I’ve seen a number or articles recently proclaiming the death of the music blog.
I was certainly reluctant at the begging to start this blog, because music blogging felt dead.
I hadn’t regularly read a music blog for years, and looking around at established blogs, public metrics such as reactions, comments and shares on Facebook tend to be thin on the ground, and often from people connected to the blog or the band.
For example, one of my favourite established blogs had a post about Bobby Gillespie refusing to dance on “This Week” with literally hundreds of reactions, comments and shares, whilst news of a relatively popular up-and-coming artist’s new album on the same blog had only 2 likes – possibly from the bassists mum and partner! No comments on post or facebook and no shares.
I’m much more interested in discovering new artists than celebrities doing funny things, so I didn’t really feel like I had much to offer, in the saturated world of the music blog, where it often feels like there are more people writing them than reading them.
So, why did I start this one, regardless?
I’m not a poetic music writer who can paint pictures with words that make people wish they were at the gig I’m writing about (though to be fair, I haven’t read a review like that since the days of the music weeklies in the late 80s/early 90s).
Nor am I a technical music writer, I don’t know my c# from my b minor.
And. to be honest, I’m more interested in photographing bands than writing about them!
My epiphany came whilst reading a review of the IndieTracks festival in an established blog.
It’s a festival I’ve never been to, but it’s always appealed, with a C-86 type lineup of old and new bands, and it is held at a heritage steam railway in Derbyshire. Sounds right up my street!
But the review in question largely talked about which bands the reviewer personally liked and disliked. Whilst some people may find it useful, I’m more interested in what the atmosphere is like, what kind of people go, is it crowded? Is there any trouble? Is the sound good? Is there a long trek from the train to the festival? Is the food cheap and cheerful or overpriced and pretentious? The lineup will be different next year if I decide to go, so I’m not really interested in which bands had an off day and which were on fire, and surely a review of a festival based at a heritage railway site should at least mention the steam railway in passing, even if it’s not the reviewer’s thing?
Clearly there is no “one size fits all” review, different people are looking for different things, and the great thing about blogging is that unlike traditional print media, it’s relatively affordable to get into and experiment with, so if you feel like you’ve got something to add, you can give it a go and see if anybody is interested.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with writing about the bands you want to write about, without caring whether anybody reads it or not, I believe that every artist has a potential audience and I want to do all I can to help the artists I like get in front of that audience. And of course, if you get a pass for a show then you have a moral responsibility to help publicise it the best you can. I only go to shows I’m interested in, so my enthusiasm is genuine, but it takes more than enthusiasm to promote a show, and finding an angle that interests an audience isn’t easy, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and there are signs I’m making progress.
It was a huge personal thrill to photograph the legendary Billy Joel, the 6th biggest selling American artist in history, and it’s great that my review of his concert has had thousands of hits. But in some ways it’s frustrating that reviews of lesser known artists I’m enthusiastic about tend to get much less interest – I feel like I’m preaching to the converted and let’s face it, he doesn’t really need the publicity 🙂 Whether it’s your kind of music or not, you almost certainly know who he is and at least one of his tunes!
Therefore, in many ways I’d much rather tell you about The Coathangers, who there is a good chance you’ve never heard or, but would enjoy! (Psst, they are playing in Manchester and Liverpool next week).
Or Laura Gibson
Or Vera Sola
Or Hands off Gretel
I could go on all day, but you get the picture!
But then, looking at the stats, some of those Billy Joel fans checked out some of the lesser known artists I’ve featured!
I don’t know all the answers, and there is much work to be done, but Live Music Pix is going from strength-to-strength, and when someone tells you they’ve bought tickets for a gig as the direct result of of your preview or review, then you really feel like you’re doing something right and it motivates you to keep going!
Like anything else in life, you can either simply accept that music blogging is dead and be sad, or turn a blind eye to the lack of interest in your blog, or recognise that people are still listening to music, roll your sleeves up and ask yourself what you are going to do to engage them!
As an example, in Liverpool EVOL and Harvest Sun are widely regarded as 2 of the best promoters in the city, and with good reason. They are music fans first and foremost, and you could probably pick any one of their gigs at random and have a great night even if you’d never heard of the band before, but sadly people don’t tend to do that.
When they post up their flyers listing their upcoming gigs, I usually recognise a few names, but there are usually lots that I’ve never heard of. I always mean to check them out but never find the time.
Realising that I may not be the only one, I decided to post up a listing of the gigs with a video of each headliner. Not only did I enjoy having an excuse to sit down and listen to all the bands, but it’s getting daily hits! Not huge numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but I always feel that if there are people interested in something, then there will be more if you can figure out how to reach them. It’s not easy these days with social media becoming more complex to reach people, but I’m up for the challenge!
Putting yourself in the position of a potential reader and asking yourself whether your post provides any value is always a good start to building your audience in my opinion.
No blog is ever going to appeal to everyone, and experimentation doesn’t always work, but as long as the blogging community carry on finding ways to engage their audience, we will continue to be an essential part of music promotion.
IMHO news of the death of the music blog has been greatly exaggerated! Indeed, we’re only just getting started!
This blog isn’t for everyone, but if you find it interesting or even just like looking at the pictures, please consider liking on Facebook, and Instagram and share with people you think would be interested. Thanks!