Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How To Write A New Music Blog

This year Breaking More Waves has received a number of emails (well 3 at least - but that's still a number. The magic number in fact) from people asking either can they write for us (our answer – no, this is our vision, go and write your own) or can we give them any tips about writing a new music blog (our answer – you’re probably asking the wrong blog). However as we've been going a while now we've probably picked up a few ideas along the way. So we’ve studiously put together (ie: written in about 20 minutes after getting back from a night out) this guide (we won’t call it a comprehensive guide, because it isn’t, it's just some thoughts, spewing out onto the screen like laptop vomit) about how to write a new music blog. It means that now when that ‘tips’ question comes our way we can just link to this post. Simple.

This isn’t intended as a technical guide to setting up a music blog or how to ensure search engine maximisation (again we’re the wrong blog to ask) or a style guide of how to write, but more a philosophy of things to think about when starting up. So without further ado here’s our short list of new music blog do’s and don’ts.

1. The Rules

There are no rules. It’s your blog, not someone else’s. Write how you want and feature what you want and not what anyone else is telling you. (Deletes the rest of this list)

2. The Objectives

If you’re still reading, have a think about what you want to achieve from the blog. For example if you want to get into lots of gigs for free on guest / press lists you need to start reviewing plenty of gigs. If you want to be sent lots of new music you need to be writing about new music (kind of obvious really). If you want the blog to be a showcase for your journalistic skills (for possible future employment) then you probably need to write lots of different types of articles (interviews, features, news, reviews) to showcase your skill set. If you want to communicate to the world your excellent taste and convince people that they should listen to it then make sure you show that love, enthusiasm and joy you have for the artist(s) in question in your writing. If you want to have sex with Britney Spears then writing a music blog is probably not going to assist you.

3. Be Yourself

Be yourself when writing. This will engage people much more than trying to pen some sort of false prose. It will give consistency and a return readership. Don’t think you have to be highly literate – the best communicators are often those who use the simplest words the most effectively. (Or that’s what we keep telling our non-flowery language self).

4. Don’t Strive To Be The First To Post The Latest Buzz Band

Don’t even attempt to be the first to post the latest hip thing. No one except a few cooler-than-thou blogger types sat masturbating in their bedrooms over their email in box are bothered or interested about this, but once you’ve been writing a blog for a while it’s easy to get caught up in this mentality. The vast majority of people really don’t care how early you are posting songs. First to post is for losers and a game you’ll ultimately never win. 

5. Do Strive To Be The First To Post

If you’re writing a new music blog, sometimes you need to feature music that virtually nobody has heard before. So seek out those great bands and songs that nobody has written about yet – the artists are likely to be hugely grateful for the exposure and who knows, if you think they’re good, maybe others will as well. This is a very different kettle of fish to (4) above where thirty bloggers all get the same PR company email of the latest hot new band and rush to post it the second they receive it. Seek out the great unknown.

6. Decide If You’re A ‘Fan’ Blog or A ‘Critic’ Blog

Love is blind and sometimes it’s difficult to be objective as a fan. We’d recommend that before you get too involved in writing the blog you decide if you’re writing from this perspective (most of Breaking More Waves is now written in this way – positive, enthusiastic, non-critical and romancing the music) or a more objective critical perspective. It’s hard (although possible) to do both. For example if you’re a fan blog and you don’t like a piece of music you won’t write about it, if you’re a critic you’ll analyse / review it.

7. Don’t Worry About Hits

They’ll come if you give it time, post enough and what you are creating is good. 

8. Do Worry About Hits

If after a year nobody is reading your blog, something is probably wrong and you need to rethink what you're doing. After all (and taking into account the 'think what your objective is' tip) if you're writing and creating content you must be creating it for someone ?

9. Networking

We hate the idea of networking (we prefer the idea of real friendship rather than ‘what can you do for me and what can I do for you') but the reality is that if you want your blog to get a bit of a name for itself (and again that depends on your objective) you’re probably going to have to do a bit of networking, either in the real world or the online one. It’s probably pretty important that you run blog related Twitter and Facebook accounts to maximise your reach. (Yes and we are well aware that Breaking More Waves doesn’t have a Facebook page – we never said we were perfect or even followed our own advice – please refer back to (1) The Rules.)

10. Set Up A Blog Email In Box Separate From Your Personal Email Account

This sounds obvious, but we learnt the hard way. What was our personal email now receives on average 80 emails every day from bands, labels and PR companies. Be prepared for the onslaught.

11. Google Your Proposed Blog Name

Ok, this one is slightly about search engine maximisation. If your blog gets well known people will actually start searching for it on Google. We've also learnt through our blog statistics that people search for "Ellie Goulding At Bestival Breastfeeding" which is a bit odd, but that's another story.So make sure your blog has a unique name which isn't confused with other sites.

12. Blog Aggregators Are Useful (But Not Essential)

One good way of directing some traffic to your blog is to sign up to blog aggregators such as Hype Machine (the daddy of music blog aggregators) Elbo.ws and the like. Before you can get listed by Hype Machine you’ll have to be reasonably established and posting a fair amount of MP3's.  Have a look here at the criteria Hype Machine use for selecting blogs.

13. Pace Yourself

It’s the reason most blogs fail. Having decided what sort of blog you’re going to be and what your objectives are, think realistically about how many times you can post in a week. Breaking More Waves tries to post once a day during weekdays and occasionally at weekends, but we struggle. A full time job, a family and a busy social life mean that often blogs are pre-written in the early hours of the morning (such as this one – the current time is 1.25am and we have to be up at 6.30am for work), or early on a Saturday before most people are awake. But then we’re pretty committed and good at surviving on little sleep. Most people aren’t, so look at how much spare time you have, decide how much you want to spend on the blog and then prepare and write posts accordingly. We’d advise that you start slowly and then build up a head of steam as you go if you find you have capacity. Too many blogs burn out quickly or even in the longer term because of the classic ‘haven’t enough time anymore’ statement.

14. Ignore All Of The Above

Even the bit about Britney Spears. Who knows what may happen – writing this blog has taken us to places we’d never expect to go and we’ve met people we’d never have expected to meet. Anything is possible. Sleepwithmebritney.com is still up for grabs. Any takers?

Britney Spears - Till The World Ends (Video)

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