This is another question we often get asked, especially by new artists.
Here’s our answer with some wisdom from Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies:
In most instances, the answer to this one is a firm YES. In fact, We struggle to think of an instance in which the online presence of a musician, band or music enterprise would not be enhanced by the addition of a blog.
The most common counter-argument against musicians blogging is the idea of the ‘aloof artist’ – the notion that the mystique of an inaccessible and ineffable artist adds to the value of the work itself. We disagree, though of course, there are exceptions. You pretty much have to go into hiding to make that strategy worthwhile.
But the main reason to blog is not, as you might expect, that it’s a great way to promote your music. It’s more that the blog is now part of the way in which you do what you do.
Let me put it another way. Just as copying simply happens online, so does communication.
Accessibility is the norm online
If I find it difficult to locate you, listen to your music, find out what you’re up to and where you’re at, then it’s far easier for me to find an alternative source for what you do than it is for me to go digging in order to find out what’s going on.
If you’re trying to get work, sell your music, gain clients, gather fans, promote a record or a gig, or connect with the online environment in any way, blogging is the first step towards that. It is, at the very least, evidence that you understand that your online presence should be a conversation and not a brochure.
So what actually is a blog?
Well, actually, allow me to broaden the standard definition a little. Generally speaking, the term comes from an abbreviation of ‘web log’ – a continually updating ‘diary’ of events and occurrences. But it really just needs to be some regular form of communication that can be easily updated by you.
In that respect, I’d put a ‘micro-blogging’ platform like Twitter on the list, and a voice-based message system like Utterz on the pile as well. Mostly though, it’s somewhere you can post the latest news, thoughts, events, and interesting things as they come to mind, so that visitors to your site can see the latest, go back through previous posts – perhaps respond, and spread the word.
And the best reason to blog?
A smart friend of mine once said that the best music in the world is the sound of someone’s insides on the outside (yes, he was an old punk – how did you know?). His point was one about self-expression. That music, at its best, is something we can identify with on a human level. And we tend to like music we can relate to, because it expresses something of ourselves.
And because music is self-expressive, we are more positively inclined towards music by people we know and like – because if we like them, we’re likely to appreciate expressions of their ’self’.
So by logical extension – removing the curtain, engaging with your audience and actually letting them in on your day to day life will allow people to feel that they are getting to know you (in a ‘managed’ way), and will therefore be increasingly inclined to appreciate your music on that basis.
To put it in narrative terms – you become a character they care about. Whether you’re a musician, a label manager, a promoter, a venue owner or a music teacher – starting and (more importantly) maintaining a blog creates a story (remember this idea — we’ll be coming back to it). People love stories — and want to know what happens next — and if it’s a story they like with characters they can identify with, it will start to become meaningful and important to them.
Everybody must blog! Why do you think Twitter is so popular and pretty much any company that matters is on it?
The idea that the world is divided into content creators and consumers is increasingly redundant. What’s important is the quality, frequency and ‘engageability’ of your content – and that’s no longer restricted to your musical output.
The fact that you make music is unremarkable. The quality of your communication — musical content included — is now the measure by which you will be judged. This is not a call to pick over the mundane minutiae of your life. This is a challenge to be interesting.
And really, this is not such a radical or transformative idea. Your music has always been communication. Your music business has always been a communication business. This is about using the online tools to enhance that communication.
Another more technical reason to blog is related to one of the more important but less important ’20 things you must know about music online’ which you should read if you haven’t already and that’s SEO: Search Engine Optimization.
Everything you blog about gets catalogued by the search engines. So that means a lot of ways for people to find you and hear your music. Often things totally unrelated to music which is fine – people love to stumble upon things accidentally and ‘discover’ them for themselves. Some of our artists greatest sources of traffic to their website have been related to playdough, hiking, religious oppression and video games!
So think of blogging as an indirect way for people to find out about your music.
Ok, So what should i write about?
We hear this one a lot from artists, what should I write to my fans and mailing list subscribers?
Well, since it’s essential you send a message out to your list at least once a month (you DO have a mailing list don’t you?) Here are some ideas of what you can write about:
- Details of the creation process of your latest musical works and otherwise
- Upcoming shows
- Recapping recent shows (telling funny stories if there are any)
- New music (either full CD releases or just new songs posted online)
- Info about upcoming releases
- New merchandise
- updates to your website, new blog posts, photos etc.
- great music, books, videos, foods and other things you’ve appreciated lately
- Funny/interesting stories and events that happen during your downtime
- Any other artist news
- Anything really. Fans signed up to YOUR list to hear what YOU want to say!
And you thought you had nothing to say!
It’s important to write something at least once a month, but no more than once a week.
But I really don’t like writing!
Ok, sure there are some of us who will just never get into or want to do this, fine, that doesn’t mean you don’t blog… Here’s a supplementary list for you:
- post photos you’ve taken or that you’ve found that you love [and credit the photographer]
- post your favourite videos you’ve found online
- post videos of your own, embedded from your youtube account [vblog]
- post some artwork you’ve created and mention the inspiration behind it or something
- post your own podcast [let us know if you want help setting one up]
We could go on… there are easy and quick ways to do this now using mobile technology and such, again, let us know if you need help.