Coverage on a music blog in 2005 is much different than it is today, yet there are still thousands of articles on how to get your young band coverage, from pitching writers to writing good subject lines. There’s a new one everyday it seems. Like this one!
That chart above is Google searches for “music blog.” It started to ramp up in 2005, peaked in 2009, and now it’s back to 2005 levels. Curios, huh?
I started Buzzgrinder in 2001, and the golden era was 2005 to 2008. The iPhone came out in 2007, right in the middle of that, and suddenly the average reader wasn’t just sitting at work on a desktop machine, or a laptop in a coffee shop. They were online more often, and in more places; in line at the bank, bored at a show, on the toilet, or just waking up.
Then as social media ramped up (Twitter and Facebook really got going in 2006), a brand new means of exposure for media outlets sprung up! You’re probably reading this article because it was linked from a social media platform. That just did not happen in 2005.
It’s a busy world online. Many of the music blogs you’re trying to get covered in publish 15+ times a day. And within your genre, that could mean 200+ posts a day across several sites. Your coverage will sit between a post about a washed-up singer getting arrested (which every outlet will re-publish) and a song premiere by some NASDAQ-listed company sponsored buzz-band. By 3pm EST, the Tweet announcing your new song will be a tumble weed rolling down an empty street.
Your coverage is also competing with, “that dress.” BuzzFeed wrote 30+ posts about the dress.
And the music fans you’re trying to win over are going to see movies, or watching the latest episodes of their favorite TV show on Netflix, all while answering work emails and deleting newsletters from The GAP, plus trying to keep up with the five podcasts they subscribe to, each of which is promoted by the show and their guests 13 time a day on social media.
Consider the person who consumes all of that. Then remember before they get out of bed in the morning they’re getting notifications from their friends and family on Facebook, SnapChat, and Instagram. Ongoing discussions about parties, travel arrangements, romantic dates, and shoe shopping.
By the time you get done reading this four new memes will have popped up online. And by tomorrow one of them will make the five o’clock news. A week later your parents will ask you via Facebook if you heard about it.
I’m not saying don’t pitch. Please, do. Just be aware that the landscape has changed. For a young band, pitching today is as difficult ever, but the impact of that coverage is not the same.
On February 10th, 2010, news broke that Howard Jones left Killswitch Engage (a Grammy nominated band) who were in the middle of touring. I was standing outside Irving Plaza in New York City (this is when I was running Noise Creep for AOL Music), at their March 18th or 19th show when venue staff came out to announce that Jones would not be singing that night. Nearly everyone at the front of line, die-hard KsE fans who probably bought tickets months before, were aghast. They were blind-sided by the news.
Month old news about a Grammy nominated band on big tour and fans at the NYC tour stop didn’t even know. That was just five years ago.
We’re all at a different places today, aren’t we? You feel it, right? The notifications, the Sunday night emails from work, the glut of new shows to watch, that new album, the stack of magazines you haven’t read yet, the texts from co-workers.
Your music isn’t just competing for coverage with others artists in your genre on the cool music blog, you’re competing with the next ‘Harlem Shake’ or the pop singer who messed up the National Anthem at an NBA game 12 minutes ago. I’m not saying it’s fair, or right, but I’m saying your coveted music blog coverage is a drop in the ocean of track listing announcements, movie star drama, and possibly the next meme that will become THE Halloween costume later this year.
Seth Werkheiser is the quiz master of metal trivia at Skulltoaster. He’s also the founder of some music sites you may have heard of, including Noise Creep (2009) + Buzzgrinder (2001). He’s anti-Facebook, anti-clickbait, and anti-growth hacking. You should most definitely follow him on Twitter. Yes, right now.