Daily Blog

Roamin' Thru the Gloamin' With 40,000 Headmen and Headwomen - Inside the RBN Blogosphere

Well, thanks to you all, we reached another important milestone this week: 40,000 subscribers to RBN’s daily blog. We are quite proud of the achievement. That’s a lot of folks taking time out of their busy day to read a couple thousand words about what’s happening with oil, gas, NGLs and renewables — all in the context of a rock & roll song. We couldn’t have done it without you. Today, after posting a total of about 3,000 blogs over nearly 12 years, we pull back the curtain on the RBN blogosphere and discuss how and why it all happens — and how you help shape what we blog about. 

How It All Started

At 5 a.m. Central Standard Time on January 23, 2012, we sent out an email “blast” to 22 people, all friends and family — literally. Since then, we’ve posted a blog each day the energy markets are open — about 250 days a year — on pretty much any energy topic you can imagine.

From the start, a key driver behind writing, posting and distributing an absolutely free blog was to get the word out — first of all that RBN existed, and also that the folks who work here live and breathe energy, that we have a deep understanding of how energy markets work, and that we love what we do with the passion of old-school rock & rollers. Our members — everyone who has signed up for blog access — are a huge part of all that. Many of you have told us over the years that you love to start your workday hearing our take on what’s happening in the hydrocarbon world — and, more recently, the overlapping worlds of hydrocarbons and renewables. That yin and yang, that back and forth between our blogs and our members is a big part of what makes this fun for us and, hopefully, for you.

Who Are You?

So, who are RBN’s 40,000 members? The general digital audience data that Google, LinkedIn and others tabulate indicate that about 60% of RBN members classify themselves as oil & gas, 11% midstream/pipeline, 9% capital markets, 6% utilities/distributors, and 13% refining, chemicals and “other.” The stats are a little fuzzy, and we think that a significant share of those classified as oil & gas are really in the midstream sector. About 70% of our audience is from the U.S., 16% from Canada, and 14% from the rest of the world. The three cities that represent our largest readership are Houston, Calgary and New York, in that order. The statistics providers also estimate the job function of our subscribers, with business development and operations/management being the largest segments, followed by finance, sales/marketing, and engineering. 

We also track the readership we get each day. The more hits we get, the more interest there is in the topic we cover. As a general rule, anything that hints that the topic has something to do with price gets a disproportionately larger share of hits. And blogs that do a deep dive on high-profile, breaking news events are always popular. On the last day of each year, we publish our list of Top 10 blogs for the year to provide an indication of what’s hot, and what’s not. In 2022, there were four crude oil blogs in the Top 10, two gas, two refined fuels, one NGLs and one about renewables. This year the distribution has been somewhat more even across the categories — there’s a lot of interesting things happening across the energy spectrum.

As you might expect, anytime we see an unusually high level of interest in a particular blog, we’ll work hard to write more blogs on the topic, diving deeper into what you tell us you want to learn more about. That is especially true when we get a large number of comments from readers‚ expressing thanks for covering the topic, or sometimes telling us they differ with our conclusion — and explaining why.

How Blogs ‘Happen’

The process of getting our blog into your inbox each day is a team effort involving a number of RBN staffers, including a few who work exclusively on the blog development and publication process as well as our market analysts. (And don’t forget our all-important song blurbs, which are written by RBN’s own managing director of musicology. No joke!) There is a daily editorial meeting where blog topics are discussed, and the status of various blogs “in the hopper” is assessed. 

Ideally, we have a couple of weeks’ worth of blogs in progress at any one time, and an extensive list of prospective blogs, some of which eventually are completed — some others never see the light of day.   Each blog goes through an editorial gauntlet that not only checks for facts and catches typos (well, 99.9% of them), but also ensures that the blog meets our content quality specifications and hits the right tone and style — so when you read a blog, you know it came from RBN.

What is that tone and style? Well believe it or not, we have a style manual, just like any other publisher.   Or perhaps a bit different from most publishers. Here’s a subset of some of what we aspire to do with our blog content:

RBN Blog Style

The style and tone of an RBN blog is casual, irreverent, occasionally humorous, and usually musically themed. That does not mean dumbed down. It certainly does not mean offensive.  RBN blog titles are important. They should be creative, if possible humorous but always highly relevant to the topic of the blog. Most of the time they are plays on song titles, but we also occasionally use other pop-culture references.

A blog is a story. Not in the journalistic sense. But in the “‘I’m telling you a story” sense. It is written as if the author is having a conversation with the reader. It ties some important development in the energy industry to data and some conclusion that is meaningful to the reader. As such it should flow naturally through important topics without straying on to tangential matters.

We are not journalists. We are analysts. We rarely quote third parties. Instead, we quote RBN analytics, research and reports. We are not unbiased — we have a point of view. On the other hand, we don’t go out of our way to take controversial positions. We do not have a political or policy agenda and avoid doing blogs that lean in that direction.

Many of our readers say that a key benefit of our blogs is our assessment of the topics we select to blog about in the first place. We endeavor to select educational or meaningful topics that are relevant to current developments in the energy markets.

Oh, one more thing: While most RBN blogs are written by RBN staffers, we do welcome guest writers with expertise in an important subject who want to take a crack at blogging, RBN style. It’s harder than many would guess, but if you think you’ve got what it takes, please get in touch. You can send an email to blogosphere@rbnenergy.com and describe what topics you have in mind, and if possible, provide a sample of your writing. We’ll get back to you if it looks like there could be a fit.

Why RBN Blogs Are Free

Why does RBN put so much effort into writing blogs and then give them away for free? At the most altruistic level, RBN is all about distributing the highest-quality, most actionable energy market analytics to the broadest audience possible. Energy markets work best when everyone knows what’s going on — and why. Historically that has been a challenge, since only industry insiders and folks with the resources to pay for expensive publications from specialty energy market publishers have access to detailed, top-notch market intelligence. And there’s another problem: Most of these publications cater to specific industry segments — oil publications to oil executives, gas reports to gas traders, etc. At RBN we want oil execs to read about important developments in NGL markets, for traders of refined fuels to understand what is happening with natural gas prices, and so on, because — and this is our primary thesis —understanding interconnections across energy markets is key. That’s the reason we select a different segment of the market each day and post a blog about something that is meaningful not only to folks in that segment, but that is relevant to anyone paying attention to important energy market developments.

Of course, there is a more practical rationale underlying the dissemination of RBN blogs. Obviously, you can’t make a living doing a lot of work to develop a daily blog and then give it away for free. Yup, there is a financial motive. Our blogs promote RBN subscription reports and consulting services. We hope that our blogs will generate interest in our daily, weekly and monthly reports covering everything from Appalachia natural gas to Permian crude and from NGL exports to refined products. And don’t forget our Backstage Pass, which (among other things) gives you unfettered access to our entire catalog of blogs on every conceivable energy-related topic. Check out Backstage Pass and all our reports here.

Furthermore, we work hard to select blog topics that highlight RBN’s consulting business. Our services range from strategic advice in fundamental market shifts, to due diligence in acquisitions and asset sales, to expert help in legal and regulatory arenas, to assistance in the development of new markets unfamiliar to our clients. Our strength is a deep understanding of practical, commercial aspects of energy markets, combined with a world-class analytics capability. Databases and spreadsheets will get you halfway there.  But real-world commercial expertise is necessary to fully assess market challenges and opportunities.

Our blog-based business model has worked well. More blog readers have translated to more report subscribers and a fully engaged consulting team. What we learn from our blog audience has application to our consulting engagements. And while our consulting work is always totally confidential, it helps us keep our finger on the pulse of energy markets. For example, when we get the same question from several clients, we know that there is something going on beneath the surface.

Thanks for joining us on this celebration of the 40,000th member of the RBN blogosphere. We’re adding more subscribers every day. If you know someone who ought to be an RBN member, send them this link.  The price is right. Absolutely free!!

“Roamin’ Thru the Gloamin’ with 40,000 Headmen” was written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi. It appears as the second song on side two of Traffic’s second studio album, Traffic. The song was originally released in February 1968 as the B-side to the single “No Face, No Name and No Number,” released from the debut album of Traffic, Mr. Fantasy. Traffic songwriter Jim Capaldi has said the song was inspired by “a hash-fueled dream.” The song's lyrics describe a demi-god following 40,000 headmen across the sea to a cave where they have stored a large amount of treasure. Rumors of extra-strong hashish being available in London at the time of the song’s writing and recording seem to be substantiated. Personnel on the record were: Steve Winwood (vocals, guitar, organ, bass), Jim Capaldi (drums), and Chris Wood (flute, Coca-Cola can, sleigh bells).

The album, Traffic, is the second studio album by the band of the same name. Recorded between January-May 1968 at Olympic in London and Record Plant in New York City, the album was produced by Jimmy Miller. Released in October 1968, the album went to #17 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. One single was released from the LP. Traffic member Dave Mason left the band for the second time after the recording of this album.

Traffic was an English rock band formed in Birmingham, England, in 1967 by Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood. Mason left the band in 1968 to pursue a solo career that produced some hit singles in the early 1970s. The band broke up in 1969 when Winwood left to form the supergroup Blind Faith. In 1970, Blind Faith broke up, and Winwood, along with Capaldi and Wood, reformed Traffic. In 1974, the group broke up again, with Winwood and Capaldi going on to successful solo careers, while Wood continued as a session musician. Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The band released eight studio albums, three live albums, 10 compilation albums, and 13 singles. Chris Wood died in 1983 and Jim Capaldi died in 2005. Fourteen members passed through the group until its final breakup after its last album in 1994. 




Thank you for making facts fun. In both worlds of energy & entertainment (country music) I truly enjoy the daily brief. As a professional who drives content myself, I fully understand the challenge it takes to drive engagement. 


40,000 active readers is not small feat. 


All the best in what's to come & again, thank you for making our Industry a better place for all.


- JB