3 and a Half
Three and a half months of blogging, and what have I learnt? Funny you should ask, this is something I was thinking about yesterday. I’ve gone from nothing to something in quite a short space of time. I started this blog as something to do, particularly whilst FIZIKZ was still down (and it still is) – but as with most new hobbies I pick up, I just went along with the flow and enjoyed the journey it took me on. If you don’t run a blog, there are a few things you should know; bloggers can check detailed stats on who visits them and why, bloggers can see who is linking to their own blog, and bloggers can also register their blog with directories and aggregators to help gain traffic.
When I first started, like I say, it was merely a hobby, and generally somewhere I could share the details of my discoveries with the bigger world. But curiosity and progression are just part of the human condition, so naturally I was eager to see what my stats were doing. At first I was just pleased to see 30 hits a day, but quickly that number grew. To cut a long story short, I saw my stats peak recently during the hype of the new DJ Shadow album, where my review was the number one returned link on Google for the search “DJ Shadow The Outsider Review” – I was getting about 1000 hits a day. However, that did indeed die down… right down. But I was glad to see this peak and crash (for want of a better word), it enabled me to rationalise and remember why I write this blog.
Essentially there are a few things you can do to ensure you have a popular music blog; register with as many directories as possible, swap links with as many other music blogs as possible (preferably very popular ones), check (and register with) aggregators like elbows and Hype Machine to see what people are searching for and what people are talking about. That last point is a particular point I’d like to focus on. If you go to Hype Machine now and check the popular tracks link you will see that Justin Timberlake and The Rapture are popular with the readers, but I use the term ‘readers’ very loosely. Essentially people use Hype Machine to find free mp3s, the chances of anyone actually reading what the blogger writes is probably slim – alas of course I am wondering if anyone is reading this right now?!
To make your music blog popular just regularly post up free mp3s of the latest big thing, or unreleased tracks from an album that isn’t out, but is highly anticipated – this isn’t a free tips column, it’s very much tongue in cheek observations. I’ve seen how the stats react on my own blog when I’ve posted up tracks from The Knife or Outkast – but post up some obscure Eastern European nu-jazz and the stats stay low. There is a simple answer really; people search for popular stuff, if your blog has it, they’ll come and get it. But this goes back to what I was originally saying about rationalising. I’m at the point now where I don’t care about the stats anymore, I just remind myself why I started the blog – it was to share with people the music I like, not to give people the exact stuff they’re looking for. Maybe that sounds selfish, but hey, it’s my blog and if just a few people a day actually read what I write, rather than just steam on in, grab the latest Justin Timberlake mp3 and go, then I’m a happy chap.
I read an article by a music critic/journalist the other day, he was stating that the regular music critic is now a rare breed, what with all the music bloggers etc… He summarised by saying there was still a place in the world for the old skool journos, but where he said that the blogger now has control and can command huge traffic on the net to reach a large readership, I’m not so sure I agree in whole. Essentially these bloggers can harness traffic, which in turn could earn them revenue – so from a marketing perspective it is a very viable situation that could easily prosper, however from a quality stand-point I think it is poor.
We shape our own communities and trends – where all people want is free mp3s and they don’t care what you’re writing, the writers often end up following suit. They chase stats and hits, so why bother typing a bucket load of opinions and info, when all you need to do is post up that Justin Timberlake mp3? No extra effort required. I’m not here for a witch hunt, but one of the Hype Machine’s current most popular tracks (AKA: been commanding lots of traffic) is a JT track that is accompanied on the blog entry by three sentences. Three sentences, an mp3, and a bucket load of traffic. It’s not essentially the bloggers fault per sé, he (or she) probably never promised to be comparable to Dickens, but through posting up something that a lot of people are looking for, they’ve gained hits galore. But essentially nor is it Hype Machine’s fault either, they provide a good service and cant control what people search for – such is life.
This whole conundrum answers itself, people search for popular things (enter vicious circle theory here), so traffic is generated in that manner by the masses. But, I’m not particularly bothered by the stats… remember?! So, in all sincerity, I’m sorry if I sound at all bitter, I genuinely don’t mean to – I’m just explaining and rationalising (mainly to myself) how this ol’ music blogging business works. Anyway, if anything, I should be commanding a nice little niché in the market, seeing as 95% of music blogs are about indie rock and I prefer some hip-hop and electronica! How bout I finish up this ultra-rant with some irony and post a track from an artist a lot of people will be searching for?!
Radiohead – Creep (Acapella)
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