This is an interview series in preparation for my SXSW Panel: The State of Music Blogs in 2010. I reached out to a number of influencers, musicans, labels, marketers and music fans to get their perspectives on the topic and will be posting these in a series leading up to the conference.
Why do you think music blogs are so popular?
I think music blogs are popular amongst folks who try to stay on the cutting edge of music trends. Bloggers are the music mavens of the world. By and large they like to be the people breaking bands, and their readers like to help in that effort. Bloggers and their readers want to be the guy who said, “I liked them before they were popular.” Rolling Stone, other music magazines, and (god forbid) the newspaper tend to be behind the trends in that they pretty much write about music after it has reached a certain threshold of popularity considered comfortable by the bloggers. Bloggers are willing to stick their necks out a little further and take risks in supporting unknown bands.
How do you think music blogs/aggregators/social networks have impacted the industry?
Music blogs are the 24-hour news network of the music industry. They break news and bands before the big magazines and media outlets do.
How have they changed your music consumption and/or marketing efforts?
Bands feel like they have a shot at getting a write-up in a blog, whereas they feel the chances of Rolling Stone Magazine covering them is 0%. So, in that sense, I suppose bands now feel that it is possible to have a successful marketing campaign. There are measurable results (i.e. getting a write-up in x number of blogs).
On the consumption end of things, I think blogs are more trustworthy than the big magazines and news outlets. I trust bloggers’ opinions more than big media, because I feel like bloggers are more concerned with opinion and less concerned with sales. Most music review blogs never make a dime, so, to me, that lends them more credibility.
What’s the best thing to happen to the music industry in the last year or so?
I think that record labels are beginning to recognize their futility. In the same sense, more and more bands are coming to the same understanding. There is a role for record labels, but it is a much more limited role than it was in the past. They are no longer needed to break bands or to pay for music recording. They largely serve as a booking agent and marketing financier. As far as I am concerned, the lesser the role of record labels, the better.
What’s the worst?
The further criminalization of mp3 sharing. That lady in Minnesota who was ordered to pay a ridiculous amount of money on account of sharing some mp3s on the internet. The old Napster was the best thing that ever happened to music. I mean, us plebians could get ANY music we wanted for free at any time. This was the best distribution channel in the history of the world for 99% of bands. Unfortunately, the less than 1% of bands who were making big money got pissed off. And money talks. Contrary to what Lars Ulrich thinks, I believe the trading of 1s and 0s is completely different than stealing cars.
What is the single biggest strategy/technology/innovation/societal shift you think will impact music in 2010?
Facebook. More and more bands are going to market to their friends on this platform, as they should. Already, there is no better tool for marketing shows than Facebook. There is no better channel to tell your friends about your new CD, sell your t-shirts, etc. as well.
I envision music blogs doing some consolidation in the near future. There is value to having many good writers contribute to a single website as opposed to having the information splattered across the internet in many different places.