Thursday, 24 January 2013

Inside A Music Bloggers In-Box ( #liveinboxtweet )

This blog post is aimed at those who are interested in how d-i-y music bloggers work when they open their in box, which is one, but not the only way music bloggers find the music they write about. If you just want to hear some new music, skip to the bottom of the post and pretend this waffle didn’t exist. This is essentially a quickly written, shocking amateur, navel-gazing 'look at me poor overloaded blogger' rehash of what we wrote on How To Get Your Music Featured On Blogs, but hey bands steal old ideas all the time and call it influence, so why can’t we? It's just our influence is ourselves. 

If you follow any music bloggers on twitter you’ll probably occasionally see them mentioning / moaning about the dreaded blog in box. It’s the place where hundreds and thousands of videos, albums, songs and news stories drop into their lives every day. And when we say hundreds, we mean hundreds. Yesterday Breaking More Waves had about 120 and this was pretty average. One music blogger told us he currently has 14,000 unopened emails. Ouch. He needs to press delete all and start again.

Most bloggers we’ve talked to have a love / hate relationship with the in box. For every gem they unearth they have to shift through an awful lot of crap. To demonstrate this yesterday for about an hour we methodically opened each email in reverse chronological order. Then we tweeted what we discovered. You can probably find the results for a short while on our twitter feed. We called it #liveinboxtweet

There was a point to this rather annoying exercise though (sorry if you follow us on twitter and we clogged up your stream) and that was to demonstrate how time consuming music blogging is and how much of the stuff we get sent is totally unsuitable for our blog. Hip hop mix tapes ? We seem to get a lot of those and yet have never ever featured one. In just under an hour we opened and attempted to read / listen to 17 emails. Therefore to open and listen to a full day of emails at Breaking More Waves would take 7 hours. As we have to do a real job and have a real life we could only do this if we never slept. Even although we like to think of ourselves as amazing, we’re not that amazing.

Some bloggers are time rich (hi students and the unemployed) and can while away the day opening lots of emails, scouring the likes of Soundcloud and Bandcamp and the like to find that new undiscovered gem. But for the rest of us, it’s a case of finding time when we can. It’s why this week we took a bit of a break – we had a lot going on. But on average we personally probably spend an hour every evening going through the inbox. We also check our Soundcloud and You Tube feeds. But that’s only the start. If we find something we really like we listen and watch a number of times. We sometimes find out a bit more about the artist via our own Google searches as well as contacting the act or their PR company directly if we feel it’s required. Then we think about what we’re going to write. You’ll have probably noticed that whilst some of our posts are straightforward ‘here’s some music, it sounds like this, it’s quite good’, others bring in discussion points or talk randomly at what appears to be bollocks (sometimes it is, sometimes it’s because we’re creating a narrative for a future blog post) and then finally we write. Our writing isn’t literary prose, or journalistic, it’s just how we talk, so we can write quickly, but all of this can still take another half hour to an hour of time, depending on circumstances.

So just to create one blog post you could be talking up to 2 hours. Last year we created 372 posts. The year before that 435. That’s a lot of hours, a lot of work, for which we receive no payment except lots of free music (most of which we won’t listen to). And many of us have full time jobs, social lives, families and even children. Oh yes and we actually like to listen to other music as well – albums we own, go to gigs and suchlike.

Of course every music blogger has their own approach to the in box. We asked some bloggers how long they spent and the norm seemed to be around an hour a day, but most bloggers used some sort of sieving mechanism when scouring their inbox. The emails weren’t opened in order as we did yesterday, where we found a very mixed bag from songs about assholes to a pretty enjoyable new tune from Gabriel Bruce. As Tim from the ever excellent blog The Blue Walrus told us “a lot of the whittling down is done via inbox rules and first-line reading.”

Which brings us (finally) to the point of this article. If you’re thinking of emailing a bunch of music bloggers with some music you might be better spending your time doing your research before you send your email. We’d suggest that the 3 golden rules of sending an email are:

Target the correct blogs

Don’t mass email every blog under the sun. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Find ones that are more likely to feature your music. Here at Breaking More Waves the likes of indie, pop, folk and electronic are all in with a good shout. But hip hop mixtapes and heavy metal are most likely to get a delete without even listening – it’s part of the scouring process.

Title your email appropriately

Make sure your opening title of the email and opening line is the attention grabber. Don’t muck around with the ‘hi we love your blog’ nonsense (you’d be amazed at how many artists supposedly love our blog, especially when they’ve CC’d 800 other blogs in on the same email and not even used BCC). We couldn't give a sh*t about what you think of our blog - just tell us who the music is by and what the music sounds like (genre, similar too etc). You could even do this in the email title and save the blogger some time.

Put the music somewhere where it’s easy to see

Although we prefer concise emails we understand that lots of detail about the artist can be helpful to some blogs and some of those do like to copy and paste. However, the important thing is the music. So make sure the email is set out in a way where it’s really quick and easy for the blogger to find that music and press play in one click. Eg: A working link to Soundcloud / Bandcamp / You Tube

There’s a whole bunch of other strategies that can be used to get your email read – from sending them at the right time and on the right day to having already created a relationship with the blogger (this is where PR company have the upper hand – many bloggers have trusted sources) to phased targeted emailing that slowly builds awareness amongst the blogging community (fact: many bloggers including this one read other blogs). But the three rules above are good places to start. Of the 17 emails we opened and live tweeted yesterday, on a normal day scouring and sieving we’d have only got round to pressing play on 3 or 4 of those.

Here’s the one song that made it through to the blog today. Oh, except we didn't discover it via the in box at all, which goes to show how hard it is out there. Have a listen. We featured some of their demos last year, but now they're sounding bigger. This is K.I.D.S

K.I.D.S - Black Star


Tim said...

Yes I really do need to hit delete all...

I hope people read this!

Andy Von Pip said...

I want two Hi Res photos, sound-cloud/video links a brief bio FB/Website links. I'm quite happy for people to follow up too, because sometimes we all miss things. But when you get four increasingly tetchy follow ups it gets a bit much ! The truth is if i spent all day relying to emails saying sorry, not for us I'd never write another thing.

And yes, I'm suddenly receiving a heck of a lot of RnB and mix tapes. Not really my thing ....I like it when I get an email which says Hey [insert blog owners name here] we really like [insert blog name here]. You just cant beat the personal touch

I have never deleted my emails, all are archived, because I like to torture myself with artists I've missed hehe.