Despite many years of receiving (and mostly deleting) 50+ PR emails a day, it’s only recently that I’ve begun to wonder about the people behind the press releases. What motivates them? What are their jobs like? What bands do they actually enjoy?
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to talk with Matt Bacon of Dropout Media. Our internet paths had crossed many years ago, but I recently became reacquainted with him through Dewar PR. Matt’s engaging Instagram and Youtube videos remind members of The Scene to keep grinding towards our goals. Here is an abridged version of what he had to say about his own goals and much more….
I’ve been seeing a lot of your Instagram posts and your advice videos, your at-the-bar-videos… Tell me about a day in the life of Matt Bacon.
It’s a lot more “single depressed dad” than you would think. I wake up at like 10, immediately start sending emails, I usually go for a run first thing. The other thing I do is the Spartan 300 — it’s like a weird intense workout thing with bodyweight exercise I’ve been getting into thanks to Ryan from the band Cryptrot. Working out to kick off the day and trying to get as many of the overnight emails done as possible — so the first part of my morning is trying to hit up all my European co-workers before they take off for the day. It’s usually pretty hectic…. By 11:30, things are settled down a bit […] and that’s when I typically do those videos.
Every day I have a calendar for shit I need to put out. I film two videos a day, I do a review every day, I have two Facebook groups I kinda run, and then I do 15-20 articles that are like advice for bands every month, so I usually need to get one of those typed out at some point. The rest of the day is sending a shit-ton of emails and then I end the day with three or four hours of phone calls. […] Then I wrap up at 11:00 pm or so, watching baseball and playing guitar.
[Editor’s Note: Matt later clarified that he is Dad only to a cat at this point, but human children are in “Year 8 of the 10-Year-Plan.”]
What is, like, your job? Is it Dropout Media, or Ripple, or both? Is it other things too?
Dropout Media is the consulting firm that everything feeds into. I learned early on that I don’t do well working for other people — but the fact that I get to work with someone like Todd [of Ripple Music] or with companies like Prophecy gives me a little bit more freedom and lets me work within those systems to help everyone grow more. Then when it comes to giving advice to bands, I’m that much more justified in where I come from. I can give much better advice and have a much higher level of connection, just like a good consultant in any other industry would operate.
It definitely sounds like you have a full daily schedule and a full calendar.
Well, it’s not like I have any real friends… [laughs]
[Laughing] Awwww, I’m sure that’s not true. You mentioned playing guitar, are you, uh — I guess you are a musician! That was gonna be one of my questions, are you a musician? Have you been in any bands, or what made you interested in the music PR industry?
I play classical guitar, but I don’t really have the time or like other people enough to be in a band. [laughs] I also feel like the stars haven’t aligned in that way, although I think they are starting to align….
I got into this as a fourteen-year-old living in Paris and I was the only person I knew who liked Darkthrone. So I decided that if I write about bands on the internet, maybe I could meet some cool people in Paris and in bands around the world, and then as an adult maybe I could be in bands and stuff.
So then I had the idea to basically — do you remember Ultimate Guitar?
It’s a guitar tab website that had a pretty active forum when internet forums weren’t just Reddit. I was writing about literally any band that crossed my path. You know how it is when you were like fourteen, you can’t really differentiate because no one’s taught you, “This is cool and this isn’t cool.” I knew I mostly liked metal, but I would end up writing about indie bands or pop-punk or whatever. It wasn’t until this guy named Peter Tomis who was in this band called Bloodmoon took me under his wing and made things a little bit more clear for me a few years later, that I was really deeply involved in metal.
But there are still people from that Ultimate Guitar thread eight years ago that I talk to regularly. I actually had a guy in South Side come up to me and say, “You don’t know who I am but we’ve been Facebook friends for eight years,” because I wrote about his band in 2010. It’s the weirdest thing ever, but it’s (also) kinda cool.
I might be mistaken here, but I thought I recognized your name from a company called Independent Music Promotions.
Yeah I used to work with James full time at IMP, but that ended amicably a few years ago. […] When I was working with him, I would get a little aggravated because a lot the bands would need help with things beyond PR. Like, let me just help you with your social media or let me help you understand how to send a show booking email — and that’s obviously not what a PR is supposed to do. Even though James was super supportive of that — he still is, and he’s still a great referral source for me, and I’ve been writing a lot of articles for him since I stopped working for him full-time — working for IMP was a big part of the inspiration for how to brand people.
But I know that Alternative Control does cover a lot of his stuff — you should interview him, he’s great, I love him.
That’s a great idea — we’ve been working with him for quite a few years.
I’ve known him since December of 2011.
That is going back awhile… So where do you get the ideas for all these daily Instagram videos?
Relentless fucking hatred.
That’s not a joke. Like, I got the idea to start doing videos from Curtis Dewar — one of my best friends, we do a lot of cool stuff together. A big part of me and Curtis’s day is just texting each other and being like, “Everything is so terrible, why’d they do this, oh God….” [laughs]
At the end of the day I think Curtis and I are both very happy and love pretty much everyone we work with — there’s just an incredible series of clusterfucks in an industry where everyone is high or depressed constantly. I definitely post some really “ranty” articles and I think those got a positive response. A lot of the videos and a lot of the articles you see are inspired by things that make me angry — so if I make a video about something very, very specific, it means something bad happened to me the other day and I’m still grumpy about it. So that’s where it’s at.
Okay, okay… I really like Curtis’s videos too — he inspired me as well, mine are in a different vein of what you guys are doing, but… He’s a cool guy!
Curtis, if I may for a moment, is one of the best people I’ve met. He’s another person I’ve known for a very long time — he’s an incredibly positive force in the scene, he’s literally the best bang for your buck PR guy I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone that’s as conscientious or as organized and disciplined as he is. Most other PR people if they have a bad campaign, will just be like, “Oh well, you’re fucked bro” — whereas… Tell me that’s not true.
Well I’m coming at this from a couple different angles. I have the blog, so I’ve been receiving the PR emails for however many years. Then I had a band I wanted to go into the next realm of things, so that’s how I met Curtis. My band worked with him for a campaign and he was super-awesome — and y’know, I can say out of several PR companies that I reached out to, two responded and said they couldn’t do stuff with us, some that I was a little disappointed in just ignored, but one of the people that (couldn’t work with us) said, “Get in touch with Dewar PR and don’t tell him that I sent you, because this industry is very competitive and I don’t usually do this — but get in touch with him.”
So I did, and he responded right away, and the rest is history! He did a great job for Owl Maker and we’re staying in touch, talking about PR and social media stuff. He just seems so good-willed.
Yeah he really is. He’s a great person to work with in general.
Well Curtis, at some point you’ll hear this. Everyone’s loving Dewar PR lately! [laughs] Matt, one of your videos I saw recently was about “no zero days” and I really liked that one. Is there a specific goal you’re working towards with all these endeavors?
As someone who is twenty-two and literally has no responsibilities, most of the goals I have are like, “Retire early” and “Max out my IRA and 401K” — I feel like those are pretty reasonable goals when again, you really don’t have anyone relying on you. I read a lot. I think I can confidently say that a good chunk of the Pacific Northwest metal scene is hoping that I’ll fund a retirement home for them [laughs], so I guess that’s my goal.
If I can help bands today more than I could yesterday, that makes me happy. If I can create events and help create art that makes people wanna kill themselves less, that’s a good thing. As someone who for a very long time had very little going on outside of music, I wish I had someone to show me the way better — and I hope I can help bands see the light a bit more clearly. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does. Speaking of bands, what are some bands that are under the radar right now that you think more people should know about?
Subrosa, obviously. [Editor’s Note: Matt Bacon is authoritatively the world’s #1 Subrosa Fan.] […] Other bands that I really like that are happening right now… There’s a band called Dreadnought that’s starting a U.S. tour […] who are fucking fabulous. They’re also playing Psycho Las Vegas… Another band I really enjoy is called High Priestess from LA — I signed them to Ripple awhile back and it just got announced that the record is coming out in May. They’re another band, truly spectacular doom metal, all girl trio… On the east coast there’s a band doing a very similar thing called Heavy Temple — they’re on tour right now, fabulous… Just watching that band explode in the last year has been really exciting and it’s been fun working with them. […] Otherwise there’s a band called Bloodmoon who I think are spectacular and their record really blew my mind when I first heard it. That’s a rundown of what I’ve been listening to this year, I’m sure I’m forgetting some and I apologize. I’m a shitty person, I get it.
[Editor’s Note: There were a few bands whose names I could not understand on the recording to transcribe, so I apologize! If you’re wondering, “Does Matt Bacon love my band?”, the answer is yes.]
Some band will be really upset with you.
I’m really excited to find out who’s angry at me.
We’ll leave off there for now. Are you angry at Matt Bacon? Do you love or hate his videos? Are you jealous of his hair? I’m a little jealous of his hair… Leave a comment below and be sure to check out Dropout Media on Instagram (@mattbacon666), Facebook and the web!
While you’re at it, hop over to Dewar PR (@DewarPR77) on Instagram too and get some tips from the “PR Wizard” and “giver of dangerous advice” who inspired this video trend. And of course, find Alternative Control on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and bandcamp.