Blogger Spotlight: Tina Roumeliotis (The Daily Listening)

As someone who spends a lot of time writing about the life of those attempting to make a living online, it’s always refreshing to encounter an individual who is more focused on their authenticity than financial gain. There is nothing wrong with wishing to be successful, and there is certainly nothing wrong with wishing your site could be your full time job, but if you’re creating content because you believe it will lead to financial success then you are destined to fail. Success in writing only comes after you have learned to be confident in using your voice to express your opinion regardless of how it impacts your potential for clicks on any given day.

Tina Roumeliotis, founder of The Daily Listening, understands the importance of creating something first and foremost because it’s what you want to do. She knows that longterm success for any website is usually determined by page views, but right now her main focus is creating quality content she and the rest of her staff actually want to read. That is the kind of thing we admire here at the Haulix blog, and just a few weeks ago we asked Tina to share her journey in music with us. You can read highlights from our conversation below.

2015 has been a year where many music blogs have disappeared from the internet, but thanks to outlets like The Daily Listening we are confident there will still be great original content for music fans to enjoy for many years to come. We highly recommend you follow TDL on Twitter and Like their official Facebook.

H: Hello, Tina. Would you please help us begin by introducing yourself and your site to our readers?

T: Hey there! I’m Tina Roumeliotis. I’m from New York and I am the founding-editor-in-chief of The Daily Listening. TDL is a new music site dedicated to cultivating a community of music enthusiasts. I also write for BUZZNET while contributing to a few other sites around the web.

H: You’re active in music beyond the work done on The Daily Listening, but it seems safe to say that is your online hub. What drove you to launch a site all your own in a time when competition for clicks amongst blogs is at an all time high?

T: Very good question! I have been writing for BUZZNET for 3 years now and I just felt it was time to branch out and start something of my own. I am so grateful for everything BUZZNET has allowed me to achieve. I had always wanted to write, especially about music, but I was at a standstill, not really knowing how or where I should start. I spent a lot of time asking people around me for advice but I’ve always found that most of them weren’t too keen on sharing any information, which ultimately frustrated me and left me feeling very lost and isolated. Then BUZZNET came along and I was psyched that I had the opportunity to join a user-generated community where my work was being featured daily. It really heightened my confidence and showed me what I was made of, plus being featured so often really pushed me to step up my game. I really didn’t have anyone in my ear telling me what I should or shouldn’t write about so everything I’ve learned and accomplished over the years has been an independent journey. I had been looking for a paying job in my field for quite some time (honestly, I still am) and I found that I just didn’t fit in to their boxes of what a music journalist should be. Having access to all of that freedom opened my eyes to what I could achieve on my own. I think it spoiled me a little in the sense that I value the opportunity to work independently and be in charge.

As for the competition for clicks, it’s quite overwhelming when you think about it. Before TDL launched, I researched tons of blogs and almost backed out for fear of just being another fish in the sea. But then, as always, while listening to a new record, I was reminded of why I had to do this. We’re only 4 months old, and while my goal is to do everything in my power to make the site a success, I refuse to “sell out,” so to speak just for a page view. My mission is to be genuine while still being 100% professional. If readers would rather read a snarky review with a misleading title over a heartfelt, personal one, so be it. I don’t necessarily view other blogs as competition but rather something we all have in common. Like, “Oh hey! I started my own site so I can ramble about music, too! Right on!”

H: For people who have never visited your site before, how do you describe the content found on The Daily Listening?

T: Our content is 100% authentic. We don’t do gimmicks nor do we partake in any gloss. It’s not about the scene or what everyone says you should be listening to but about what is heard and how music ignites that spark in us. My main goal with this site is to bring back those real, honest conversations about music and our personal stories of connection that have been sadly concealed with how a song sounds or how much it’s selling rather than how it makes you feel. We do touch on the sound of course, but it shouldn’t be the main focus.

Here’s a little breakdown of our main columns:

– Daily Discovery is a way to shine a light on new artists we’ve recently discovered while Get Stoked About is a segment on those on-the-rise artists who are about to take the world by storm.

– Our Listening Party segment is all about curling up in bed or wherever you choose to relax while streaming an album front to back without any distractions. We also give artists the chance to talk about their new release, if possible.

– In Retrospect has been a big one this year being that so many albums are celebrating their 10th and 20th anniversary. We dive into those albums while sharing our own personal stories of what they mean to us, how they impacted the music industry and how they helped shape us into who we are today.

– The Staff Musings segment is basically just a free for all. I tell my writers all the time that if a song pops up from like 5 or 10 years ago and it ignites something in you, write about it. Music, no matter when it was released, is always relevant in my book, so if there’s a meaningful, personal story they want to share, I’m all for it.

– Our monthly mixtapes are a new, fun addition as well. A best of the month, if you will.

H: We mentioned this a moment ago, but there is a great deal of competition amongst blogs covering the same areas of music as you. What do you believe sets your site apart?

T: What sets The Daily Listening apart from most blogs is that deep down we are all just music nerds on our bedroom floors, diving into an album with lyric booklet in hand, discovering our own truths. We’re not trying to impress anyone or show off how cool we are, but if we do impress someone, we’re honored. Haha. To me, music is so personal so when I share my discoveries with the world, it’s almost as if I’m handing you my diary. Of course, two people could listen to the same song and not feel it the way the other has but that’s what makes it so special.

I think the biggest thing for me is refusing to partake in the age-old debate of negativity, which I’ve discussed in Our Policy up on the site. I’ve noticed a lot of pretentiousness in music journalism where a writer feels that their opinion is superior to anyone else’s while completely disrespecting an artist’s time and effort on a project. I’ve lost a lot of respect for certain sites who display that attitude and I think it serves no purpose. There is enough negativity on the internet and I don’t intend on contributing to it. To me, it’s also about the connection between writer and publicist/band. Our job is to share their music with the world and by being immature, you’re not only hurting your own reputation but the reputation of said artist. Kindness really is the only way to go and I hope people see that when they visit the site.

H: The first thing I noticed about your work was your passion for writing. So many young bloggers today believe throwing up an embed and post title counts as being a ‘journalist,’ but you seem to be taking a traditional, far more editorial leaning approach to content. Would you say this is true? Why is the written word so important to you?

T: Oh my gosh, thank you so much! I really appreciate that! I would definitely agree. Although it’s been said that attention spans are at an all time low recently, I really appreciate when someone dives into an album or a song while sharing their perspective on it in a more lengthy piece. It bothers me to learn that a two-sentence article was written by someone who got paid for it yet here I am pouring my heart out for free. I’ve always dreamed of being a magazine editor and to have my work actually published in an actual magazine or newspaper that I can hold with my hands would be the epitome of awesome for me.

I think I was a born a writer, to be honest. I’ve always been introverted and very much in tune with my emotions. I’m always in my head, even while listening to music so that kind of fueled my passion to write about music. The written word is so important because, like music, it holds so much impact. What we choose to write about and put into the world has the potential to reach so many people who need reassurance; to know they’re not alone and that everything they’re feeling is valid. It’s a way to feel out the noise in your head while developing your character. So at the end of the day words really can make an impact. Plus, just the word ‘editorial’ alone makes my inner nerd all giddy. 😛

H: Are there blogs, dead or alive, that inspired the type of content found on The Daily Listening. If so, who?

T: Hmm. Not really, to be honest. I think my music collection and the pitches I receive in my inbox inspires our content. Of course there are a few blogs I adore but mostly I just do my own thing. Oddly enough, it seems to be resonating.

H: How large is your team of contributors? Are you looking to add to the team?

T: As of right now we have 7 contributors, including myself. I’m so proud of each and every one of my writers and I feel so lucky that I was able to find like-minded individuals who share the same values. We are always looking to add to our team so check out the site for more info!

H: With that in mind, how would you describe your ideal Daily Listening team member?

T:  The ideal Daily Listening team member is:

– Obsessed with music (duh)

– Willing to dig deeper than what Top 40 feeds us

– Enjoys writing and sharing personal stories of how a song/album changed or helped their lives in any way

– Enthusiastic

– Down-to-earth and respectful

– Eager to learn

H: A lot of sites exist solely to promote music, which I guess is accomplished anytime a post is made, but when you think about the life of a site over the longterm simply helping people discover music is not a very hard goal to achieve. When you think of The Daily Listening as a company or publication, what goals do you have for its future? Where is all this headed?

T: Good question! As of right now, it is just me and my writers from around the world coming together to “share stories around the campfire” as I like to refer to it. I ultimately started the site because I had been talking about it for quite some time and I got sick of hearing myself talk about it so I went and did it. The mere thought of it turning into a “company,” not gonna lie, makes me starry-eyed as everything I’ve ever dreamed dances in front of me. But at the same time, I’m not not afraid to admit that I’m still a rookie. I’m still learning the ropes of the industry; figuring out what I do and don’t want and how I can create the life that I’ve always wanted. I don’t fit into this scene. I absolutely knew that the day I wrote my first article. So it’s basically about gaining more confidence to be more assertive so I don’t wind up regretting anything down the line. I think we’re headed towards good things, though.

H: I noticed that there does not currently appear to be any kind of advertising on The Daily Listening. Do you have plans to monetize your efforts in the future? If so, can you please shed some light on how you plan to accomplish that?

T: Like I’ve previously stated, we’re only 4 months old. I definitely want to start having some advertising on the site in the near future, but like I said, I’ve never really owned my own site before, so I’m still in the beginning stages of learning everything I need to know to take TDL further. It would be awesome to have some money coming in for a change. 😛

H: Money isn’t everything, obviously, but it is good to have personal goals outside of simply building the best site possible. What are your professionals goals with the site? Do you hope this leads to something bigger, or do you want The Daily Listening to become your full-time role in music?

T: I definitely want to be known for The Daily Listening, along with my previous work but I’m always open to new opportunities. Let’s be honest, whether you respect the big names or not, there’s always going to be a major part of you that hopes for that amount of success for your own endeavors. At this point though, I’m focusing on educating myself more on the business aspects so that I’m ready if something should appear on the table in the future. I’m a big fan of the saying, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” I often feel so overwhelmed with where I think I should be at this point in my life but then I have to remind myself to take it one step at a time.

H: Without going too in-depth, please walk us through your content planning efforts.

T: Sometimes I feel like I plan content in my sleep haha! I have a special notebook where I write out everything that needs to be covered for the week and so forth. It’s best to write everything out so things don’t get overwhelming, especially when your inbox looks like a scene from Hoarders! As for the pitches I receive, not everyone gets to be featured so I always tell people that the worst I will say to you is, “No, I’m just not feeling it.” I do listen to everything that’s sent my way, though and its all a matter of what perks my ears up, etc.

H: What advice would you offer any young or aspiring writers who may be reading this feature now?

T: First off, you’re in the right place! Keep reading Haulix because this is the place for everything you’re going to need to start your career in the music industry. Second, keep this at the forefront of your mind: There is a future in what you love. As a kid running home from school every day  to catch TRL, I never imagined I’d ever get to do what I am doing. The fact that I managed to do it on my own is even more mind-blowing.

Find a place that allows you the freedom that I found with BUZZNET. Having your work displayed is the best way to hone your craft and step up your game. When the right people take notice, it can lead to incredible things.

Don’t ask for permission to accomplish your dreams. You have everything you need to get started. Contact PR agencies, record labels, or even bands themselves and start making those personal connections. It may be intimidating but remember who you are and what you stand for. Eventually, those people will be seeking you out and asking you to feature some of the best up-and-coming acts out there!

Most of all, don’t do it just to be a part of the scene. Cultivate your own voice and don’t try to mimic what the others are doing. There is a time and a place for everything so keep it classy, always.

Your word is the most important thing you can ever give a client. Be kind, respectful and professional all of the time.

If you’re looking for a place to start your career, The Daily Listening is a safe, friendly community to begin! Check out our site for more info and I’d be more than happy to chat and help out in any way! 🙂

Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the music. Sometimes we get so wrapped up on what we’re going to say about it that we forget to turn off our devices and just listen.

H: Where do you see yourself in a year? How about in 5 years?

T: Ahhh, this question always sends me into a freak out. If you were to tell me a year ago I’d be maintaining my own site, I’d have probably told you that you’re crazy. In a year, I hope to find myself in a place where I don’t have to worry as much. Finding a place where I feel like I belong has been a battle throughout most of my life, so I hope to be in a job that appreciates everything I have to offer. I don’t like the feeling of settling for something because I feel like I have no other prospects. As for 5 years…let’s just say I hope to not be where I am right now haha. I have ideas. It’s just going to take a lot more time, blood, sweat and tears to get there. All in due time. 🙂

H: I think that covers everything. Before I let you go, are there any additional thoughts you would like to share with our audience?

T: Yes! Listen. Love. Share. Repeat. 😉

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.