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It’s officially the month of February, which means we have less than two weeks until the most despised, commercial, and shallow holiday of all time is upon us. Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re a blogger worth their weight in digital text then you’ve already begun brainstorming content you can run around the world’s biggest Hallmark holiday. If you haven’t thought to begin planning yet, you might want to, but before you do that you should read the rest of this post.
Having been writing about alternative music for over half a decade at this point, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing a flood of similar content make its way through my feeds every time the second week of February rolls around. Be it lists of the best and/or worst love songs of all time, or a collection of the most romantic moments in certain films, it seems everyone in pop culture writing believes the best way to reach readers is through regurgitated list ideas that offer one or two variations, if that, from every other list found online. I don’t entirely disagree, but I do think we are all doing a disservice to our readers by settling for the first few ideas that come to mind. We all know Whitney Houston sang what is arguably the most romantic love song of all time, and we also know that no one will ever top J. Geils’ anthem for the heartbroken. We also know that Jesse Lacey wrote quite a few songs in the early years of Brand New that may or may not have been his own version of a love song. All of this has been listed, debated, and covered to death. It still gets traffic, but so does sharing the number one clip on YouTube on any given day. If you’re okay with easy traffic, fine, but if you want to create exciting content then you need to think a bit more outside the box.
I’m not putting down listicles, and I sure as hell don’t want to make you believe that discussing the songs that do or do not evoke a sense of romance is stupid. It’s not. These conversations have been had throughout the history of pop culture, and as far as I can tell they will continue for as long as there are multiple artists creating art simultaneously. We all engage with art in our own way, and we all find the songs that mean something special to us for reasons entirely our own. We might relate to the romantic anthems played on the radio, but tracks like “My Heart Will Go On” and “Tiny Dancer” are rarely the songs that hit closest to home. They’re thematic staples, and as such they elicit a similar reaction from almost everyone who hears them. They’re safe, at least to an extent, and in my opinion covering them is rather boring. There is something to be said for giving people what they want, but there is a lot more to be said for someone who tries to give people something they don’t know they need. That’s what great writing does, and as crazy as it sounds Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to forge real connections with your readers through original content.
Why is now such a prime time to connect with your audience? The answer is actually quite simple: Love.
You see, we all have an idea of what love is and we go through lives trying our best to find someone that we believe compliments that idea best, but at the end of the day the numerous way we as a culture define love is almost too varied to measure. Some see it as co-dependency, while other see it as giving all of yourself in the name of another’s happiness. Still others see the whole thing as a marketing scam, built by corporations and engrained into society at large through massive marketing schemes. I’m not here to say whether any of those ideas are right or wrong, but I am here to encourage you to share you idea of love, regardless of what its definition may be. People everywhere wonder through life asking themselves if they truly understand what it means to love or to be loved, and it’s only through sharing our own thoughts and experiences that we as a global community will be able to really grasp its meaning. That’s not to say your content will change the world if you’re simply being yourself, but it might change someone’s perspective on life, and if you can do that there really is no limit to your capabilities as a writer.
Let me give you an example: Last year, my friend Dan Bogosian wrote a wonderful piece for Consequence Of Sound about his relationship with Saves The Day, as well as the person responsible for introducing him to the band’s sound. It’s a great piece filled with emotional ups and downs that I must encourage everyone to read, but if you don’t have time I’ll summarize by saying that Dan’s experience with the music of Saves The Day has taught him not only a greater appreciation for life, but also for his relationships with others. Through reading his words, I too found a new appreciation for the people in my life. I was carried back to the times when friends both close and long since forgotten introduced me to music and films that would go on to change my life. I thought of the people I thanked and the ones I did not, the ways we grew apart, and the impact distance can have on even the closest of friends.
I wasn’t present for Dan’s experiences with his friend or his times seeing Saves The Day live, but reading his words it’s impossible to ignore his love of both. As he struggles to understand why things change over time, he touches on universal concerns we all share about our relationship with those around us, and in doing so he forges a connection with us. We too know those feelings, though not because of the exact same circumstances, and learning how someone else got through those times influences the way he live moving forward.
When you’re planning and hopefully drafting Valentine’s Day content this week, think of the experiences and memories in your life that taught you lessons about love. Find the songs that set the perfect mood for that first kiss you’ll never forget, as well as the album that helped you forget the lover who couldn’t be trusted. Reflect on all of this and choose the stories you’re most comfortable with sharing, then proceed to write until you cannot write any more. Pour yourself into these pieces, letting readers know why you do or do not believe in love and the music that helps cement your belief. If you can do that, people will respond. They might not comment at first, but they will carry your words and thoughts with them. They may spin the same songs, or they may relate to the situation being described and think of songs they know that fit the mood even better. Whatever the case, they will connect with you, and forging that connection is the first step towards creating a lasting and rewarding relationship with your audience.