A couple months ago, I attended a digital marketing summit in Seattle. It was very hip. Among the presenters were leading social-media experts, award-winning corporate storytellers and cutting-edge email marketers. Steve Wozniak gave the keynote.

Outside the lecture hall, there was a loop of exhibitors from companies like MailChimp, Intel, Email on Acid, Emma, SproutSocial, Marketo and many others. Each company gave away fun tchotchkes, or swag, and staffed their booths with hipster Millennials who were all armed with the latest uber-vague, buzzword-infused sales speak.

I am a sucker for swag. (As I write this very article, I am sipping coffee out of my Marketo mug and am placing it back onto my Email on Acid coaster). This love for free swag often gets me into trouble at trade shows and conferences. Booth staffers smell blood in the water and latch onto me like one of those sharks on Planet Earth. Before I know it, I’ve spent 20 minutes at the booth. I’ve handed over business cards, I’ve taken corporate literature. I’ve even watched a demo of their innovative new product that promises to relieve all my burning pain points.

It was during one of these demos when I started thinking about Behind the Setlist.

This company, let’s call them Sozial (feel free to buy the domain name while it lasts), showed me how great their new social media management tool is with an in-depth demo.

“So it’s like Hootsuite?” I asked.

“Like Hootsuite, yes. In concept. But so completely different. And much more powerful!”

“And it’s different how?”

“Well, we have a vertical feed,” the salesman explained. “Hootsuite has a horizontal feed.”

[Awkward silence]

“Also, you can have as many social media platforms as you want,” the salesman added.

“And there’s a free account on Sozial?”


“I see.” I looked up at the demo screen one more time. “Vertical. Feed.”

“Yes. Vertical feed… Much better.”

When I was in the early stages of pitching Behind the Setlist to potential investors, I was often asked the very question I asked Sozial: “How will you be different?” And very often, more or less, my answer was exactly what Sozial said: A vertical feed. Or, in my language, “A passion about live music.”

I bring this up because Behind the Setlist is still very much finding its voice. Instead of spending a year in business development, we decided to launch right away and figure out the details as we went. As one would expect, the last three months have been an exhilarating and daunting experience. And while I’ve been relying on the type of super vague, unconfident verbiage that Sozial uses to explain what they’re doing, I’m starting to see a clearer picture for what we’re doing.

Behind the Setlist is different because A) we are seeking new stories about music, performance and the industry that supports it, B) we edit heavily and push our writers to submit the best content they’ve ever written, and C) we aim to publish stories that resonate to an audience that is deeply passionate about music.

That’s it!

We’re not reinventing the wheel here, and we’re not developing a smart car. We are, however, building new roads. We hope you enjoy the journey.

This month, Behind the Setlist is continuing its Show Tunes series with Kristen Bushnell, who tells us how she placed music in a Super Bowl ad, among other interesting industry insights. We launch a new series called Making a Setlist, where we go in-depth with our favorite artists about the mechanics of live music; our first story is with indie-alternative band Surfer Blood. Senior Writer Jonathan Bautts talks with Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional, Twin Forks) about his career and much, much more. Craig Manning weaves a wonderful story about his first-ever concert experience, seeing Butch Walker in 2006 (coming soon). And Colin Poulton, our newest writer, talks to guitarist Dylan Fitch from the Nashville-based rock group the Delta Saints.

But that’s not all! (Too salesy?)

We have lots more on the way, so stay tuned. You can subscribe to our cutting-edge email newsletter or follow us at any of the paradigm-shifting socials below.

Until next time,

PS: Next month BTS staff writer J.T. Dawson will be taking over the reins as guest editor. Your’s truly will be on paternity leave, welcoming my son and future drummer to life’s stage.


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