(A follow-up to my assertion that music blogs are dying. Here are some ways for them to maybe not die.)
Update, 11/10/11: We Listen For You and I discussed this on their Soundcast.
1) Why are you blogging?
Just for fun? Do you want to be a music journalist? Help your favorite bands reach a wider audience? Share your unique expertise in an era/genre? Help your friends stay on top of new music? Become a better writer? Make ad revenue from generating “mad hits”? Get free concert tickets? Prioritize. Ask yourself: what do I have to offer? Who I am doing this for? Am I wasting people’s time? I’m not telling you not to do it. But don’t look for a megaphone if you don’t have anything to say.
2) Post the best music, not the best music in your inbox
It’s easy to post something that got sent to you that day: it feels fresh and it saves you the trouble of generating thoughtful content that you might actually care about. Guess what: everybody else got that email! And the band probably put it on their Facebook already! Post something you actually like.
3) Stop posting news items
Is ___________ one of your favorite bands? Are you genuinely excited about their new single/album/tour dates/video/remix? No? Don’t post that shit. It’s already on Pitchfork, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound and the Fader and you’re not going to get Google hits.
4) Stop posting so much
Seriously. We all read Pitchfork. Putting up 8 posts a day gets you single-post drive-by Hype Machine hits, not readers. Why are you doing this again?
5) “A lot of my readers don’t read Pitchfork.”
What, all 10 of them? C’mon.
6) Be a champion for bands
One thing blogs can do that other publications can’t: be geeks. If you think a band deserves more attention, post their single. Review their album. Do an interview with them. Post the video. Post the next video. Post the tour dates. Write about the album again two months later — you’re still listening to it, aren’t you? Repetition can make a big difference! If you post a song once, it disappears. Think about it this way: if you posted a new band once a day every weekday, that’s over 250 bands a year. How many albums will you actually buy this year, 10? 20? How many good albums come out in a year? Get behind those. Promoting 250 bands is not “tastemaking”: it’s stupid.
7) Write about old music
A lot of new music sucks! Spotify, Grooveshark, YouTube, etc. make it easy to post about the classics (or even albums from 5 years ago) without legal worries, finally, and everybody’s posting that new Lana Del Rey remix today anyway, right? Stand out from the crowd.
8) Have feelings
Did this album mean something to you in high school? Did it soundtrack a romantic date? Did you listen to it on a plane moving to the other side of the country? Tell a story. Share why the music affected you. Maybe it’ll affect other people, too.
9) Listen to music more than once before writing about it
This is straight-up neuroscience: an album will sound different to you on listen 5, say, than listen 1. Try it. Post music because it’s good, not because it’s good enough to post.
10) Take it seriously
Do you take photos? Buy a real camera. I’m a self-taught photographer: it’s fun! Do you take videos? On your phone? Yeah, don’t do that.
11) But not personally
People have different tastes! Get used to it. Be proud of what you like — if everybody liked what you did, there’d be no need for you to blog, right?
12) Share the wealth
What did you read this week? Where did you hear cool music? Did somebody post some great concert photos? Link to things you enjoy. It builds a community and people will hopefully link right back to you.
13) Post a list of your favorite albums somewhere
It would be nice to know what your taste is before clicking through 5 million posts to try to figure it out. People still have individual tastes, right? (Update: You can find a reasonably complete list of my favorite bands here.)
14) Should you be on Tumblr?
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