How Jay Gilbert built his influential Your Morning Coffee empire
Jay Gilbert has worked at all three major music groups at different points in his career. These days, alongside his Label Logic consultancy and music photography side hustle, a primary project is the widely respected Your Morning Coffee newsletter and podcast.
When it comes to disruption, few industries have experienced as much upheaval over the past 20 years as the music industry. The lucrative CD era ended with the rise of Napster, piracy, and the introduction of Apple’s iTunes did little to stem the losses. It’s only within the last decade, with the rise of streaming services like Spotify, that music revenue has begun to recover.
Jay Gilbert had a front-row seat to all of this turmoil, working for companies like Warner Music and Universal Music Groups. He got to know just about every facet of the music-making process. Then in 2015, he struck off on his own and launched a consulting business. To help raise awareness of his services, he began curating a weekly newsletter called Your Morning Coffee.
What started out as an email sent out to a few hundred friends eventually grew to 15,000 readers and is now one of the most influential newsletters in the music industry. In my interview with Jay, we talked about how the newsletter found an audience, its contribution to his consulting business, and why he doesn’t want to scale it into a traditional media company.
Hello, I’m Simon Owens, and this is the Business of Content. The show about how publishers create, distribute, and monetize their digital content. If you want to listen to an audio version of this episode, subscribe to the business of content podcast wherever you get your podcasts. Okay. Onto my interview with Jay.
Simon Owens: Hey, Jay, thanks for joining me.
Jay Gilbert: Yeah, my pleasure. Good to see you.
Simon Owens: So you run an incredibly influential newsletter about the music industry. Let’s start with talking about like how you became knowledgeable about the music industry in the first place. You have a lot of experience working in various different jobs within like labels and stuff like that.
Jay Gilbert: Yeah, I started off as a musician. I used to tour as a musician. I worked at Tower Records and eventually I fell into a career with record labels. I started working for, it was then MCA became Universal. I ended up staying there over 18 years and I learned various departments. I would stay in, you know, sales, marketing, and then later e-commerce and I absolutely loved it.
But that was like being paid to go to school. And then, you know, I worked for Sony Music. My last major label gig was with Warner Music Group. WEA & ADA and I managed Amazon’s business globally for them and it was great, but about eight years ago I decided to kind of strike out on my own and do my own thing.
Simon Owens: So over 20 years you saw the entire transformation of the music industry. You talk about like the kind of golden age of the CD area, which from what I’ve read, was probably the most profitable time in music history. And you saw the post Napster kind of crash, the rise of iTunes, and then finally the rise of streaming services like Spotify.
So you not only worked in various different departments, but you’ve also seen the evolution of the industry of what it is today.
Jay Gilbert: Yeah, and it’s been amazing in such a short period of time. When I was working at record retail, we caught the very tail end of 8-tracks! I remember Van Halen’s Diver Down came out on cassette, 8-track vinyl. And then, you’re right, I remember when CDs first launched, we started selling them in just a small little rack, and then they sort of took over.
And by the time I was at Tower Records, it was mainly a CD business, right? And then, as you just described, working at major labels when CDs were at their peak, which was around 1999, it was like having a license to print money. People were replacing their collections. And it was a fantastic time in the music industry. But then, of course, we had the file trading that came in with Napster and LimeWire and all of that.
But it’s so encouraging now with streaming being 85% of the (US) business, that now there’s some predictability to it. And people are starting to invest in it. And it’s become kind of a new music industry. It’s pretty exciting.
Simon Owens: Yeah. And I don’t know how familiar you are with my work, but I write a lot about the creator economy and stuff like that. But I don’t understand the music business as well as some other media industries. What’s your concept of like how much the businesses transformed but in ways that allow individual music creators to kind of separate themselves from the traditional publishing / label industry?
Is that have they made as many strides of late like video creators or newsletter creators and stuff like that?
Jay Gilbert: Yes and no. It’s easier than ever to create your own music, release your own music and get it up on digital service providers globally that the barrier to entry has dropped significantly, right? So now you have by some reports, about 50,000 tracks uploaded daily. On average. Apple just announced they’ve got over 100 million tracks.
So the challenge now is how do you rise above that clutter? But more importantly, the shelf life of even a great song is so much shorter now. So people are doing new things in this creator economy right there. You know, it’s ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus!’ The songs are shorter. We’ve seen that over the last five years. They get to the chorus quicker, you know, shorter intros. It’s really affected the way that people are recording music and releasing music. The other thing is, it used to be, back when I toured as a musician, you got popular in your city and then your region and hopefully you would get some good reviews, get some radio airplay, maybe get on a tour and you would build your career that way.
Today, you and I could record a song and get it up on SoundCloud right away or get it up on DSPs globally right away. But the problem with that is, and it’s also an opportunity, is that now you’re alongside of Drake, The Chainsmokers and Billie Eilish. So visually we have to compete on that global stage and then our audio has to be at that level as well.
So I think it’s really made it easier for artists to create their art, with some of these new tools. Like with ProTools and with all these loops & beats, sounds, keyboard sounds that you can purchase, standing on the shoulders of giants when it comes to creating the music.
And of course, the pandemic lockdown just exacerbated that. And now there’s this kind of glut of music that’s being released. So it’s really a challenge to grow that fan base. But the bottom line is it has to be great music. I always use this quote by Jonathan Daniel, he says, “If you give me a great song, my job is easy. If you give me a good song, my job is impossible.”
Simon Owens: Mm hmm. And kind of to your point and like, similar to the other parts of the creative economy, it’s like, yeah, it’s like, very easy to start a newsletter. It’s very easy to start a YouTube channel. And, like, you know, it’s just YouTubers alone. The access to the editing and camera tools that they have for not that much money are, you know, well above like, you know, most of the tools that were available even to exactly a professional filmmakers back in the nineties.
So the toolsets are there but it’s the marketing and the and the production and all that kind of stuff are still really hard to do at an individual level, you know, hence we’re, you know, heading into what you did next. You said eight years ago you decided to leave the traditional 9 to 5 and launch your own consulting business.
And I get the sense that this business you launched kind of represents this kind of midway between the creator economy and the traditional label that you broke down all of those individual services. And you could offer those to musicians that have some money to spend because they’re kind of mid-tier, but maybe they don’t want to go with the traditional label.
What was the consulting business that you launched?
Jay Gilbert: Yeah, it’s exactly what you just described. The company is called Label Logic, and I launched it with my partner, Jeff Moskow, who was a VP of marketing when I was at Universal, and we did what you just described. We found that there were a lot of artists that maybe didn’t need the help of a label.
And I’m not going to bash labels. I mean, I worked with labels and they can move mountains, but what they do is they add gasoline to your fire. That’s kind of their superpower. And what we found is that some labels were outsourcing a lot of things. And we noticed management companies started taking over some of those roles and responsibilities, like, you know, hiring a publicist or going after sync licenses and things like that.
There were so many things that labels were outsourcing. So some of these management companies like Howard Kaufman, Jonathan Daniel and Irving Azoff, some of these great artist managers were starting to take over some of those roles and responsibilities. We also saw the lines blurring between the roles of a label, a distributor, a publisher.
Today, you’ll see distributors who are offering advances, which typically was in the realm of a label.
Simon Owens: So a distributor versus a label.
Jay Gilbert: I actually wrote a piece for Hypebot on this because the lines are blurring. Yeah. A distributor, their job is to take your music and get it out to all of the different outlets. And it used to be more physical. Right now, now that it’s primarily streaming, but there still is physical. You know, Amazon still sells a lot of physical, independent retail still sells a lot of physical.
There’s Record Store Day. So a distributor not only distributes your music to all of these different outlets, the DSPs, the retailers, but they have relationships and they have weekly calls typically with them. And there are programs, marketing programs, for example, that you can take advantage of and that they can partner with. They also will pitch your music for playlists within their partnerships.
What I think distribution superpower is, is problem solving. If you have a great distributor… things are going to break and sometimes you’ll upload an album and it might be missing a track or the metadata might be wrong or it may have gone up at the wrong time or wrong day. A good distributor, you can call them and they can solve those problems for you.
So, you know, a lot of distributors have their own in-house sync teams, which can help you, but they have a big knowledge base and they’ve got relationships. And typically they’re global. So that’s distribution.
Now on the label side, they’re going to help you with your repertoire. They may help you to record it, to help you arrange it. They may help get you a producer, an engineer. No one knows the narrative and the goal of your release better than the artist, manager and label. And if you get that team together, it can be really powerful.
Simon Owens: And so when you launched this consulting company, who was your typical client?
Jay Gilbert: We started off with people that we had long term relationships with, like Doc McGhee, who manages KISS. At that time he had a stable of maybe 15- 20 artists. We started with some of these heritage acts, although he had some developing acts too. And what we found really quickly is we really loved what we were doing.
Number one, we could actually act as the label for some of his acts, which we did. And if we needed a publicist, there are a lot of great publicists out there. We would outsource a publicist. If we needed an online marketing campaign, we could trigger that campaign. So we started taking over roles and responsibilities that typically a label would do, but not a distributor.
We would partner with other distributors like Symphonic out of Nashville or Ingrooves out of Los Angeles. They’re part of the universal Family. And we found that because we had that experience working with labels, we could speak their language and we could work with them. So that’s how it started. But then we started to consult for data platforms and other kinds of businesses that are ancillary to the music industry.
I think where we do our best work is either with… let’s say someone is acquiring a catalog. Well, now what do I do with that? I know by looking at the projections from Goldman Sachs or Mark Mulligan from MIDiA, I kind of got a sense of where streaming is going in the next ten years. But how do I do better than that? How do I overperform that? Well, we look at all aspects of the business, you know, experiences, merch, touring, the sync that we talked about, we put together marketing plans for that. So that’s kind of how it’s evolved over time.
Simon Owens: And that’s like a trend that’s going on in the music industry. Now that these back catalogs have been tremendous, you know, lucrative, these hedge funds and private equity funds and stuff are buying up the rights to these (catalogs). And yeah, it’s like passive income as people stream it on like Spotify. But then it’s like maybe it’s this IP is under-leveraged.
Let’s get it into movies and television shows, let’s test t shirts. And so you get a hedge fund coming to you and it’s like, All right, how do we take this all this IP we own and start diversifying the revenue and make it like basically generate more than whatever our investment was?
Jay Gilbert: That’s right. And there are some key players in the space, people like Hipgnosis, KKR, BMG and Primary Wave. Those are kind of the ones that are getting the headlines. But there are a lot of other folks that are purchasing either the masters, the publishing, name and likeness. They’re doing a lot of this and they’ll bring us in to help them exploit their investments. I mean that in the best possible way.
I will say that it has cooled down. There have been a couple of really good articles recently that I cover in my newsletter, Your Morning Coffee, about how this whole gold rush is calmed down and now they are fewer and farther between when it comes to some of these larger acquisitions of, let’s say, Bob Dylan’s catalog or whatever.
And then you’ve got companies that do this in-house. If you look at Irving Azoff ‘s Iconic Company and he’s got this new Giant records relaunching. They have, let’s say, the Don Henley catalog. But instead of hiring somebody like us, they’re hiring people in-house to make short-form videos and social media… they’ll have their own in-house publicist. But I would say they’re an anomaly. Most of these companies well, all of these companies have staffers, but a lot of them need help. They need an extra set of hands.
Simon Owens: So when did you start thinking about adding a newsletter into the mix?
Jay Gilbert: It was a happy accident. I had left Warner Music Group and I was trying to decide what I wanted to do next. I got an email from my friend Sean Rutkowski, who was the head of sales for ADA, and he had left ADA and he was thinking about what he wanted to do next.
He ended up running a pressing plant and doing some other really interesting things. But at that point, he was contemplating his next move and he sent out an email to, I don’t know, a hundred, 200 people, and I was copied on it. It listed ten albums that he really loved. And Sean and I have very similar tastes and music. As I’m listening to the music that he had sent over, I noticed there were a lot of people copied on the email. So I, I sent him a note saying, “This is really interesting, but why are you doing this?” And he said, “I don’t want people to forget me.” And I thought, That’s smart. So I thought, what do I love or do I have a passion for? Well, it’s technology and music. So I started this little newsletter called Your Morning Coffee, and I sent it to a couple hundred people in my contacts, which you’re not supposed to do! You should really have permission first. But I noticed that people were not unsubscribing and the list started growing. And I can see through MailChimp, who was subscribing.
I noticed artist managers, people working at labels. It’s just a curated look at the new music business. Every week I’ll take a dozen or so stories and those will be the first section and then, the ‘second cup’ section is kind of line-enlisted. It’s grown now to well over 15,000 readers and it just continues to grow.
I’ve gotten really great clients from it. I’ve had really great conversations from it. It wasn’t intended to get me clients, but one of the most joyful parts for me is the people that write these stories that I’m covering every week, now we’re friends! I’ve gotten to know them over the years.
Analysts, you know, like Cherie Hu or Glen Peoples over at Billboard. Glen and I now do a podcast together (Behind The Setlist). So it’s just really enriched my life in so many different ways, curating this this newsletter.
N we have a podcast where we, we talk about some of those stories. It’s really helped me understand it because I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but I’m the most curious. And so when we have a story that comes across all call people within the industry and either invite them on to talk about it or just ask them, What does this mean?
You know, am I getting this right? And I’ve just I’ve learned so much by doing that. And the last thing I’ll say on it is this music industry has changed while you and I have been having this conversation! So anybody who tells you they’ve got all of this down, you know, with Web3 and Daos, NFTs, this evolving music industry, they’re either naive or they’re lying because it’s it’s so dynamic and it’s changing almost hourly.
Simon Owens: And so you launched eight years ago and it’s a weekly newsletter.
Jay Gilbert: Yep. It comes out at five in the morning every Friday, and then the podcast drops each Monday morning.
Simon Owens: And it’s very, as you mentioned, curation or you don’t really do any kind of much or other than like small blurbs. You don’t write like a column or do any kind of analysis or anything like that, right?
Jay Gilbert: I do, but very rarely. I write about six pieces a year. I was mentioning one that I wrote for Bruce Houghton over Hypebot, but just explaining today what the different roles and responsibilities are between a label and a distributor, for example. So every once in a while I’ll jump in and write a piece. But typically, you’re right, it’s basically blurbs and it’s designed in a way so if you’re a busy person and you don’t read a lot, you’re about to get on a plane or whatever it is, you can look at your morning coffee and there’s a paragraph about each one of those stories. So if you don’t have time to read all of those stories, you can kind of get a sense of what’s going on.
And if there’s something that really piques your interest, then you can dig a little deeper.
Yeah. You know, I wonder, so you started with like 100 or 200 of your personal contacts. Yeah, probably pretty influential people considering your decades of experience. So that’s a great seeding mechanism if you already have the contacts there. I don’t think it’s too bad if you as long as you’re. I don’t like when newsletters add me randomly to their list, but I get less offended if it’s like someone who’s like I closely interact with on a regular basis or something like that. It’s just like a small number at first. So I think that can be somewhat, you know, forgiven. But how did it grow from there? Like, you know, you because you don’t have like an anchor editorial product that’s like a like a column or analysis that’s like meant to go viral on social media or be shared.
You know, how did how did it grow to 15,000 people in terms of if you’re just curating information?
Jay Gilbert: There were a few ways that I saw it really grow. One is I do a lot of work with colleges, and I speak pretty regularly; CSU, USC. UCLA, Hofstra, UC Denver. I noticed that when I did guest lectures that (the audience) would spike because a lot of the students would subscribe and maybe they would tell other students about it.
That certainly helped. Also, I do a lot of work with conferences. I’m doing a panel at music tectonics and in a couple of weeks on data and A&R, I did a panel at AmericanaFest. I did a panel at Music Business Association. And when you do those panels, you tend to see spikes. But so much of it is word of mouth.
The other thing that I’ve found that’s been really helpful is by doing the podcast, you can kind of cross-pollinate those audiences. I’ve noticed that sometimes these really great outlets like Symphonic, they hasve this great blog and once in a while they’ll run a piece mentioning Your Morning Coffee is one of the top podcasts to listen to in the music business. Well, then that goes out to their audience and it spikes. So we’ve had some pretty decent press either about us or about our company or about the newsletter, and that tends to help.
Simon Owens: Since you’re a free agent to like, label executives probably have to be tight-lipped with the media that you’re probably a favorite of journalists who are writing about tech, tech issues within the industry. And so they just say, Jay Gilbert from your morning coffee newsletter or something like that, sent you an interview and stuff like that.
Jay Gilbert: That’s exactly right. And it’s so it’s all of this kind of cross-pollination going on. But I think most of it is word of mouth because I watch the numbers each week grow and you’ll see it happen where I did a little work with Spotify on Spotify for artists, and I noticed that because of those meetings that I got more subscribers at Spotify, for example.
So I watched data really carefully. But I think that with with growing an audience, we’ve tried some targeted online ads and they were they were just okay. it’s such a specialized thing when you talk about technology. So I had this company called Zeta Global. They have information on like 200 million Americans. I had them do a deep dive analysis on my audience for the newsletter and podcast. I was really surprised how heavily it was affluent males in major music markets because I speak with so many students, and I speak with so many females. But it was really kind of shocking to see how much it leaned that way. And we did one podcast episode where we had Nancy Wilson from Heart come on and talk about her new album, and that was it was her first solo album ever. I’m a huge Heart fan. Bit that was our lowest number of any of our podcasts. And we realized people aren’t tuning in for entertainment. They want to know what’s going on with the Music Modernization Act. They want to know about the Copyright Royalty Board. They want to know what’s going on. And so it’s primarily professionals in the industry we’re finding.
Simon Owens: Yeah, there are a million podcasts out there that interview famous musicians like that’s not your differentiating factor there. And I feel like there’s a podcast that I listen to where they just haven’t figured that out. Like, you know, there’s a media podcast I really like, but lately he’s trying to become like more broad and is interviewing like stars and stuff like that.
It’s like, Yeah, I listen to you because I want to hear from media executives like it’s a niche thing. So you when did you launch the podcast?
Jay Gilbert: About two years ago. I do that with Mike Etchart from Sound & Vision Radio. It’s just been a joy. The episode that got the most listeners was we did a special bonus episode where we interviewed Merck Mercuriadis from Hipgnosis and our numbers just spiked. It was crazy. And then we did one other special episode for our 100th episode. We had Will Page on and for those that don’t know Will Page, he has an amazing book called Tarzan Economics, which is brilliant. He was Spotify’s chief economist. Brilliant guy. And he has a podcast called Bubble Trouble that I never miss.
Anyway, we had him on and our numbers spiked because he’s in the industry. He’s very respected and so is Merck Mercuriadis.
We don’t have guests very often. We’ve only had three in our first 100 episodes, but we do what we call audio drops where, if a story comes out and we don’t quite understand it or we want some expert opinion, we’ll call, someone… Chris Castle from Music Technology policy or Glenn Peoples from Billboard.
A couple of weeks ago we had someone on from Apple and we asked them what does this mean? And we’ll drop in maybe two, three, four minutes of them answering without having a full on Q&A.
Simon Owens: And what are the synergies that you notice between the podcasts and the newsletter?
Jay Gilbert: It’s really interesting that one will feed the other. You know, there are people that will say to me, “oh, I’ve been listening to your podcast, I just started reading your newsletter” and vice versa. So hopefully they continue to feed each other. In every newsletter I put in a block that says, “Here’s our podcast from last week.” So the newsletter readers are seeing it. And then in the intro of the podcast, Mike always says, “Jay curates your morning coffee and you should subscribe, It’s free” that sort of thing. So it’s kind of nice that they sort of feed each other. And when I do those speaking engagements and things like that, I can promote them both.
Simon Owens: Yeah, that’s one thing I’m not very good at is, I always plug the podcast into a newsletter, but I don’t do enough to I don’t speak enough on the podcast about my newsletter. I used to have more consistent plugs for it, but I kind of haven’t really been making that a priority lately.
Jay Gilbert: You know, one thing you can do you might want to think about doing is something that we just tried and it was wildly successful, was we love, let’s say Dan Runcie has Trapital, right? It’s all about the world of hip hop. If you want to know about it, he has the best guests on and his podcast and newsletter are amazing.
So we did a cross-promotion where we told our audience about Trapital and then he told his audience about your morning coffee. So there sometimes you can stand on the shoulders of giants and do what we call base-swapping, share what you’re doing with the your morning coffee audience, for example, and vice versa.
Simon Owens: Yeah, almost like a collaboration. So you said that your original motivation was so that people wouldn’t forget about you. And my guess is it’s like the main monetization. Maybe even still today is it’s a form of like soft lead generation. Like you’re not like doing any hard pitching, like come hire me. But because people are seeing you as an expert and they might get curious and look at your website or whatever they say, Oh, that’s for Percy’s services.
And so they become clients through that. But what are some of the. So you’ve also introduced a few other ways of monetizing what other ways to monetize the newsletter podcast.
Jay Gilbert: Well, we have advertising and that generates some revenue. And listen, I, I never dreamed when I started this newsletter that people would be calling me to want to advertise in it, but we’re really super selective. We’re not going to advertise for Campbell’s Soup. The ads that we pick are companies that we trust, that we use and that we know.
We want to do that because it’s not really our main gig. We all have our day jobs and I have my consultancy, but I found that what you mentioned, yes, it does help with some lead generation. And we have gotten some amazing clients that way. But I think more importantly, it’s given us a seat at the table.
So now we go in and meet with labels, distributors and brands. I became part of an artist management collective. I have people who will call me just to have a conversation. Some of my heroes growing up in the business, I’ve been able to go and have coffee with.
I had a lunch last week with this this man who’s running this powerful label. He wanted to go out to lunch just to have the conversation. “Where do you think the industry’s going? What’s happening with some of these different platforms like TikTok, Twitch? And I love having those conversation. I think it raises our profile as a consultancy and sometimes they give us business.
Simon Owens: But in terms of the advertising, you haven’t really formalized the ad process at all. Like you don’t have an ad sales person or even really a call to action anywhere. Like if you want to thinking of becoming an advertiser, here’s a landing page for the four hour media kidt or whatever.
Jay Gilbert: That’s right.
Simon Owens: What are the kind of advertisers that you’ve been getting?
Jay Gilbert: We have things like the regular ones or Bandzoogle, which you know, I use it I built our site with Bandzoogle, you know, it’s an easy to use platform made. It’s by musicians built for musicians. So it’s super easy to build a website or EPK for your music. So that fits right in line with what we’re doing.
Hypebot is a sponsor and I have a great deal of respect for Bruce Houghton and Alanna Bonilla and the team over there and they’re now part of the whole company that owns Bandsintown. So Bandsintown is, you know, everybody knows Bandsintown. That app that looks at your music library and says, Oh, guess what? The Accidentals are coming to town in a couple of weeks. You can buy tickets right here. But what a lot of people don’t realize that they’ve got 65 million users and you can go in there and let’s say you have a new release coming out and you know that fans of another band would enjoy it. You can actually target those fans with targeted online, no, it’s not an ad, it’s an actual email.
But you can find out who your track, not who your trackers are, but how many you have and you can market directly to them for free. So it’s a really great tool and something we use.
We also do things with the Recording Academy. We do things with the Music Business Association once a month. That’s another one of those base-swapping things.
Once a month, the Music Business Association will send out kind of my month recap of Your Morning Coffee. It’s kind of like a greatest hits of the month. So in their email that goes out to all of their members, there’s it looks almost like an ad in their email that says Your Morning Coffee. And you can click on that and read kind of this monthly recap that I do for them.
Simon Owens: And like because you only have really 50 ad slots a year, that’s not much inventory, is it? Just like, you really could sell just ten ads at a time and then you only have to find five advertisers. Is that kind of like what the deals are striking like a three months worth of ad slots or something like that.
Jay Gilbert: Yeah. And those advertisers that I just mentioned have been on for years, they just keep renewing and we turn away a lot of advertising because, number one, I don’t want the newsletter to be just packed full of ads. It’s always annoying when I get a newsletter or I go to a website and it’s so challenging to get through all of the noise to get to what I want.
And since it’s not my primary revenue source, I can afford to do that to just take on at any given time. There’s probably only three or four ads. But remember, we have two vehicles, we have the newsletter and we have the podcast. So you know, we can do both If they want or they can choose one or the other.
Simon Owens: How do you interact with your audience? We’re seeing more and more of these newsletters launch things like Slack Communities or Discord communities or Facebook groups, and that can be a little bit of allowing our audience to interact with each other, interact with you. A lot of newsletter creators I talked to talk about the reply button and how often people will hit that reply button and then start a conversation with you directly.
How do you think about that at all in terms of like how to create like a community?
Jay Gilbert: Yeah, we have a Facebook group, but what I’m finding is, it comes down to something that my grandfather used to tell me; “An idiot is someone who doesn’t know what you just found out.!” That’s the music industry. People are afraid to voice a question some time in a public forum for fear of looking stupid.
So I get a lot of direct messages, executives reaching out to me for coaching. I had one executive at a major DSP that was moving from one area into music. He wanted to have weekly calls to basically go through every story (in Your Morning Coffee) to talk through what they mean. I had him as a client for two years.
So a lot of what getting is really direct, personal. Hey, can you talk about this thing? Can you come in and talk to my team? That’s one of the ways that I got to know Doc McGhee. I would go over and address his interns every year when I was at Universal to explain to them what was going on in the music industry.
And I really love doing that. So what I did is I’ve created this thing we call the Your Morning Coffee Roadshow. It’s about a 50 page deck and it’s on version 40 or something because it’s always changing. And I take this roadshow, this presentation into a management company and speak to their interns like I did last week.
I just did a Zoom call with a couple of artist managers, and we walked through it. It covers every aspect of this new music business, what’s changed, what are some of the new platforms and tactics for growing in audience. What are the things that you can do to optimize, not game, the system, but optimize for platforms like YouTube and the DSPs.
There are things that you can do to partner with DSPs. They have ways to optimize that you may or may not be doing. So we find that we’ll do that for free.
We do that at colleges, we do that for management companies and that’s really grown our subscriber base, but also some of our clients as well. But to get back to your original question, other than the Facebook group, most of kind of the interaction is happening via, you know, people posting on socials.
Jay Gilbert: Some of these LinkedIn groups have been really great with having conversations and growing that base.
Simon Owens: Outside of the Facebook group. Do you have much of a social media strategy Like I looked, it looks like you’re tweeting out links to the newsletter, but you’re not. That’s it. Like super active there. Do you have much of a social media strategy or most of your efforts are just on a newsletter? In the podcast?
Jay Gilbert: We’ve tried some things out on social media and what we found is that really LinkedIn has been so great at continuing the conversation and growing the audience with social media. We have seen some growth and we’ve done some campaigns that we’ve tested. As you probably know, when you’re posting a link on a social platform, you’re going to get dropped because of the algorithm.
They don’t want you going somewhere else, right? So if you pay for targeted online advertising, yeah, you can you can reach an audience. But what I found is because it’s so niche, you know, learning about what’s going on in the music business isn’t millions and millions and millions of people. It’s a very small community, so where I think we’re reaching that with things like LinkedIn and these other methods. It hasn’t really helped us as much on our socials. So we really only will tweet and do a little bit on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Simon Owens: Is it just like your own personal profile with your personal connections and you’re just what? Kind of just plugging the newsletter and maybe writing a little bit of copy?
Jay Gilbert: That’s what we do. And then we get so much interaction, whether it’s publicly facing or just via LinkedIn. Instant messaging I would sa yis probably the main conversation going on via LinkedIn. It seems like it just keeps growing and growing because again, this is targeted for people, primarily professionals, that want to learn more about the evolution of this new music business. And those professionals are on LinkedIn.
Simon Owens: Yeah, I have like 65,000 followers on LinkedIn.
Jay Gilbert: That’s amazing.
Simon Owens: They plug into some recommendation algorithm or something, but I still feel like I haven’t really cracked it in terms of what I post, you know, links. I do lots of news roundups, curation, industry news. And so every now and then a post will get a decent reaction. I think one of their editors will pull it into some trendy news tab or something like that. But I get a lot less engagement on LinkedIn than you would think, considering I’m kind of a B2B writer.
Jay Gilbert: I see a lot of your stuff via LinkedIn and REDEF; viewers and listeners that are familiar with REDEF see things. We will get picked up there for some of our podcasts and so on. And whenever that happens, we see really large spikes.
Simon Owens: What’s his name? Jason Hirschhorn? He likes me sometimes. So, so like media businesses, they’re thought of as being more scalable than consulting services.
Do you ever want to pivot a little bit more and focus more on scaling the media side of your company? Or is that just not an interest for you?
Jay Gilbert: No, I’ve got to be honest with you, the last ten years have been the most enjoyable of my entire career. I’ve been blessed to work with some great record companies, great artists and managers. I’ve got to work with all of my heroes. But what’s happened in the last ten years was really organic and it’s mine, you know what I mean?
It’s mine and my business partner’s, we built this from the ground up and I can’t wait to get to my desk every morning. I love the conversations that I’m having. I’m learning and just having a lot of fun. I don’t know if I want to necessarily scale that. We’ve had people come to us and talk about maybe potentially acquiring us or having us be a part of another thing. I’m not ready to do that yet because I’ve seen friends of mine whose companies were acquired! Some of them were killed after they were acquired. You know, the whole catch and kill thing. Some of them, they were advisors for a couple of years then they were gone. And I’m just having too much fun right now to do that.
Simon Owens: What’s your tech stack like that, Not just sending your newsletter but any kind of tech tools you use that make your process every week easier.
Jay Gilbert: Oh, that’s a good question. I love looking at the data and I know it scares people, but it’s really important to look at the data.
I consult for a company called VIBERATE, which is an amazing platform . You can see the trends on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, your streaming, all of that. But more importantly, you can see real engagement.
They put a graph there so you can see if someone’s trying to game the system using bots and spin farms or they’re trying to buy spins, likes, follows that sort of thing. You can kind of see that pretty easily. So I use that every single day.
I love MailChimp because it gives me real insights on how my audience is reacting to what we’re doing. I can see which stories are resonating with them, and I think it’s good to kind of know what’s going on in that regard.
There’s so many great tools now with, you know, Spotify for artists, Apple Music for artists. You know, they’re launching SoundCloud for artists. So you can grab all these insights. YouTube gives us such great data on the back end.
You can see, for example. You get paid (from YouTube) on that 30-second mark. So they have a line in the graph so you can see how your viewership is dropping. By the time you get to 30 seconds, you’ve lost a quarter of your audience a lot of times, insights like that.
But there are also a lot of tools like I’m really curious about, what other people are writing about the music industry and what I can learn about that.
So there are all sorts of places I go to learn about music news and there are a lot of platforms that we use every single day, either to get data or to grow the audience. And I think the last thing I’ll say on it is there are so many of these really cool platforms, like Rise.la, you have things like Tone Den and found.ee Show.co, these different really cool platforms where inexpensively, you can target an audience and and grow them.
Simon Owens: Well gee, those were all the questions I have for you. Where can people find you online?
Jay Gilbert:Thank you so much. It’s the easiest URL to remember; It’s www.morning.coffee. You can go there and sign up for the newsletter or the podcast. You can reach us there. My consultancy platform is called Label Logic. Visit our website to see clients that we’ve worked with, testimonials and kind of get a sense of what we do.
But yeah, thank you for that. And if anybody has any further comments or questions, reach out any time.
Simon Owens: All right. Well, this is a lot of fun. Thanks for joining me.