What Facebook Armageddon and YouTube Adpocalypse Taught Me About My Email List

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This just in: Facebook says they aren’t going to decimate your band Page’s reach, after all.  Do you really need another memo?

People have been bitching about Facebook for years.  But that’s a huge waste of energy.

I’ve seen a famous comedian ask a Facebook executive why he couldn’t reach his own fans after spending years accumulating them.  It happened at a conference in LA a few years ago.  After getting some corporate-speak response about ‘constantly evolving to better reach our users,’ the comedian kept trying to get an actual answer.

He never really got it.  Or maybe he didn’t want to hear what the Facebook exec was really saying.

Maybe Facebook made it into one of his skits.  But the joke is still on him.  Because Facebook has never, ever cared about how well your Page is connecting with your fans.  It’s always been about keeping Facebook users the most engaged, and driving the most advertising off of that engagement.


So yeah, it sucks that you spent years accumulating fans and then lost access to them.  But that’s not Facebook’s problem.

We’ve seen entire companies wiped out — overnight — by unexpected Facebook changes.

Here in the music industry, investors lost millions on BandPage, because their entire model revolved around Facebook tabs (which got killed).  They lost 90% of their traffic in about 2-3 months.

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Interactions on the 60 largest Slovakian Pages following Facebook’s shift to ‘Explore Feed’

Fast-forward to this month, and everyone’s freaking out about their Page reach getting decimated.  It’s the latest episode of ‘Facebook Armageddon’.

You see, Facebook is experimenting with a new plan that would completely remove your ability to reach fans that follow your Page.  That is, unless you pay to reach them.

This isn’t just based on some errant speculation.  The tests on this are happening right now.  Specifically in the countries of Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia.  In those countries, Pages are getting re-routed from the News Feed and thrown into a separate ‘Explore Feed’.

The Explore Feed is hard to find.  Especially since nobody is looking for it.  Which might explain why some publishers are suddenly losing 60-80 percent of their traffic, overnight (see above).  We’re not sure how bands are faring.

+ “Biggest drop in Facebook organic reach we have ever seen

Facebook says they’re not going to expand this idea to the rest of the world.  At least for now.  But it’s just a matter of time before another change punishes bands, publications, companies or anyone else whose models rely too heavily on Facebook traffic.  Or, hey —maybe benefits them.

And the same principle applies for YouTube.

Maybe the difference with YouTube is that most artists realize it’s a crappy platform to begin with.  The payouts suck, unless you can somehow scale in the mega-millions of views – consistently.  Which might explain why some of the biggest artists in the world are figuring out how to work around this platform.

How Post Malone Stuck It to YouTube, Got a #1 Hit, and Cashed a Big Fat Check

But YouTube content creators live-and-die at the whim of YouTube’s ad policies.  Some of YouTube’s biggest personalities got stung really hard by YouTube’s ‘Adpocalypse,’ even if they didn’t deserve it.  Because in the end, these people don’t control their channels — YouTube does.

My Song Got 1.254 Million Views on YouTube. I Got Paid $42.56

But there’s one channel that isn’t changing: email.

In fact, it’s gotten better over the years.  Actually, you can thank Google for cleaning up a lot of the spam issues that were making email unusable.  Wildly successful companies like MailChimp also propelled the format forward.

But nobody really controls email.  Your email addresses are yours.  And subscribers now have more control than ever over their in-boxes, thanks to more uniform unsubscribe and anti-spam rules.

There’s also a really great chance your emails are actually reaching your subscribers.  And if Mailchimp decides to radically change their rules, you can take your list somewhere else.

All of which might explain why one of the music industry’s most influential analysts is on email.  Yeah, Bob Lefsetz isn’t dishing on some Facebook account.  He’s not a YouTube personality.

He’s emailing you — in ascii format, no less.

I think Lefsetz was even blasting from an @aol.com account until recently.  All of which goes to show that email is still one of the most reliable ways to reach your followers — twenty years later.



7 Responses

  1. so

    Reconsider this one:

    Actually, you can thank Google for cleaning up a lot of the spam issues that were making email unusable.

    Good luck getting a Gmail user to see a newsletter these days.

    • TheDude

      I use gmail and get about 20 emails a day from my subscriptions – no problem at all

  2. Anonymous

    I often think of what a spokesperson from the possibly still non-existing RepX said a while back here in your comment section:

    Don’t rely on a services like Facebook and Twitter — build your own site instead.

    I didn’t want to hear it, but it’s really true. All these services get more and more creepy and depressingly less useful day by day. (Today, in fact, Facebook announced it’s going to dox a lot of its own advertisers, and Twitter released a similar statement earlier this week. That, of course, in addition to the rampant and constantly increasing demonetization and censorship on YouTube.)

    And yes, though email is censored and limited in lots of ways, it’s still a somewhat robust solution — as long as it isn’t Gmail. Your .gmail.com-addresses are most certainly not yours; you can lose them along with all your content without notice any day, and you’re delusional if you think Google won’t do to Gmail what they did to YouTube, or invent a new and even better way of screwing you, because that’s what they do, and nobody does it better.

    So yeah, I tend to agree that email may be the future, not the past. But as the RepX-person said, you need your own domain. Nobody can take that away, unless you’re doing something really, really stupid.

    • TheDude

      You’re right – if you’re not paying for gmail, then they can control what you get delivered. However possible it is, it’s not probable. Their business model depends on people using gmail without issue – they sell your info. Why would they restrict that?

      Any band/musician should have their own domain, and PAY for an email service that they control. You can go cheap, but cheap often means short lived. Pay for services from companies that have been around and will be around.

  3. Leftshitz

    What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where artists let somebody else control their destiny? Whether it be a record label, outside songwriters, Facebook, Twitter, etc?

    Yes, that would be “most artists”. Because most artists are stupid and lazy. Sign away your life on a record or management contract then complain about not getting paid. Put all your eggs in the hands of Mark Fucking Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey or Susan Wojcicki and wonder why they restrict access to your fans and demonetize everything you post.

    • Anonymous

      “Put all your eggs in the hands of Mark Fucking Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey or Susan Wojcicki and wonder why they restrict access to your fans and demonetize everything you post.”

      Or any eggs at all, you might argue. Okay, Twitter’s still kind of nice, at least compared to the two disasters you mention. But still… I’d really, really like to quit all three ‘services.’

      Only thing is, guess what happens if we all quit? Google will make us invisible!

      Which means we’ll have to rely on old media again if we want anybody to find us.

      But perhaps that’s our best shot, after all…

  4. Reality

    The ungrateful ignorance of some people who think FB and YT didn’t already do enough by offering a free service to use. And you would actually compare what they offer you to a paid MailChimp account? Ridiculous. If you are smart enough to invest in your business then you already know to do so and not depend solely on free services. If you didn’t know this or worse, refuse to do so, then you have no future as an entrepreneur.