Please Think Twice Before Starting Your Own Music Blog

Hello, everyone! Thank you for finding a little time in your surely busy schedule to spend a few moments browsing our blog. We generally post about site creators who are changing the industry, but today we’re asking aspiring professionals to think twice before creating a site of their own. Why? You’ll have to read on to find out!

This site exists to promote the future of the entertainment industry, and to do that we need input from people like you and your entertainment-loving friends. If you have any questions about the content in this article, or if you have an artist you would like to see featured on this blog, please contact james@haulix.com. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have spent any amount of time browsing this blog over the better part of the last two years then you know we are all about promoting driven young creative minds. That said, we have also become incredibly aware of just how many people with nothing unique or interesting to say believe launching their own music blog will somehow further their presence in an already overcrowded industry. Furthermore, we’ve also seen genuinely great writers fall victim to the foolish belief it’s easy to be both a writer and site manager. It’s as if they feel the best way to get exposure is to take on as much responsibility as possible, regardless of whether or not they’re able to handle all the associated tasks. 

I know we spend a lot of time promoting people who run music blogs as the future leaders of the industry, but I beg of you – PLEASE think twice before starting your own music blog. There are literally thousands of sites already in existence, and the areas of entertainment covered across those blogs are just as numerous. There are hip-hop sites, rock sites, pop sites, punk sites, black metal sites, hardcore sites, country sites, and EDM sites, and countless sites that attempt to cover two or more areas of music at once. Some work hard to separate themselves from their competition with insightful original content, while far more seem perfectly fine posting press releases-in full or summarized-and calling it ‘news.’ Still others forget news altogether and solely create editorials, while some just post song streams. The possibilities are essentially endless, and considering the boom in new sites over the last half decade or so it seems safe to say all, if not most of the obvious reasons for starting a new site have already been claimed. There is no area of music lacking a site to promote its artists, except for maybe regional talent from a specific area of the globe. Those sites don’t yet exist in great numbers simply because the target market for such an endeavor is far too small to ever support a writer’s career, but if you poke around several such sites are in existence across the US.

The reason I bring all this up is not to discourage your journalistic aspiration, but rather to challenge you. If you truly believe your calling life is to launch a new music blog, then I must insist you first answer the following question:

What would my site bring to music fans/music blogging that does not currently exist somewhere online?

If your first thought is something related to your interest in promoting new bands, you’re going to need to think just a bit harder before telling me your answer. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to artist discovery, and those sites range from outlets focusing on a specific genre, to publications specializing in naming the next big contenders for top 40 radio play. In fact, I’m willing to wager the market for sites promoting unsigned/under-appreciated talent is just as overcrowded as the markets those unsigned bands you hope to promote exist within. Almost everyone covers small talent, at least on some level, and almost every site owner will tell you those posts rarely bring in a sizable audience. If they do, it’s because the artist being featured has already accrued a decent online following. The number of people who tune in simply because they like to discover new music is low, and they rarely commit to one outlet when seeking out new talent. 

Secondly, if you think video or podcasting will set you apart, I must again implore you to dig a little deeper. The importance of multimedia features in entertainment blogging has been building for as long as social media has been a trendy thing to be a part of, so anyone hoping to jump in and change the game now needs to have something really special in mind. A single podcast or video series is not going to cut it, at least enough to justify further crowding the already overstuffed world of music journalism. If you hope to use multimedia to set yourself apart then you’re going to need multiple ideas that can be enacted over a relatively short amount of time. You also need to account for how you’ll find all the time needed to create, cut, and edit together said content. All possibly without generating any substantial amount of income, of course.

I don’t want to be the guy that squashes your dreams of music journalism greatness, but I also want to ensure you’re not taking on too much because you believe it’s the only way to gain the attention of industry professionals. If you want to write about music, or if you want to make multimedia features based on the music you enjoy, there are many great outlets around the world who would absolutely love to feature your content. If you’re as driven and hard working as you would need to be in order to even consider taking on something as time-consuming as running your own site, why not ditch the unnecessary stress associate with managing a contributing team and instead focus on refining your already developing skills as a journalist? A great article, or better yet- a consistent streak of strong, original content covering a wide variety of artists-will go much further when trying to find work in the industry that claiming to be the editor of yet another music blog that only a small group of music connoisseurs even know exist. It’s cool, I guess, but it doesn’t look as great on a resume as you may believe. 

Think about it: If you were a major publication seeking a new team member, would you hire a regular contributor to places like Noisey, Pitchfork, and Consequence Of Sound, or would you give the gig to the person who owns the relatively unknown URL ‘muzicnewz.com’?

It’s not impossible to stand out as someone particularly amazing by running your own site, but it is a hell of a lot harder than standing out as a great writer who is connected with the most influential publications currently in existence. That’s not stated to discourage or break your dreams, but rather to offer a better understanding of what the industry considers when seeking new professionals. The DIY route will always have its champions, but for those who want to play in the big leagues are going to need a lot more than the motivation to buy and maintain a domain in order to solidify their necessity in the modern music industry. Before you launch your own site, I urge you consider first trying your hand at contributing to whatever sites currently in existence you follow the most. If those avenues prove fruitless, research and try applying to other sites. Someone will bring you on. That is, unless you have no skills whatsoever and are unable to string together enough words to create a pitch letter. If that should have to be the case, I also suggest not pursuing this career path whatsoever. There are many more, far less frustrating paths to success in music. Only pursue writing if its the truly what you want, and only launch a blog if you wholeheartedly believe you have a unique vision to share that simply would not fit anywhere else online. 

If you really want to write and absolutely cannot resist the urge to buy a domain, might I launching a portfolio page. Use it to collect your various articles from around the web and let that side be the web page you work to maintain. No extra staff, no content calendars, and no tasks that carry anywhere near as much stress or frustration that typically follows the launch of a new blog. As people no doubt told you when you were young, “Keep it simple.“ Work hard and keep your connections strong. If you can do that to the best of your abilities, everything else will follow in time.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.