11 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING A MUSIC BLOG
So you want to start a music blog, eh! What a great and noble idea. Brilliant! Sure, you have great taste in music, we have no question about that. Your playlists are full of the latest and greatest music releases, and out of your friends you’re probably the go DJ for quinceaneras, toga parties, and what not. That’s all great and stuff, but before you make the executive decision of quitting your day job and embarking on your lifelong dream where one day you’ll be recognized for having produced a killer blog, we would like to give you some “How To” or “What Not To Do” steps in this case. Grab your pencils, you’ll want to take some notes on this.
1. First. Don’t. I mean really…what year are we in…2005? Today…it’s probably not worth it. Plus, you probably think you have great taste…and you might! But so do 100,000 other people who love Wordpress. Or…really your playlist is probably like sounding like oatmeal or vanilla Cheerios. Wacka Wacka Wacka.
2. Why would you even start a music blog today? It’s all about playlists and the direction WATG is heading in along with editorial (see what’s coming in 2018).
3. You’ll probably never ever ever EVER make any money doing it to cover your costs. That idea of monetizing with Google AdSense? Not gonna happen. But…maybe if you start a label on your blog…that could be another story. (HINT: www.WeAreTheGuard.com/Label)
4. Any site / blog you put up through Wordpress…You’re probably ultimately going to get hacked or have one of your plug ins compromised…in my opinion. Nothing against Wordpress, it’s just at least in my experience what has happened to every Wordpress site I’ve owned. And regardless…you’re going to get hacked or have a DDOS (denial of service) attack in general - so just be aware. Or perhaps that one mean tweet you made about MGMT will crash your server (that actually happened).
5. If you have writers that help you, 65% of them will flake as far as sticking with it and/or delivering on time. Delivering stories on time consistently and writing for a music blog sounds great…but few are consistent. It’s best if you just count on people being flakes and then be surprised at the awesome people who end up doing what they’re supposed to…fortunately I’ve found those people along the way.
6. Prepare for Soundcloud to go bye bye. Personally, I love soundcloud…I spend 2-3 hours a day there as my core music discovery place and also tools for our writers/artists…but the “writing's on the wall”…the company is on life support and just got emergency funding. so if you wanna start another “Hype Machine” Mp3 blog…In south park ski instructor voice “you’re gonna have a bad day.”
7. If you need help with coding and design…you get what you pay for. I thought I was very smart to outsource my first music blog and got coders from overseas to work on the site. It was the difference between paying $10 an hour and $100 an hour for a U.S. based coder. Don’t get me wrong there are absolute “rockstar” coders abroad. Amazing. But ultimately if you use a platform like UpWork.com (virtual hire company)…I’ve found, at the end of the day…it’s cheaper to hire the one person for $100/hour, who’ll get things done right the 1st time, feel invested in the project…rather than having to literally micromanage and redo everything 5x. Virtual coders are great but they don’t care about maximizing your value…they care about maximizing and padding their $9/hourly code rate. Plus getting up at 3am to have conference calls is not fun (that’s the beginning of their day via L.A. time).
Speaking of making websites…I’ve also learned this the hard way. Hire a designer to do the design. A coder to do the coding. A code team isn’t a designer and vice versa. Obvious, I know but I learned the hard way.
8. Be prepared to just drop whatever’s not working for your site. We’ve had all kinds of different weekly posts and columns…you can easily see what’s working in Google Analytics…and if no one is digging a certain type of column or format…don’t be precious about it. If it’s not working / reacting, move on. For instance…we had a “Best Poser” column where we rounded up the weekly biggest hyped PR releases and then highlighted the ones that were just all full of air and tore them up. Turns out people like reading about stuff you love rather than hating.
9. No one … and I mean no one … is going to care in the beginning. Maybe your mom and your cat. But then you’ll get another reader. Then another. Then 2 more. Then 10 more. Then you’ll lose 3 readers and you just have to wash, rinse, repeat. This shit doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the same thing with any artist starting out and releasing new music. You put your best efforts out there and you get like 1 Facebook likes from your roommate in the beginning.
That sounds crappy. But it’s about a build and long end game…because I’ve always believed that a music filter…with 90,000 releases per week (that’s a fact) that come out…there needs to be a central reliable hub.
10. That Publicist / PR feed from the email they scraped from your contact page…those submissions are often just about worthless. Don’t get me wrong…I have close PR connections and love working with most of my key contacts. And there are a few really tasty PR firms and people who I trust….but we recently dug into every submission for a period of 1 month…and only found 2 things worth writing about. Sorry.
11. Bonus piece of advice: Don’t do any spammy stuff or try to game SEO (search engine optimization) to get you in faster search results on Google. There are no shortcuts in your rise to fame no matter if you are a music blogger or a music artist. I found out the hard way and hired a few firms to help increase my rankings as consultants. It worked short term but long term they really “screwed the pooch” and I had to recover from a manual Google penalty. Trust me. Those things are not fun. You don’t want to jeopardize your whole platform for ranking #1 for “2015 Best EDM Songs.”
There you have it guys, that’s all we have to say about the subject. If we haven’t convinced you to do otherwise, then by all means go forth and start your own music blog, don’t take our advice. May the internet’s good force bless you.