Music blogs were once widely considered an integral part of any music promotion effort. Before the age of streaming services, dedicated genre flans turned to blogs for new song premieres, new artists, and tour information.
Opinions have changed in recent years. While some blogs are still considered gatekeepers to specific areas of music, many more have been written off as unnecessary or uninteresting (often both). Those criticisms, along with others, have birthed think-pieces, podcasts, and YouTube videos that question the relevancy of the blog market as a whole.
But such criticisms are short-sighted. Much like cassettes and vinyl before them, blogs may not be as vital as they once were, but that does not mean they are dead and gone. There are countless blogs operating today, with more launching every month. People still dream of becoming music journalists, and some even get paid to write about music regularly.
With that in mind, let’s explore the problems music blogs face today, many of which have only arisen in recent years.
1. Interviews are mostly irrelevant in the social media age. Why read an interview with someone who already shares every detail of their life on multiple social media platforms 24/7? What can blogs deliver that they can’t?
2. There will always be a need for a “water cooler” where the conversation on a band/genre takes place, but now there are more avenues for discourse than ever before. Blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Instagram live, etc.
3. Many sites have thrived by regurgitating press releases as fast as possible, but no one is faster than the artists who have likely scheduled the same announcement across all channels in advance of release.
4. Sameness is a disease that has plagued many sites for years. What does any blog offer that no one else can, and how are blogs utilizing that uniqueness to engage music fans?
5. When everyone can share their opinion all the time, why should anyone listen to a blog? Just because someone writes 1000 words on a new album doesn’t mean their perspective is better than what someone else can fit into a tweet. Creativity always wins.
6. Simply sharing content is not enough to build an audience. Where is a blog’s branding? Where is their investment? How are they making their content their own and not just another use of the same promo image every other site uses for the exact same coverage?
7. Single platform sites are dinosaurs. Does the blog have a podcast? How about a YouTube channel? Are they creating unique content for their Instagram and Twitter, or is everything the same everywhere?
8. Have sites made any effort to promote their content beyond having their contributors share links tagging talent? Artists are more inclined to engage fans than they are to try pleasing a blog that relies on them to bring clicks. Where is the authority?
9. Speaking of original content, does the blog edit their posts? Are they developing a voice? Do they curate image galleries rather than posting 50+ photos from a show they covered in 250 words, most of which can be summarized with “it was cool”?
10. What about your community? Has the site identified the type of person who reads their content? If so, have they asked readers why they choose that publication over the competition? Have they asked their audience who they want to know more about?
11. What is a site’s focus? Everyone listens to a little bit of everything, but no site is proficient or knowledgeable about every genre. Sites hoping to succeed need to identify what coverage performs the best and minimize the rest. Blogs shouldn’t trend hop just because Lil Whatstheirname is suddenly buzz-worthy.
12. Does everyone really need a site of their own, or would they be better suited for partnering with another site to create one powerhouse force? Is it ego or necessity that dictates that decision?
13. As far as advertising and promotion, what is a site’s target market? How did they identify them? What can they offer that group that other sites can’t or won’t?
14. Too many sites lack clear goals. Many are trying to be Rolling Stone, but that is a terrible decision because the business model of Rolling Stone is no longer working for that publication in today’s world. Sites need to set attainable goals and manage their expectations along the way.
15. If they do start a YouTube Channel or podcast, why? How are they working to differentiate that content from what already exists? The more specific sites can be the better. No one needs more “people who like everything talking about everything they like.”
16. Networking matters. What kind of relationships are new sites developing with PR/Labels/Artists? Are they saying yes to everything? If so, stop that. Are they only saying yes if they promise to promote? If so, top that. Are they working together to create the best possible content that can help everyone? If so, do more of that.
17. Too many sites dream big but act small. If blogs try something new, they MUST put their all into it. Why should anyone else give a damn about what a website is doing if the site owners don’t give a damn? Quality breeds community.
18. Blogs need to listen to the music community more. Find a need and fill it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a complete list of tours currently happening in any specific genre? How about a playlist with all the new material from any one genre each week? These ideas and many more are waiting to be utilized.
These problems don’t even begin to address the problem of monetization, or they need to pay contributors, but both these issues can be solved AFTER an audience has been developed.
Blogs will never die, but it’s likely many sites that exist right now won’t be around in five years’ time. If you want to survive then you must adapt. Constant evolution based on analysis of trends and tastes will inevitably give way to longevity. Complacency only leads to death.