This is the digital age and, within this age, a lot of music fans have turned to the internet to create platforms to write and review about the music that they love. There are so many platforms now available for people to use as blogs too; Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, and more, have all seen their user base soar in recent years. People have flocked to create blogs that are topical and focused on certain aspects – in this case, we’re looking at those who create blogs that focus on music.
But the most important question when setting up your music blog is this: which platform should you go with? Natalie Webb (@natalie_ihw), who runs What If I Had a Music Blog, says that she’s had problems with “Blogger, Google Analytics, and Tumblr being a royal pain in the backside.”
WordPress is one of the more popular sites to use, as you can use it for free or pay for the premium package. If you do use the site for free, you have a set amount of themes that you can use but will not receive any support should you have any questions or problems. However, saying that, it’s still so popular because it’s simply, easy to install on a hosting server, and can have plenty of plug-ins added too.
Once you’ve chosen which platform you will be using, you then have to go about creating content that will engage a wide audience. But the problem is creating original content that will generate traffic for your site/blog. Sean Reid (@seanreid86), editor of Already Heard, agrees and says, “Because there are so many sites/blogs like ours out there, we need to be producing a constant stream of content. It’s frustrating but unless you’re not posting something regularly throughout the working day and aren’t appearing in peoples Twitter/Facebook feeds, then you’re kind of forgotten about.”
Already Heard assistant editor Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright) admits that real life can get in the way – “The single hardest thing is just finding the time and energy to achieve and do everything that you want, as most of us are running sites and writing unpaid around our full time day jobs. Finding the motivation and time to spend hours transcribing interviews, coding content or proofing writers contributions can be tough at the end of a long day in the office.”
Sometimes, the problem can be finding the right content to post about. Lindsey Gamble (@LindseyGamble_), editor and founder of hip-hop and R&B blog Hard In the Paint, has struggled to find the ‘right’ hip-hop artists, despite being based in Boston, a large city – the hip-hop scene over there is rather small. He’s had to learn how to deal with friendships with hip-hop artists within the city to ensure that he has good quality content going up on the blog. He says, “While I would love to support everyone, it’s important for me to separate the friendship from the business part so to say. At the end of the day, my goal is showcase quality music so regardless of my relationship with an artist, I’m going to always keep that at the forefront.”
When running a music blog, there’s a lot of different things that you need to keep an eye on in order to run a tight ship. The workload can vary depending on the size of your blog, the size of your team (if you have one), and possibly your position within the blog. Natalie runs her blog on her own, so she has full control over her work, and says “WIIHAMB is just me, so I can just do what I like… but I do have to do everything. The majority of “work” I do is research, especially seeing as I post a new song every daY (usually) without fail. I spend a lot of time digging around the internet for new artists and new tracks. I come up with a lot of ideas for features but the majority of them never see the light of day. Trawling through emails is definitely something I should spend a lot more time doing as well!”
Lindsey adds that time is a big factor in workload. “I work a 40 hour job so most of the work on the site happens in the evenings, late nights, and on the weekends. In order to run it and keep it going, you have to have time and be able to make sacrifices. In the early stages, I spent a lot of nights in writing and building the site and cut down on the going out to parties and bars. After the first two years or so, we developed a solid rep and now it’s just a matter of pushing out content on a daily basis, utilizing social media to promote, and coming up with new ideas,” he says.
With all that in mind, what would these music blogger advise budding bloggers to do when setting up their own music blog?
Lindsey says “Find a niche, and realize that’s going to take a lot of work.” Sean echoes this statement and says, “Don’t expect to have instant success. It can take time to build an audience. Treat your readers with respect and listen to their feedback.”
But, perhaps most importantly, the most crucial bit of advice comes from Natalie – “Read your e-mails.”