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Brad Sucks: Guess Who's a Mess album cover

Guess Who's a Mess, my third album. 10 tracks, instant downloads.

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Upcoming Shows


All I’ve been doing lately is trying to promote my upcoming shows (July 31 Ottawa! August 7 Toronto!) Previously I’ve been lazy about show promotion due to insecurity and shame but desperation has once again won out.

I’m pretty sensitive and protective towards people who subscribe to my mailing list. I don’t want to piss them off with bullshit updates or waste their time. This is mostly an issue when I have an occasional show – nobody cares if there’s a show far away from them that they can’t attend and it’s annoying to get those emails. So I built this mappy email signup thing which you can see on my live page.

I’ve built up a good number of email addresses in there and they’re targeted nicely. Anyone in there has specifically entered their email address and selected their location. That’s about as opt-in as it gets in this world. “Please contact me if Brad Sucks is in this area, no fooling.”

So while I went about contacting folks I tracked the event detail clickthroughs with a url shortener and the results were disappointing:

Listmessenger Ottawa 8%
Listmessenger Toronto 16%
MailChimp Ottawa 10%
MailChimp Toronto 3%
Eventful Ottawa 0%
Eventful Toronto 0%


First I sent email the way I usually do — I use Listmessenger from my server. I’ve had suspicions for some time that my mail was not getting to most people on the mailing list but I didn’t have anything super important going on so I didn’t stress about it.

The clickthrough rate for Ottawa was 8% and 16% for Toronto. From what I can see that’s not a bad rate for your average semi-spammy email list. But again – this one is as targeted as it gets. Why isn’t it much, much higher?


I have a decent number of demands over on Eventful. I’ve bitched before that they don’t give me access to my demanders’ email addresses (and was laughed at by the CEO for the suggestion I should have them if Eventful gets access to them). I sent out mail to my fans in areas in and around Ottawa and Toronto. For Ottawa and Toronto both I received zero clickthroughs. For Toronto I got 1.

I’m pretty shocked at that. What’s the deal? Did the emails bounce? Are the addresses invalid? Are the Eventful emails getting marked as spam? I have no way to know. You fire your message to people who have demanded you in the area and that’s that. Hope for the best.

Anyway I’ve put the Eventful widget up places (including my live page) thinking it couldn’t hurt but I think I’m done with that. No point gathering fans through a service if I can’t reach them.


Frustrated with these results I signed up for MailChimp. It’s a pay mailing list service that’s been highly recommended to me and they appear to have a great reputation. My best guess was that ISPs were maybe shitcanning my emails? Anyway, I bought some credits and sent out apologetic new versions of the emails to the same lists (removing anyone who replied that I knew had received the emails).

This time Ottawa got a clickthrough rate of 10% and Toronto got 3%. So it got me some extra eyeballs but it wasn’t a huge improvement.

In the end


Out of all the fans in and around Toronto and Ottawa who voluntarily gave me their locations I have been able to contact only 5%. Awful.

Of course I feel bad for selfish reasons – I want these shows to go well, I want lots of people to come out, I want them to be a success. I’ve rented the club in Toronto and I’d like to not lose money. And psychologically a lot is riding on them for me. These will likely determine if I go ahead with some tour plans next year.

But I also feel like I’m letting these folks down. They’ve specifically asked me to tell them if I’m playing near them, which is such a nice thing for them to ask. I’ve promised to tell them when I’m in town and now I feel like I’m not able to hold up my end of the deal. That sucks and I have no idea what to do about it.

Posted on - July 22, 2010 [at] 12:35 am by Brad
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image Here is a nerdy data complaint:

Earlier this year the Ottawa Police announced they would be publishing daily crime data via, it’s a nice searchable interface using Google Maps. I loved the idea and thought it was fantastic that citizens had an easy way to search and view this data.

Fast-forward a few months and I had some ideas I wanted to try with the public crime data. I hunted around for a way to access the data in a usable format or at least an RSS feed, but there were none that I could find. I looked into scraping the data from and that was non-trivial. offers emailed crime reports (blegh) and here’s what their Frequently Asked Questions page says on the matter:

How can users access crime information for their areas of interest? is a community-facing Web application, and as such, emphasizes the user experience. A user simply enters an address of interest (home, office, school, etc.) and clicks on "Get Report" to see criminal activity in a given area on an easy-to-use map interface. The Web application also integrates data from multiple agencies into a single interface and offers automated, location-based alerting services.

Which to me is code for “ would rather lock-in the data, and as such, not help potential competitors.”

Finally, I contacted the Ottawa Police and asked if there’s a way for regular folks to access the daily data they’re providing to They pointed me to the weekly reports (which look like this, and would be usable with some parsing). Only problem: these have been discontinued in 2009 in favor of sending all the data to They said there’s no public feed for that data and that I’d need to make a Freedom of Information request.

So we have a situation here where the Ottawa crime data has been moved to a site that’s easier for 99% of citizens to access and understand, but the data is locked up in a third-party website and inaccessible to anyone who wants to do some serious work with it. Which to me is a huge step backwards.

Posted on - May 29, 2009 [at] 2:13 pm by Brad
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Since I’ve been going geo-crazy lately, here are some data pictures (wheee!!):

subscriber locations


Red markers for anyone who subscribed and entered their location in the past couple of days.

album sale locations


Blue markers for a couple years of album sale data.

subscribers and album sale locations


Not shown: Antarctica — not big fans of mine apparently.

If you want to stand up and be counted, you can sign up on the Live page.

Posted on - April 28, 2008 [at] 9:18 am by Brad
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