WE’RE UP early – Catriona’s pal Catherine is coming at 9.30am to start preparing food for this afternoon’s baby shower.

I’ve a load of work to do anyway, so clear out the house after breakfast.

Another pal arrives around midday to help Catherine, then folks arrive around 2pm.

I say hello, go back to the office and finish of some web work then head up the lochside for a walk. I suddenly remember all the GDPR data protection laws coming into force in May and start to panic a bit.

We take privacy very seriously and don’t share any of my mail list data with any thrid party. Also, we don’t keep any credit card or other data on file and really only have names and email addresses for the mailing list. I’m also able to amend all my mail list sign up forms online to that I can prove I have mail list members’ consent….and I can make everything double opt-in as a belt’n’braces measure.

Furthermore, I have no problem with putting together a privacy policy online and sending anyone who asks precisely what information we hold on them as individuals.

So that’s all good and well and I’m in agreement with  privacy and data protection, but…it seems I need to be able to prove I have consent for any EU resident on my mail list. That’s mostly OK for folks who have signed up via Mailchimp as a record of their consent will exist, but what about the folks who’ve signed up at live shows and I’ve manually added myself to the Mailchimp lists. That’s nearly 20 years worth of email list sign ups from gigs that may have to go in the bin. Nearly 20 years of hard work and meticulous attention to detail potentially down the tubes.

Some folks might argue that a simple mail out to the existing mail lists asking them to re-subscribe will solve the dilemma and that there’s no point in having anyone who doesn’t renew on the list anyway. Fine if the emails reach them. Or they spot the resubscribe email. Too busy. On holiday. Or just forget.

My mail outs have a good open rate. Well above average. I like to think that’s because folks are on the list because they want to be and opted in rather than being harvested form somewhere else and added without permission. Proving that is not so simple.

The folks that don’t open my eNewsletter are not the same folks every month…there’s a million reasons why folks open or don’t open emails. So my one or two chances to hit folks up to resubscribe may not get through to folks that actually do want to stay informed.

Moreover, it may be that any of us maintaining email lists have to register with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) and pay £35 a year (£500 for larger organisations). For what? 

The ICO proudly proclaims that half a million businesses have signed up already. That’s a minimum of over £17m in revenue. Sounds like a scam to me. I’m hoping that – as a Mailchimp user – the service provider may have that taken care of, so long as we don’t maintain any copies of our mail list data.

You probably figured that I;m pretty stressed by this whole thing….making a living from music is not an easy thing to do and this kind of legislation could put some of us under.

For big corporations it’s an inconvenience and a short term drain on human resources. For the hobbyist with day job, it could be a major hassle, but it’s unlikely to threaten their livelihood.

Data protection and privacy is important, but some of these regulations are going to cause small, independent operators some grief and while it’s for the common good in the long term, in many cases it’ seems to be a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.