How I Went Viral by Ignoring One of the “Rules” of LinkedIn

How I Got 1.6 Million Views by Following My Instincts 📈

Resharing my post after Mubs and I updated our Zoom-branding tool, Branded Background!

Accidental Virality & a Little Experiment

In spring of this year, I was scrolling back through some of my LinkedIn posts and was floored to see that one of my posts had gone viral. Without me even realizing!

It was something I’d put up about a month prior just to get my daily quota filled (I try to post every day for consistency) and I hadn’t thought much about it afterwards.

It ended up doing more than 50K views. 😱⚡

I read and reread that post over the course of the week, trying to figure out what in the hell it was that had caused it to go so crazy. Was it the content? The formatting? The emojis (don’t laugh, those things matter!) or the hashtags?

🤔 Working over the next week, I tried a variety of things to understand what had keyed into the LinkedIn algorithm so acutely. After a few days, I began to wonder if it was something else—something which LinkedIn power-users cautioned against. So I figured why not try that and see.

I went viral again. 📈

And again. 📈📈

And again. 📈📈📈

20K, 40K, 80K, 190K views started popping up in my feed. At one point, I even did half a million views on one post!

This actually wasn’t my first time going viral on LinkedIn. But it was the first time I was doing so consistently. This time it was serious.

My first time going very viral happened just before I started running my experiment.

I racked up well over a million views over a spread of just 10-15 posts. 😯

I started to track my thesis in a spreadsheet.

Over the few months that I consistently ran the experiment, I went viral about a third of the time—I was going viral at least 2-3 times a week over a ten-week span.

It got to the point where if I didn’t  go viral, it was a little uncommon and I felt that tomorrow I’d just make it up by going viral then. 

So what was the secret to all this insane virality?

Hold your breath, because LinkedIn power-users are about to lose their shit here…

☝️ Sharing.


The LinkedIn “Rule” I Ignored to Go Viral (Again and Again)

I ignored one of the “rules” of the LinkedIn algorithm and just went with my natural instincts.

During the time I ran my little experiment, I started sharing…a lot.

A lot more than I already had been.

The spreadsheet I kept for my experiment.

Here’s why this is such a drastic statement:

Because lots of LinkedIn power-users often share tips for how to do better on LinkedIn; a lot of which have become gospel because of how the algorithm reacts—how it changes, and how it doesn’t change…

Core tactics like:

  • Text content is king.
  • Write up to the content limit.
  • Canoe-tagging is okay, even encouraged.
  • Answer every damn comment.

And towards the bottom of the pecking-order?

Share. 📈📉

Or rather, don’t share, because the algorithm (supposedly) dings you for it. 

A tip from a LinkedIn power-user I follow.

I always saw sharing listed at the very bottom, the thinking being that the algorithm smacks you for not creating your own content and suppresses your reach. (Probably a reasonable theory, but as I said, algorithms get tweaked sometimes).

And yet, that post that racked up 50K views? The one I’d just pushed out without thinking about it?

It was a share.

I just went through it, found a few points I connected with, tried to articulate how I thought about them, and shared her post into my network.

Then it spread like wildfire. 🔥

The post that racked up 55K views without me even realizing it!

Why Sharing Works So Well

🙌 Sharing is one of my favorite strategies because it’s a great way to simultaneously learn and build great relationships with the people who are creating the material you connect with.

Here’s why sharing doesn’t work for a lot of people: they’re not patient and they don’t give credit!

It’s not just sharing though; it’s sharing the right way, a key factor which I see trip people up all the time.

This is such an avoidable pitfall that it just baffles me why I continue to see this. I always give credit at the top of the post. This is key; never take credit for what isn’t yours. That kills a reputation and potential relationship before they even start.

But there is a way to successfully “piggyback” on someone else’s content without looking like a tool. In fact, I wrote all about it here. The key is, as always, humility, authenticity, & due credit.

This is precisely what I teach people how to do as the #ZeroToOneNetworker. 😉🚀

Resharing a post and trying to add some value to the original message while giving due credit.

So when it took off, it made me wonder why anyone would ever recommend against sharing on LinkedIn. Perhaps the algorithm did penalize you a little bit, but here’s my thinking:

1) We never know for sure

2) Sharing is a great way of pushing out new, high-quality content, &

3) It’s probably the best way I’ve found to build an amazing network.

Breaking 1.6 Million Views (Fairly Effortlessly)

In fact, it’s pretty much precisely how I built my tech network on Twitter, and how I built my network in the music business before that. People who follow me know that 75-80% of everything I tweet or put out is in support of someone else. Either a company I dig, a mission I believe in, or someone who I absolutely wanna see grow and succeed.

So I just started to adapt my Twitter strategy to LinkedIn and see if emulating it yielded any different results.

Now I’ll stop here and say that I don’t know if this is a “surefire” way to still go viral on LinkedIn.

In fact, I don’t think there is a “surefire” way. 

Some of my posts did 100K views. Others didn’t even break 100. There was never a guarantee. 

But it did make me reexamine the question that so many people ask (and now, amazingly, ask me) of: How do I go viral?

That’s not the right question.

The right question is: How do I build a magnetic reputation and a deep bench of allies in a concrete network?

Answer: You do it through sharing and supporting others in the right way. 👏💫 This is what I love teaching other people how to do because once you start doing it, your network takes off like a rocket. 🚀

Resharing a post and explaining how I find inspiration and value in someone else’s content.

That’s why the share tactic worked for me. Because it was something I could easily emulate from my Twitter strategy (which had also worked for me), something which people associated with my brand, and something that I could easily tweak if need be. 

Perhaps, though, the most important part of the strategy (for me, anyway) is that it allowed me to sidle close to the people whom I want(ed) to learn from in a way that was neither fanboy-ish nor self-centered. It was a way to indicate that I appreciated someone else’s mission, accomplishments, company, or character without actually having to say so. Sometimes the subtle signals are the most effective. 

In the end, my “share” posts went viral about one third of the time. Not bad at all. 

But the really amazing thing is that I ended up doing well over 1.6 MILLION post views from when I started the experiment. 

Even more intriguing to me, though, is that I still continue to see many of my LinkedIn friends continue to suggest not sharing because the algorithm dings you on it. And I absolutely understand this; their suggestions come from a place of not wanting their followers’ content to be stifled by the algorithm. So the advice does come from a good place.

But for me, that’s the exact opposite of what I found that really started to work for me. And perhaps most importantly, it’s antithetical to what worked for me elsewhere and what ultimately defines my brand as the 🚀 #ZeroToOneNetworker. Because when people 😎#LookForTheOrangeSunglasses, they know that the content won’t only be my own thoughts, but tips, experiences, & stories from other people in my network whom I also learn from.

Maybe that’s the reason that my sharing worked in the first place; because so many people are not doing it consistently. Daring to do something different—even by accident—is a great way to set yourself apart and make your content more unique.

Maybe it makes me a little different than the other LinkedIn power-users out there, but I’ll double-down and say it:

If you wanna grow your network and content, then share.

And if you really wanna grow your network, then message me and book some time with me so we can figure out how to supercharge your networking chops! ⚡💸

Share positively and consistently; always try to add something valuable and always, always give credit.

After all, I didn’t have anything to lose—do you? 😉

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn at @adammarx13 and @Zero2OneNetwork.

And continue to 😎 #LookForTheorangeSunglasses!

What Is Socially Just

brandeis

In 2018, amidst the high school walkouts taking place around the country, I called on my alma mater, Brandeis University, to join a slew of colleges and universities and put its money where its mouth is. I—and I’m sure many other alumni—challenged them to commit to honoring their ideals of free speech & social justice in the wake of high school administrations cracking down on such free expression.

Screenshot (49)

They rose to the occasion and released a public statement articulating their support for free expression and exercise of social justice—a core ideal on which our school was founded—and committed to honoring interview dates and acceptance packages based on students’ merits, and not swayed by fickle administrative politics. It even got picked up by Buzzfeed News and I made my social media debut—my Twitter handle at least—in a Buzzfeed listicle; I guess I can cross that off my bucket list. 

Now, two years later, I called on them again to rise to a similar, if not more daunting challenge. And again, I imagine I wasn’t the only one.

Screenshot (54)

As the Trump administration seeks to engage in thinly-veiled isolationist and racist policies—in the wake of a global pandemic no less—simple students have found themselves caught in the political crossfire. The administration’s “guidance” over not allowing foreign students to take online-only classes for the U.S. fall semester is yet another stain on a consistently tumultuous and erratic educational policy. It’s not only antithetical to everything that Brandeis stands for as an institution, but what we as a nation stand for. One would think that such a stark departure from core American ideals would be enough to dissuade the Trump administration from pursuing such a draconian agenda.

And yet here we are. 

On the heels of Trump’s announcement of the new policy, Harvard University and MIT—two other Boston-based schools with which Brandeis is good-naturedly competitive—filed a joint lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the Trump administration. In Harvard’s own words to CNN:

“The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others[.]”

The lawsuit itself expands further on this line of thinking:

“…for many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impractical, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous.”

Why does any of this even matter? Why did I even tweet about it?

Well if you’re reading this as someone with any connection to Brandeis at all, you should be able to answer those questions on your own.

For everyone else, here’s why:

Because Brandeis was founded on ideas of equality, diversity, right to a first-class education, and above all, social justice. Indeed the latter phrase emblazons most every free space around the university’s campus.

In the school’s own words:

“Brandeis University was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community at a time when Jews and other ethnic and racial minorities, and women, faced discrimination in higher education.

Brandeis’ visionary founders established a nonsectarian university that welcomed talented faculty and students of all backgrounds and beliefs.”

There, in the first breath of our school identity and history, is the commitment to being different in the face of adversity and acting as a tether—the tether—to being a socially just port in the storm. It’s no surprise that Justice Brandeis—the school’s namesake—adorns the central space by the Student Campus Center—the “green building” as it’s affectionately known to students. The indelible mark that Brandeis made on modern jurisprudence is now playing out before our eyes.

And in this moment, we as Brandeis alumni and community members cannot be spectators; we must be leaders.

When I called on Brandeis to step up to the plate in this game, I didn’t have a specific goal in mind beyond urging my alma mater to lead in the game from the start. Whether joining Harvard and MIT or finding a place similar to Cornell University, which has joined the case as a friend of the court and had this to say:

“This was wholly unexpected, and it is a senseless and unfair policy that runs counter to all that we stand for as a global academic community[.]”

Because in the end, this is not a game.

This is about who we are and what our legacy will be. I spent years at Brandeis majoring in history—I studied masses of it. From East Asian and European Medieval to Roman and American Colonial, there’s always one thing that’s true about history:

There is always a right side of it. And a wrong side of it.

It seems that the Brandeis administration is of a similar mind.

As I continued to tweet about this whole snafu last week, I noticed the Brandeis account liking all of my tweets.

Screenshot (53)

Then I saw their comment pop up; a link to a tweet from the Brandeis account late last Wednesday evening—hours after I’d logged off for the day and busied myself with dinner and household chores—that detailed their full statement on the matter. The official post—appropriately titled “Supporting International Students”—basically boiled down to this:

“In the face of such callous [ICE] guidelines, Brandeis must act in support of our international students and those across the country. Today, we are joining with a number of other colleges and universities in supporting an effort by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to temporarily prohibit the enforcement of these guidelines…We are committed to finding solutions to redress the ICE guidelines.”

However Brandeis is named in the suit—either jointly with Harvard and MIT or similarly to Cornell and other universities—is more or less irrelevant. Semantics are just that—semantics.

The only relevant thing is that they—we—are in the arena, fighting for what we as students, donors, alumni, and socially just thinkers went there for. This is how Brandeis can (and will) continue to define itself as a leading university and community in the coming years; how it proves to the outside world that it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Ivy League schools and similar institutions like Emory, Stanford, and MIT.

The suit came before a federal judge this week and it took all of five minutes (seriously!) for ICE and the Trump administration to cave. But I have no illusions; I imagine there will be other repressive agendas that follow. And in those moments, we as Brandeisians must see and meet these challenges head-on.

Because ultimately this isn’t a meaningless issue. There is no gray area here.

There is only what is socially just.

An Artistic Analysis of Four Tech Investors

Seeing the World Through Artistic Eyes

Part of being an art student is that you inevitably see art everywhere, whether it’s meant to be noticed as art or not. This goes for anything—drawings, graffiti, cars, apps—and most recently for me, Twitter profile avatars.

Twitter avatar profile pictures of Fred Wilson (top left), Brad Feld (top right), Hunter Walk (bottom left), and Marc Andreessen (bottom right)

Twitter avatar profile pictures of Fred Wilson (top left), Brad Feld (top right), Hunter Walk (bottom left), and Marc Andreessen (bottom right)

As I was scrolling through my feed the other day, I saw a number of avatars go by, and my resulting thought process surprised even me—I thought wouldn’t it be cool to analyze those the way I used to analyze art pieces for my art history classes (well, cool is relative I suppose, but I’m an art nerd, so there). So that’s what today’s post is about: no talk of music, apps, or any major tech trends. Just an artistic analysis of the profile avatars of four tech investors. I wasn’t sure exactly how to order these, but I decided it would interesting to go according to an art history timeline, rather than simply by alphabetical order. Let the analyzing begin.

Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson‘s Twitter avatar is one of my favorites from an artistic perspective because of its striking power. I look at Wilson’s picture, which sets a large facial portrait against a lime-green background, and think immediately of the work of modern Austrian painter Egon Schiele (something which I’ve tweeted about numerous times). For those unfamiliar with Schiele’s work, he redefined the concept of portraiture in the early 20th century by daring to accentuate bodily features way outside their normal proportions. Some common aspects of Schiele’s work are overly-large eyes, and a strong, set jawline, usually defined by a sharp contour, which can clearly be seen in his pieces “Self Portrait” (1910) and “Self Portrait with Physalis” (1912).

Egon Schiele; left:

Egon Schiele; left: “Self Portrait” (1910); right: Self Portrait with Physalis” (1912)

Looking at Wilson’s picture, the enlarged eyes and clearly defined jawline fit the mold of Expressionism which Schiele helped to pioneer. The eyes are deep-set—almost sunken—but with a gleam that seems to burst from the canvas, made even brighter by the bold green that encapsulates the pupils. The cut jawline is mirrored at the top of the piece by raw, almost rugged strokes of brown making up Wilson’s hair. Yet while the zig-zag strokes chisel the top of the portrait in an almost sculpted way, the slight waviness of the hair on either side of Wilson’s heads help to capture a curved smoothness which bleeds out into the dynamism of the green background.

Fred Wilson Twitter avatar

Fred Wilson Twitter avatar

The life of the piece, though, is centered in the eyes, and the cheeks. The eyes swirl knowingly—disjointed only by the large space between them. The cheeks meanwhile, glow warmly with the only hot colors on the canvas: a roughly hewn pink which darkens towards the face’s edges. Even the the portions of the piece where the paint seems too thin are almost indicative of Schiele’s practice of leaving paintings unfinished. Collectively, Wilson’s avatar contains deep traces of Expressionism roots, though nodding to a lighter palette than was typically used in Europe at the time.

It’s also worth noting, however, that Schiele is not the only art master represented. Henri Matisse seems to make an appearance as well, mostly in the nose-area. While the nose seems almost too large for the face surrounding it, it nonetheless conjures up images of Matisse’s “Portrait of Madame Matisse (The green line)” (1905), or even his “Self-Portrait in a Striped T-shirt” (1906). Intentional or not, I nonetheless look at Wilson’s picture and see Schiele’s Expressionism and Matisse’s Fauvism and Modernism.

Henri Matisse; left:

Henri Matisse; left: “Portrait of Madame Matisse (The green line)” (1905); right: “Self-Portrait in a Striped T-shirt” (1906)

Brad Feld

Brad Feld‘s picture is similar to Wilson’s in that it’s a painted portrait. That, however, is where the artistic similarities end. Whereas Wilson’s piece drips of early 20th century Expressionism and Fauvism, Feld’s portrait exhibits a more mid-century style. The thinner mouth and quirky glasses add a Pop Art flavor to the portrait, a fact that’s exacerbated by the bright greens and purples that play through both the back and foreground.

Brad Feld Twitter avatar

Brad Feld Twitter avatar

While still set amid deeply defined contours, Feld’s jawline is nonetheless more curved and flowing than Wilson’s, and with the light stream of pink that follows the chin-line, Feld’s smile is captured perfectly. The curvature of the lower half of the portrait plays on the wavy strands of hair which sit at the top, floating in a controlled messiness which adds a sense of jubilance to the work.

The most striking feature, though, is Feld’s eyeline. Encased in straight-edged square glasses, the eyeline cleanly divides the portrait into two halves, thereby introducing a sense of order into an otherwise happy-go-lucky piece. The Andy Warhol-esque psychedelic color-scheme in the background is indicative of mid-’60s Pop, as is Feld’s mauve shirt collar. Seemingly taking direction from color-schemes like that in Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe” (1962), Feld’s avatar bleeds with a real ’60s flavor.

Andy Warhol;

Andy Warhol; “Marilyn Monroe” (1962)

Of particular note, though, is Feld’s smile, which reminds me of pieces by a famous Pop artist, though not one the mainstream is too familiar with. James Rosenquist emerged separately from Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, but is notable for his use of “the grin,” which can be clearly seen in the baby portion of “F-111” (1964-65) and in President Kennedy’s smile in “President Elect” (1960-61). The grin which plays through Rosenquist’s pieces finds a home in Feld’s piece as well, framing the portrait in visions of Pop from all styles of the decade.

James Rosenquist; top:

James Rosenquist; top: “President Elect” (1960-61); bottom: “F-111” (1964-65)

Hunter Walk

Hunter Walk‘s Twitter avatar isn’t hard to place; one look at it and the first thing any art student or aficionado would think is Roy Lichtenstein. The cartoonish quality of Walk’s picture is not only evident, but is the main focus of the piece itself. Whereas the previous pictures exhibited more subtle elements of the art movements which seem to be at play in them, here there is no question. The animated nature of the piece has a disarming effect on the viewer, making Walk’s smile seem all the more friendly.

Hunter Walk Twitter avatar

Hunter Walk Twitter avatar

Much like Lichtenstein’s “Drowning Girl” (1963), Hunter Walk is portrayed in a series of curves and flowing lines. Though obviously different subject matter than the aforementioned painting, there is nonetheless a similar ebb and flow that connects the two. Walk’s hairline is jagged only in certain spots, leaving the rest to create a circular movement around his head. The dynamism that this movement contributes to the piece cannot be understated because it is precisely mirrored by his shoulders and neck tilt.

Roy Lichtenstein;

Roy Lichtenstein; “Drowning Girl” (1963)

Rather than appearing stilted and set, Walk seems to lean into the movement, adding to its run through the picture. Even the shadowing of his beard and smile accentuate the flow of the centripetal movement. The darker shade of gray used for the beard moves along the face smoothly in some areas, and yet is cut sharply in others, much like the movement of waves splashing up against a cliff. The smile, meanwhile, is simple, but creates an eddie around which the flowing contours of the beard and facial lines must move.

Perhaps most interesting of all, though, is the way in which Walk’s beard in the piece seems to harken back to Lichtenstein’s common use of pointillism. While clearly one solid color throughout, Walk’s beard is nonetheless styled and colored in such as way as to appear to be more individualized than it really is. When compared to Lichtenstein’s oil piece “I Can see the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It!” (1963), Walk’s avatar seems to take on a different sense of shadow. As the man in Lichtenstein’s painting is lightly shadowed along his face to create a deeper perspective, so too does Walk’s beard in his avatar create for him.

Roy Lichtenstein;

Roy Lichtenstein; “I Can See the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It!” (1963)

Marc Andreessen

Perhaps the most post-modern piece of the four is Marc Andreessen‘s avatar, done in a way which most would describe as “South Park-ish” owing to its cut-and-paste style. While this is actually a good description based on South Park popularizing the cut-and-paste style in the last couple decades, it begs the question of what does that mean artistically? Is it just a cartoon? If so, why doesn’t it look like Hunter Walk’s Twitter avatar, which also exhibits a clear, cartoonish quality?

Andreessen’s avatar is a mix of post-modern, cut-and-paste qualities, but it also employs a sense of Pop which is prevalent in the other avatars. The sharp, clean lines cast the picture in brisk light, asserting that it’s so simple, there must not be anything under the surface. But there is.

Marc Andreessen Twitter avatar

Marc Andreessen Twitter avatar

The cartoonish Pop quality hides the other influences which dance through the piece. The basic oval-shaped hands, straight-line eyebrows and simple circular head harken back to the bare-bones approach towards geometry of Cubism, while the flat, cut-and-paste quality is indicative of the Superflat movement. As Cubists like Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris attempted to unravel the notions of geometry in art, so too did post-modern artists like Takashi Murakami desire to understand depth in a different way.

Right: Pablo Picasso;

Right: Pablo Picasso; “Girl Before a Mirror” (1932); left: Juan Gris; “Harlequin with Guitar” (1919)

The simple, circular curvature of Andreessen’s head in the avatar seem to mirror the circular head of the girl in Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror” (1932), while his egg-shaped eyes mirror those of the man in the Juan Gris painting, “Harlequin with Guitar” (1919). The flat quality of the avatar, however, jumps almost a hundred years forward, to the Superflat movement of the 2000s, pioneered by Murakami. As Murakami explored the flatness that depth could have in pieces like 2001’s “Tan Tan Bo,” so too does Andreessen’s avatar explore concepts of flatness and depth (perhaps without even knowing it). In its exploration of depth and geometry, Andreessen’s avatar is thus more artistic than it initially appears.

Takashi Murakami;

Takashi Murakami; “Tan Tan Bo” (2001)

Art and Tech Intertwined

Though these are just four analyses of four Twitter avatar’s it’s become clear that art and tech are more closely intertwined than perhaps initially thought. This might explain why I see pieces by Basquiat and other artists come up so often in the tech industry. But it may be even simpler than that—it may simply be that art resonates with people in the tech industry precisely because they are also in the business of creating as much as painters and sculptors are. Or maybe they just like how it looks, that’s a valid point too. In the end what matters is what you see when you look at pieces and avatars like this. For me, I see art that is deeper than what’s on the surface. What do you see?

Two Stories of Sexism in the Music Industry

The kind of BS sexism we need to eliminate

The kind of BS sexism we need to eliminate

The Scourge of Sexism

With the issue of gender equality fast becoming one of the central topics in Silicon Valley (and by extension, the tech and startups industries) at the moment, I can’t say I’m anything but pleased. The problem of gender discrimination and the glass ceiling is long overdue for a solution. While I harbor no fantasies that such a solution will be found overnight, I am nonetheless pleased to see that there is a major effort being made to reform these shortcomings in the tech industry.

As a male, I can confidently say that gender discrimination hits very close to home for me; my parents both practice civil rights litigation, with a focus in employment discrimination and sexual harassment. I grew up seeing cases of blatant discrimination (and unfortunately it makes me angry to say I still do), where the the ugly beasts of intolerance and sexism were clearly visible. The latter, in particular, surprises me again and again because we are taught to believe that we’re moving forward in eradicating sexism—but not fast enough in my opinion. We still have a lot of work to do.

While the tech industry is starting to really spotlight and root out sexism within its ranks (as well it should), other industries are lagging too far behind in my opinion. The music industry, for example, is still too hampered by outright sexism for my taste, even after movements like third-wave feminism and Riot grrrl punk began to shatter the mold. It’s not a foregone conclusion by any means, and there are many within the music trenches who are trying very hard to change it for the better—to level the playing field so that gender becomes irrelevant—so that talent is acknowledged and validated by its inherent existence, regardless of the artist’s gender.

But let me provide two examples of what can be changed, and how people can step in to make the music arena more tolerant and progressive. Neither example makes me happy to share (less happy to have experienced), but perhaps that underscores their importance.

The Sleazy Promoter

The first example happened a couple of years ago, in the spring of 2013, and goes like this: I am good friends with a band whose members included a female element (the singer and drummer). The group was set to work with a promoter to book shows in their home state (which, though eliminated by name, I can say is quite a big market for independent music). The promoter made inappropriate and unwelcome advances towards the female band member(s) and the group cut ties, not wanting to work professionally with someone of such poor character quality. The promoter then retaliated by threatening to call every promoter within the state, seeking to destroy the group’s reputation, thus effectively cutting out their feet from under them. (In this particular state, I can say with confidence that there are at least seven major cities and/or scenes that they most likely split their time between).

I was in Amsterdam at the time, on my study abroad program. I woke up one day to a frantic “what do we do?? we’re going to get totally screwed by this person!” email from the singer. Even through text it wasn’t hard to clearly read her fear and anger over the situation. So her solution? Reach out to me in search of some advice.

The response I sent her was simple: I explained to her that I was behind her, and would throw the entire weight of my blog and radio show behind her and the band (and would bring in other artists I knew for support if need be). I even offered to write a letter as a professional contact (DJ and journalist) attesting to their quality as a band and professionalism as people, which they might use to send to anyone to rebuke the slanderous threats of this sleazy promoter. She seemed calmed by that offer (and most thankful, as you can imagine!) and we decided to see just how events would proceed.

In the end, the promoter never made good on his threats, and the whole situation seemed to blow over. But I never forgot that frantic email (I’m sure she hasn’t either), and to this day I’m still good friends with her and the band. The point is this: such a situation should never have occurred, and it very quickly seemed to spin out of control. But in situations like these, one needs to have the wherewithal to step up for what’s right. I didn’t do anything I didn’t think others wouldn’t do in the same situation. You don’t do it for pats on the back—you do it because it’s right.

The Sexist Tweeter

The second example happened more recently, during the Super Bowl this year. One of the Super Bowl commercials was to promote the hashtag #LikeAGirl to promote gender equality. This is one commercial I loved and supported, and I made so known on Twitter. This was the result:

The sexism problem that needs to be solved

The sexism problem that needs to be solved

I was actually staggered by the sheer sexism of the comment that I saw on my post. Someone telling me that I was sure to “get laid” for supporting “those feminists.” I was angry—actually I was seething. Not only had this person insulted the women that my comment was meant to support, but had dragged my name down too by insinuating that my motive was “to get laid.” I work with numerous artists—many of them with a female element—and I was pissed that this person had seen fit to insult not only people I work with, but people who are my friends.

The music industry is like the tech/startup industry in this respect—not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but trying very hard to get better. And here was someone dragging us back to the dark ages. This is exactly the sort of thing that people in both industries (or any industry) need to find and root out. The people who make these comments and hold these views are toxic. It’s not (and won’t be) easy, but it has to be done. And it will be.

I for one will be on the lookout for it in the music industry, and will call anyone on it. I encourage other to take aim at sexism and gender discrimination in their respective industries which they know best. Music is my world, and I will not have it polluted with this sort of poison. Don’t step into my house and disrespect my business contacts and friends, it’s as simple as that.