In a previous article, I wrote up on 10-rules by Complex Magazine for success from freelance photographers. Luckily enough, here is another “advice” article on how to start a successful Music Blog in this competitive world and for 2013 by Confusion and Brendan Klinkenberg. Music is always around us, it warps our moods, it allows self-expression, its a medicine without a doctors note and over the past few years, sharing music via the internet has been increasing. Music blogging has been changing as much as the music industry itself. Consumers,as a whole, are beginning to look at music differently and the signs are most evident on the internet since so much time is spent on it.
Take it how you want it, here are 7 great pointers thanks to Pigeons and Planes:
1.Fill a void.
Good news: there is a very low barrier to entry when it comes to starting a music blog. Anyone with a computer and Internet access can figure it out, and the cost of creating and maintaining a blog is as little as you want it to be. Bad news: this low barrier to entry means that the competition is high. Anyone can start a music blog, therefore everyone starts a music blog.
Most people who get into music blogging start off by reading other sites, thinking, “Hey, I could do that,” and then trying to replicate it. There are a lot of these people, but don’t worry; they won’t last. The reason why you shouldn’t try to replicate what another blog is doing is pretty simple: it already exists. There are thousands of blogs out there, and with so many of them trying to fill the exact same lane, much of it turns into one big traffic jam.
Instead, you need to be thinking, “What do I wish was out there right now but isn’t?” Why will people go to your site instead of any of the other thousands of blogs? Find something that’s missing, and fill that void.
Lydia, founder of Sunset in the Rearview adds, “There are so many blogs out there today, you have to make yourself stand out. Your strategy is up to you, but some thoughts are unique musical content (go beyond the songs that you can find on any other blog), unique editorial content, or creative forms of delivery (take a look at The Needle Drop for a perfect example). And above all, have fun with it; I guarantee that will be reflected in your writing.”
2.Create Original Content
The days of being able to get away with just posting a bunch of songs and videos and putting one-word descriptions is over. There are still plenty of popular blogs that do that, but they’re only popular because they’re already established. Over the past few years, so many blogs started operating this way that there’s just no need for it anymore, and when someone sees a new blog that’s doing nothing but throwing up songs and videos, there’s no reason to follow. There are new songs and videos everywhere and people expect more from a blog these days.
Think about ways to create value without just relying on new songs and videos. If you despise lists, write your opinions, do interviews, or tell stories. There’s an infinite amount of ways to create something original, and it’s this type of content that is going to make your blog a destination. In 2013, nobody needs help finding the new Lana Del Rey video.
3.Be passionate. Stay passionate.
Jason Grishkoff of Indie Shuffle: “People get into music blogging because they’re passionate about music. If they’re doing it to make money, they’re probably off to a bad start.”
If you’re not passionate about music, starting a music blog is pointless. Don’t even bother. Even if things work out and your blog takes off, there will be a point in the future when writing about music becomes “work.” If anyone has written about music for years and tells you that isn’t the case, they’re lying. The only thing that’s going to get you through that kind of feeling is money or passion, and if you’re writing about music for the pay, you’re probably in the wrong business.
4.Consistency is key.
This might be the biggest tip we can give, because it addresses how much of a grind blogging is. Trying to get your voice out there on the Internet in 2013 is about as difficult a task as you can set for yourself and consistency—just making sure you post new content a few times every day—is one of the keys. People set up new accounts on WordPress or Tumblr daily, what separates the successes from the failures first isn’t going to be the writing, taste or creativity; it’s simply existing. It’s easy to start a publication and envision one, two, or three years down the line having an audience of your own and whatever comes with having a big music blog, what’s hard is sticking out the the one, two, or three years it takes to get there.
Posting songs needs to become a routine. You have to keep an eye out for anything new or interesting. You need to put some care and attention into every single post, because that post could be the first impression a new reader is getting of your site. You can’t let yourself get bored or take any breaks, because no one takes a site seriously if there haven’t been any new posts in a few days. It’s fun work, but it’s exhausting, and the rewards—especially at the beginning—are small. This is the Internet. It never sleeps, and inconsistency will kill you before you’ve even really started.
5.Have a personality.
Khal, who started Rock The Dub and now runs Do Androids Dance: “Some bloggers don’t know how to tell a story or bring personality. That’s not to say that they can’t just present facts, but the blog medium can be a bit more flexible. And don’t just say ‘this song is dope,’ tell the reader WHY it’s dope. Two songs can be dope for vastly different reasons, but if you don’t explain why, how are we to know?”
When you’re an international news source with hundreds of employees, this might not apply. But music blogging is a very personal thing. A lot of it comes down to opinion, and if people are going to trust your opinion, they’re going to need to get to know you and like you, or at least know you and respect you (some of the best music bloggers are assholes).
There’s a way to put your personality into your blog without saying “I” and “me” all the time, sounding like a middle schooler curled up in bed writing a diary. Try not to sound like that, but this is music, not the local weather, so it’s okay to give opinions, personal experiences, and your own unique perspective.
Marc Heilbrunn from Mostly Junkfood: “Network and foster relationships with other bloggers, new media types and artists in your circle. Keep in mind networking is just a buzz word if you’re not cool. Don’t be thirsty, just keep it 100 and you will gain the respect you so desperately crave. When you build and interact with people positively, they will spread word of your good nature and only positive things will result. If you’re a dickhead, it’s over before you even started and no one wants to talk to you. No wonder you’re living with your parents.”
As Marc so eloquently puts it, you need people to spread word of your good nature. Sometimes it’s got nothing to do with your skills or accomplishments. Sometimes it comes down to having the right people like you.
There is hope for all of you who have never been called social butterflies, though. From personal experience I can tell you that while networking is important, it’s more about quality than quantity. I don’t go out to events and try to meet as many people as I can. I have never been particularly good at small talk or conversations with strangers. I may be in a slightly better position if I kissed a little more ass. But over the years, I’ve been able to connect with some of the people that I really do respect, and it’s given me opportunities that I could have never created on my own
7. Be an expert.
It’s still unclear what a music blogger really is. Online writing has combined a lot of separate roles into one, and to do the job well you need to be a critic and reporter at the same time. To be good at either, you need to be an expert.
If you want to participate in the field of criticism, you have to be able to stand in front of your opinions and say confidently that they are the right ones. You say that, knowing perception of music is subjective and that there are other opinions out there, because it is your voice that is important to your reader, and your opinion is valid enough to be expressed. If you’re going to write an album review, or even what you think of a song, that’s going to impact how people react and whether they spend their time on that particular piece of music. To be able to hold that kind of authority you need to be confident in your opinions and writing; never waffle on a point, never let another critic’s review mold your opinion, and stay as honest as possible. Expertise in criticism takes years—it’s an art form in itself—but those are the fundamentals.
Being an expert in your reporting is even more vital. This means fact-checking and copy-editing, and also being able to add your own perspective or layer of knowledge to a piece. When you make stupid mistakes, like getting an artist’s age wrong, you start to lose authority and the reader’s trust. It’s more difficult than it sounds to maintain, but it’s something to take seriously. The reputation of being a trusted news source is ultimately more important than being able to say you were quick to post a shitty quality story ripped from a press release or another blog.