Working in the music industry has provided me with the opportunity to attend numerous industry conferences, panels, and events. I’ve spoken at some places, but more often than not I’ve sat in the same crowd alongside many of you, hoping something would be said on stage that related to my career. What I have found however, is that the vast majority of music conferences do not put much time or effort into engaging music writers, despite the fact a good portion of these events are attended and covered by people currently trying their best to make a living with words. I think a change is needed, and I’m writing this today to see if I am alone in my belief.
I believe we need a yearly music blogger conference. This event would start as a one day gathering, but in time it would ideally become something much bigger. The day would be filled with panels, workshops, and a keynote from an influential industry figure, as well as a few performances to cap off the night. I have brainstormed a few topics/events to provide a better idea of what might be covered at this event:
- Monetization Is The New Selling Out: Making money without betraying your readers
- How To Handle Controversy: A beginner’s guide to breaking news, checking facts, and telling the whole story.
- You’re Here To Work: Maintaining professionalism at shows and events
- Tour Sponsorships: What are they, what do they entail, and why should I care?
- Embracing Video: A crash course in creating great visual content
- Branding: The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Your Blog
- Keeping Exclusives Exclusive: Making the most of every premiere you get
- Conflicts Of Interest: How to keep your projects separate, yet equal
- It’s Bigger Than Me: Building a community with your readers
- Stop Asking Bad Questions: Interviews tips, tricks, and pitfalls
These are literally the first things that came to mind, but I think it provides a good range of topics and possibilities. Given the number of controversies that have arisen in 2015 alone, the need for a formal workshop on properly reporting such stories is very much needed in blogging right now. Likewise, I think we all have seen a blogger who was less than professionals when covering a live event. Maybe they want a selfie with the band, or maybe they blow off interviews to catch their favorite artists’ set. Whatever the case, we need to try and stop that trend before a select few make us all look like fools.
Having given almost a decade of my life to music blogging, nothing bothers me more than when people treat my chosen career path as a hobby or something to be laughed at. I have dedicated myself fully to this craft for a very long time, and though I am still not where I want to be I take great pride in everything I have accomplished. I know many of you do as well, which is why we should find a way to come together as an industry and push for real, meaningful change. I know not everyone who needs a conference like this will attend, but simply have the option available to people would be better than what we have now, which is essentially nothing.
I understand that the beauty of blogging stems from its ability to give anyone a voice, but as music writers trying to make a living with our words we need to hold ourselves and our peers to higher standards than simply doing whatever makes us happy. If we want people to take us seriously then we need to be serious about what is happening in our industry as well as what we as individuals are doing to make it better. So far, I see a lot of people complaining that things need to change, but no one is actually doing anything to make a difference. I want to change that, but only if you are willing to help me make it happen.
So tell me, what do you think?
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.