Setting up TPO’s “real” mailing list.  

Good God!  This is why I’ve been putting this task off for so long….Well, I will confess that my inveterate propensity to make the perfect the enemy of the good plays a significant role in my procrastination habits – hear, hear!  Just saying, in case anyone was wondering why The Panache Orchestra, being as good as it is, still doesn’t have any significant “fan base”.

Figuring out how all this stuff works, testing it and getting it up and running took all freakin’ day!!  (And for what it’s worth, that’s on top of the endless hours I spent researching this particular endeavor beforehand!)  Good thing it was rainy and cold here in warm, sunny L.A. so our gig in the evening got canceled and we didn’t feel much like going out running around or working in the garden – just some “quality indoor time” to get stuff like this done, do some rigorous rehearsing, further my efforts at figuring out how in the hell to get the 17 tracks we recorded the night before Chi recently went back to Tokyo out of the Zoom recorder and into the computer so I can work with them, etc.  Note that cleaning the house didn’t make the list.  The whole house still smells like a giant litter box and the “office” room looks like a dump truck unloaded in it, but hey, we’re financially-challenged musicians and can’t afford housekeeping help (at least not right now!), so that pain in the ketsu typically hovers near the bottom until an emergency comes up, like somebody comes to visit us.  Man, I’ve been at this mailing list set-up task for nearly three hours now, and feel like I’m even deeper underwater with it!

Oh, for those of you who haven’t read the book (which is probably most of the people reading this blog), according to “Music Success in Nine Weeks”, a band’s newsletter is a key means of communicating with the people who like them enough to sign up for it, and thence is an indispensable promotional tool.

“So what’s the big ordeal?”  Where to begin…well, figuring out which of the myriad programs available would be the best fit for us, for starters.  Ariel Hyatt of www.arielpublicity.com made that easy by recommending Reverb Nation’s FanReach service, and gave numerous compelling reasons why in her wonderful book I am working through called “Music Success in Nine Weeks”.  Nevertheless, I felt compelled to do my homework (did I ever mention that both of my parents and an awful lot of other relatives are teachers?) and research a few programs so I could be sure that Ariel’s recommendation would indeed be the very best match for The Panache Orchestra, as we are no ordinary band.  That took forever because when you’re way old school like me (Chi is so old school he won’t even touch this stuff with a 39 ½ foot pole, and regularly lambastes me for doing so!) and don’t even have the first clue how this stuff functions and what it will do for us, wading through the vast amount of available information and just trying to understand what it all means requires a significant input of brain power, not to mention time.  (Kind of reminds me of the insane amount of back-end administrative work involved in releasing an album!)

Okay, so after much agonizing deliberation, I finally conceded that RN’s FanReach would do for TPO, and reached the point of getting my hands in it, and then of course things quickly went uphill from there:

  1. I opened up our Reverb Nation site (which has been languishing away largely untouched while I scurry about dealing with all the other stuff I’m dealing with), dressed it up a bit (Hey, I learn more about how to work with it each time I do this!); uploaded a track from our “10 Strings” double album to offer as a free download to give to people signing up for our mailing list, which I had wrested Chi’s permission to use for this purpose a couple weeks ago (This particular battle only lasted one day – progress!); was rewarded with a beautiful green clickable icon widgety thing to post on our burgeoning plethora of Panache sites, and tried the “instant post” feature for Myspace.  Shit!  It didn’t work!  Ah well, now I have to figure out how to regenerate that widget, go into our Myspace site and paste the code in by hand, and then repeat for all the other sites.  Hey, at least it gave me a good opportunity to do a little housekeeping with our Myspace (You can view my handiwork here: www.myspace.com/thepanacheorchestra).
  2. Next, when I started trying to load addresses from our pen-and-paper mailing list into the address feeder (or whatever it is), that began to take on a life of its own, and I quickly realized that I would most likely need to set up a brand-new email account especially for tending to our mailing list in order to keep all this information in one tidy place, and that will entail calling customer service at Network Solutions to walk me through it since I can’t even begin to remember how that process works.  That brings up another issue where I have so much trouble with the email addresses connected to our band’s domain name, which gives rise to a lot of wasted time and aggravation having to sort it all out.   Oy…..
  3. This will require getting seriously busy on another daunting task I’ve been putting off all my adult life and is inextricably related to the current one: digitizing my contacts database, which at this point is a vast collection of business cards, Google maps printouts, and various bits and scraps of paper that I recently converted from simply being stuffed randomly in a box to being organized into a series of envelopes labeled with what type of contact they are, i.e., “musicians”, ”friends”, “family”, “household services”, etc., etc.  Hey, at least the electronic database will solve the problem of overlapping categories.   30 minutes a day for the next couple months should make this goal fait accompli in the near-term future.

A little too old school for modern efficiency?

4.  That will also expedite the task of cleaning the office – AGAIN!  Where does all this paper trash come from, anyway??!

Zounds! How the hell does she get anything done in here?!

5.  I knew setting up our newsletter template was going to take on a life of its own.  After some deliberation, I realized the inevitability of having to sign up for the paid subscription service (“FanReach Pro”), because again being the psycho perfectionist that I am, I need full customization ability in order to make the thing look right.  The Panache “brand image” must maintain its integrity, yes?  Turned out that I even had to bust out Photoshop and cobble together a custom banner to get an image that was at least approximately the right shape and size, and it took some doing to find out what that size was (but in the process, I learned that they have some good tutorial videos)!  Egad!  It looks like I’ll also have to find time go to the post office early next week and open a PO box since FanReach requires us to publish a physical address on our newsletter….

But now look!  Goal accomplished:  A shiny new “real” mailing list offering a free download, so I cordially invite interested readers to sign up by visiting www.panacheorchestra.com !

Next task: Figuring out how to integrate my PR efforts into my Facebook page.


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