My name is Nada and I run a music blog called Friends With Both Arms. I started the blog in the summer of 2009 when there were really just a handful of us doing it. It was my way of sharing musical discoveries with friends and it grew to become a big part of my life in some ways. I’ve been running the blog for the better part of the last 5 years and it has afforded me a ton of opportunities and allowed me connect with likeminded bloggers and even some of my musical heroes. Since 2009, music blogs have sort of exploded (as has music and basically every other creative endeavor thanks to the internet) so I feel like my voice in the music world is less relevant and as I get older I find I have less time to commit to it. But that should not deter you! My daily blog roll is a giant collection of my friends’ music blogs - it’s such an important filter and part of my musical existence. Now, more than ever - music fans can personalize and curate their own listening experiences with streaming platforms and unlimited access to music - it can feel a bit like musical paralysis. So if you’re passionate about emerging bands, or very specific genres, or long-lost eras, there is an audience out there that needs you. Start writing about what you love to listen to and you will absolutely find people who share your taste and appreciate you for introducing them to new tunes.
What are the steps someone needs to take to become a music blogger?
In order to become a music blogger you need very little besides an unrelenting appetite for finding new music, understanding some basic online tools, and a passion for sharing music with strangers with almost no payoff besides the joy of sharing something cool! Sound like you? Okay cool. You’re going to want to use a blogging platform like Wordpress or Tumblr or Squarespace - somewhere to host all of your stuff. Think of a name for your blog (and don’t riff off a Beatles song, c’monnnn!) and purchase the domain. Consider the main theme or 'mission statement' of your blog - what’s your focus? What do you want to cover? Why should people care about your blog? Then, start a blog roll of your favorite music blogs, scour Spotify, Hypem, Rdio, Soundcloud and Bandcamp for bands and start posting. Eventually you might want to start to do regular columns such as weekly mixtapes, band interviews, live reviews, and lists. After a few months of posting content you can start hitting up publicists to get into shows FOR FREE. This will likely be your only perk.
When you start, dont "launch" it until you have a healthy number of posts queued up so that your web page appears full. Start social channels and tell all of your friends to follow it. If you’re really serious about this, host a mini launch party, try getting some exclusive videos and interviews. Set yourself apart. Oh, and sign up for Google Analytics so you can start tracking your traffic. Expect very little at first, and wait it out. Apply to be apart of Hypem.com after 3 months. If you don’t get in right away, don’t fret - just keep doing what you’re doing and try again in a little while. Pay close attention to what your blogger peers are doing. Follow trends, get plugged in. Add more like-minded people to Twitter. Consider different methods of advertising, there are plenty of them, pick the one that’s right for you. Fill up your sidebar with relevant links, recent posts, a blurb about yourself and some contact information.
What are startup costs?
Startup costs are relatively low because all you need is a website to get it going. You can do that for free by using platforms like Tumblr or you can pay to host a site and buy a domain name. Other than that, there are virtually no startup costs to be a music blogger.
What is the pay like?
Unless you are the next incarnation of Pitchfork, expect never to get paid for this. You might get to a point where you can run some ads and break even on your hosting costs but that’s about it. The best payoff about being a music blogger is that if you do it well and often, people will take notice and you will get the opportunity to connect with industry folks. This could help you get a job in music if you’re kind, curious and business-minded. Your job is to create content, promote bands and introduce your readers to music that you love - if you focus on that, good things will happen.
What are the best parts of being a Music Blogger?
Getting into shows for free is a huge perk, getting the chance to interview your favorite bands and get free vinyl is also pretty pretty sweet. The best part for me was getting to put on shows and showcases at music festivals, I really felt like I was apart of a community by doing that. Also it feels good to support independent musicians in any small way that you can - if you believe in what they are doing and write about them, they will appreciate and respect what you do for them. Also if you truly love music, it’s a great excuse to always be plugged in to what’s new and connect with likeminded folks - I’ve met some of my best friends through this.
What are the biggest challenges in being a Music Blogger ?
Not getting paid, feeling like you’re in an echo chamber of bloggers saying the same things about the same bands, feeling redundant, wondering if anyone is even out there, finding out your favorite band are total dicks in person! I’ve often felt like, what’s the point - but then I hear a song that changes my entire day and I feel compelled to tell everyone about it and that’s what makes it worth it.
Any helpful resources or links on this topic?
Here are a few of the music blogs I follow to help you get started:
- I Guess I’m Floating
- Yours Truly
- Aquarium Drunkard
- Gorilla Vs. Bear
- The Wild Honey Pie
- The Fader
photo credit: Victoria White