth sharing. Somewhere worth returning to. And I’ll be there.