We took a break, but now we're back...

Last year we took a break from the newsletter and podcast because I had big plans to revamp our website and podcast. I also wanted to fix a lot of oversights we made in terms of SEO, Tagging, Meta-Descriptions, Keywords, Optimized Photos - etc., etc.

I've been blogging in some form or another since 2003 - 20 years now - and it has gotten more complicated every year. You used to just write your thoughts and hit "publish." People who liked your content would come to your website to read it. When I started my blog, Rachelandthecity, people who read it told me they would come to my site twice a day to see if I had written something new. I, too, had several blogs that I visited 2 to 3 times daily, thirsting for new content from them. Of course, social media changed those habits forever.

Anyway, I knew we were producing good content on Sweetheart Pub, but since that content needed to be optimized correctly, we were not getting the traffic that made it worth creating all of this content in the first place.

But I had the plan to correct the things I initially overlooked due to time constraints and lack of interest. I knew exactly what needed to be done to make the corrections, and I knew how to do it. My failure was only in the execution of my plans. I put the work off when business was busy, to focus on my clients. When business was slow, I put it off to focus on myself.

This reminds me of an important lesson I learned in 2013 during my time at Seed Hatchery, a start-up accelerator and mentorship-driven seed fund and 90-day program to help companies improve their offerings and business model. Out of thousands of applicants, my partner and I were part of 6 teams given $15k and 90 days to get our business ideas up and off the ground. While part of the program, we went to tins of networking events and were given the opportunity to mix and mingle with the city's top business leaders and consultants. One issue that came up a lot early on was the founders in the program talking about how they were hesitant to thoroughly discuss their ideas and plans with people because they thought they might steal them.

That idea was shot down pretty quickly by the leaders of the cohort. This is the lesson I learned:

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has them. Lots of people have great ideas. You probably know people that are always telling you about theirs - or maybe that person is you.

But ideas are only meaningful with execution. It's the implementation that brings an idea to life. Having ideas is easy. Bringing them to life is the hard part. It's the actual work part.

Mega Corporations like Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Tesla, Paypal, Google, etc, started as an idea that one of the founders had. Still, they would be nothing without the workers implementing the idea. This isn't a new concept - just read Marx.

This brings me to Beyonce (how the hell is she going to use all this to talk about Beyonce???).

She never wins AOTY - because she is an idea person, not an implementor. Or, more simply put, she's not a musician.

Now, I am not taking anything away from Beyonce - an amazing artist whose music I love. But she can only make an album with the help of others.

Look at the last decade's winners of Album of the Year: John Baptiste, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves, Beck, Daft Punk, Mumford and Sons, Arcade Fire - all of these folks are musicians, not just singers/entertainers. They might choose to work with producers and collaborators but could each make an album without help from anyone. Even Adele plays guitar, writes most of her songs, and is credited as contributing celesta, bass, and the cowbell on her albums.

By contrast, Renaissance has 104 credited songwriters (including Beyonce herself), for a total of 170 songwriting credits (since several songwriters work on multiple tracks). With 16 songs, that's an average of 10.6 credited songwriters per track.

So giving that album the Grammy for AOTY, which is voted on primarily by other musicians, would have received just as much, if not more, negative backlash. It would definitely have made the number of people that worked on it a way bigger deal. Is it a fair competition when you have access to the VERY best people to execute your idea?
Plus, her not winning definitely does not mean she is not beloved by the Grammys; she has the most wins of all time. There is really nothing to complain about here.

Anyway, back to Sweetheart. I finally had to have a heart-to-heart with myself. No one is going to execute my ideas other than me. My two choices were to abandon them or buckle down and turn them into reality.

No one is coming to save me. Or you.

In the last year, I've become much more bearish on the publicity state. I am working with fewer clients than ever. Not because I have fewer people reaching out to hire me but because the market is so saturated, I'm receiving fewer and fewer records that excite me. Ones that I can feel good about pitching and telling people - you need to hear this.

I could easily just take on clients with "good" but not "fantastic" albums and run them through the PR factory line, but that just turns me into an administrative assistant or data clerk. If I am not genuinely excited about an album, how in the hell can I get other people excited?

And there still is a significant delineation between people with good albums that can afford PR and people with excellent albums that can't.
In the past 6 months, I've lost 2 of my biggest clients because they decide to sign with a label for their following albums. I can't think of another profession in which when you do a great job on a campaign, you might lose the client.

All this to say, I decided to move forward with my ideas for making Sweetheart's content better and more focused on helping musicians who feel like outsiders. The ones who don't get invited to the party because of lack of access. The ones who don't know where to start in turning their musical talents into a career.

I've always been fearless of sharing knowledge because, just like ideas, it's only valuable if someone uses it to execute. I can tell a client exactly what they should do and back it with 30 years of experience and expertise - but if they cannot implement the insight, it doesn't really matter in the end.

I've said this so many times - it's not talent that makes you successful: It's work ethic. When mine is on point, my wins shoot up dramatically. When I'm in a less productive period, my successes are fewer and farther between. Nothing changed out in the world; I changed.

If you ever wonder why someone has so much success when you think they clearly lack talent - that's usually the answer.

So how will I be able to turn giving away all this knowledge into an income? I'm not sure yet.

Let's find out together.


P.S. We are closing our Substack account and this newsletter will now be free for everyone.

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Rachel Hurley and Frank Keith IV