Substack Writer Profile - Kevin Alexander - On Repeat
A Newsletter About Listening to Great Music
👍 I highly recommend subscribing to Kevin Alexander's On Repeat Newsletter!
It’s all about the Music. Mixtapes. New Music. Old Music. Making the musical experience better through playlists and discoverability. As Kevin describes his newsletter:
Playlists are my love language.
Remember that kid that was always making mixtapes? That was me. Later, I was the one burning CDs for everyone. Today, I bring a world of music right to you.
I couldn’t find a place to share music I love so I built it.
How do I do that? Music straight to your inbox 3 times a week.
Maybe it’s an old favorite. Maybe it’s a new discovery. Either way, it’ll be something I know will brighten your day.
If you’ve been looking for an engaged community of people who share your love of music, you’re in the right spot.
Give me two weeks, and I’ll give you a new favorite song.
There are both free and paid options available.
All subscribers receive 3 weekly posts delivered by email. Paying supporters receive additional exclusive content such as longer-form deep dives, interviews, record reviews, and access to playlists for any occasion. All of that and good karma for directly supporting this project for less than $1 a week.
My goal is to consistently deliver high-quality content, and that means this newsletter takes a lot of work/resources. It simply isn’t possible without financial support.
Take a look at all of the back posts to see more of what you can expect.
I have gotten to know Kevin in a personal zoom setting over the past month or so. He is a fascinating guy and a real quality type of individual. I’d like you to get to know him too.
Interview with Questions AND Answers
In the beginning. Can you tell us about your early years.
I was a happy child growing up in Beaverton, Oregon. Near where Nike’s Head Quarters is. My mom and my stepdad ran a construction company.
I had perfect attendance in grade school.
High school not so much. My favorite subject was Commercial Art. To be fair, I was terrible at it. But our teacher had managed to create this little haven where all of us could just sort of exhale and be ourselves.
I also studied World Lit and Philosophy in high school.
I then went to college and took Sociology and another subject that taught about how to organize work teams.
After a year in college, I headed out on the open road. Yes, in my car.
The first job that got me a pay-check was manning booths at trade fairs for a vacuum cleaner company (on behalf of my friend’s mother).
Then I was working as a dishwasher at an IHOP-ish place. I worked as a grocery clerk in an upscale store. Also I worked at a Camelot music store in the local mall.
Mostly what we’d now call “alternative.” The Replacements, Jawbreaker, Nirvana, Pixies. But also bands like Throwing Muses and New Order. My friends & I were all music nerds and would constantly pass around mixtapes and/or new finds. The music scene in Portland was exploding at the time, and there was no shortage of local bands, either.
I have spent most of my adult life working in commercial aviation. I work for one of the “Big 4” US airlines in a line station. I spend most of my work week running our Operations desk.
I start my shift at 4 AM. You know those early flights people love to hate? I’m one of the people making those happen. From 4-7ish, it’s a blitz of activity, then it slows down to a steady pace.
I work full time from Sunday to Thursday, and have Friday and Saturdays off. At least I can spend some weekend time with my wife and 2 sons (A senior in HS and a 14 year old.)
What is your wife like?
Extroverted, funny. Loves dealing with people as part of her career. Opposites attract.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Spinning records, watching soccer on TV or my kids’ games and relaxing. I enjoy playing soccer (more or less) and travelling. Working for an airline gets you some perks!
Your Newsletter - On Repeat
What’s the newsletter all about? Where did the title come from? Why did you start it? Who reads On Repeat?
It’s about music – old favorites for new ears, getting new artists onto people’s radar, interviews, recommendations and more.
I started it about 2 years ago, but its current iteration turned 1 this past September. When my kids had to shift to online learning during the pandemic, I took a class too.
Setting up a WordPress site was part of the class - which I did - but then started writing on Medium and Substack shortly after that.
The original newsletter was the usual “5 things I’m interested in” sort of deal and evolved into a shortened form focusing on one thing I was interested in at a time. It was called “Epistemic,” which made sense for a letter about knowledge & wonder. For a music site? Not so much.
A friend in a writing cohort suggested the name. I loved it and it stuck.
On Repeat is for people who miss making mixtapes and those looking to liven up their playlists. If you’re someone who loves talking about & sharing music, you’re in the right place!
How did you get your first subscribers?
Easy! I subscribed my wife & kids. Lol. I was also writing on Medium and a few readers and writers followed me to Substack.
How do you get subscribers now?
Substack’s recommendation feature has been a game-changer. It’s writer driven, so there’s a LOT of social-proof built in. That really helps.
Crossposting/collaborating with other writers also helps - and it’s a blast!
Aggregators like The Sample & Inboxreads also send a steady drip of new readers my way.
Social media platforms Twitter & Instagram drive a few here and there.
How do you write the newsletter?
So for context, I have Friday/Sat off from work:
I intentionally don’t write on Thursdays (other than to participate in Substack’s Office Hours forum).
Fridays are the day I tend to do a lot of ideating/outlining for the week.
Sunday & Monday are the days I do the bulk of the writing
Tuesday I edit.
Wednesday tends to be a “light editing” day.
I don’t write much on Saturdays. Family time.
What apps do you use to organize your writing?
I write a bit using the Notes app on my phone and interview questions/notes using Google Docs, but most of my notes are handwritten scribbles taken down on used teletype paper from the printer next to my desk.
I also do editing work and Grammarly Pro proves its value every day.
Can you pass on some tips and advice for other writers?
Write like you talk. (Not with your mouth, silly)
Online writing is VERY different from analog writing.
Don’t “find” time to write, “make it.” Put it on your calendar, and honor it the way you might another date, trip to the gym, etc.
Make sure you’re writing for the reader. Otherwise, it’s really just a diary, isn’t it?
Make a diagram of what you love and know a good deal about. The overlap? That’s your niche.
The narrower you go subject-wise, the better.
Be patient - do good work and growth will come.
Treat your newsletter like a startup.
Most importantly, just start! Like, today.
Some Favorite Things:
Artist: Jackson Pollack
Movie genre: Rock Documentary
TV shows: I honestly don't watch much TV. I did just binge Slow Horses though. I guess I can add 60 Minutes to the list.
Book genre: Aviation History
Book: Hard Landings
Morning Habit: Coffee before everything!
Keep your keys, wallet, phone in one place.
Make your lunch the night before
Throw a bulldog clip in your bag when you travel. It’ll come in handy if you’re ever n a hotel where the curtains don’t quite close all the way.
Advice: Life goes fast!
Vacation place: Anguilla
Things to do when on vacation: Chase the sun, go to sleep when it’s dark/get up when it’s light (instead of the other way around)
What do you worry about when you wake up in the middle of the night? If I’m late for work or not.
How do you deal with that? Look at my phone.
What is your greatest concern about the future of the world? That we’re leaving the next generation some sort of dystopian hellscape…
What is the Most important thing in your life right now? My wife/kids/dog.
Recommend another Substack:
For “not music” :
3 Things you’d like to be known for: Best dad, best husband, and being a ‘go-to” person at work or when it comes to music recommendations.
Here are some of Kevin’s Popular Newsletters:
Where else you can find Kevin:
Comment, like and share if you enjoyed this. If you’d like me to review your newsletter, just let me know in the comments. Peace!
I love your interview style! And, thanks Kevin, for such great tips.
Awesome interview questions and style by Paul and epic interview by Kevin. Thanks both of you. Very entertaining and enjoyable read 👌👍👏