The Recommender prides itself on being well-networked. We put a lot of effort into sharing, chatting, tweeting and generally being an all-round friendly blog, especially to other music bloggers. We understand the time and effort that goes into making a successful music blog and so we sympathise with the many thousands of the others out there, who put their hearts and their passions into their spaces.
It seemed a fair and logical thing to ask those very bloggers who they would consider are the best blogs out there and they duly responded in their hundreds to put forth their three selections. It should go without saying that when this worldwide collection of bloggers casts a vote, then the results should be worth investigating. We didn’t dictate what ‘Best’ means, or specify any criteria, other than asking for three different blog titles and for them to follow our basic rules.
Over the last 6 weeks, nearly 200 different music bloggers took part in this peers-only vote and, as was perhaps expected, they nominated a wide variety of sites. 261 different music blogs got a mention to be precise, so you can all pat yourselves on the back if you were included, especially those that voted for themselves (ahem). Perhaps even more cool were the 22 bloggers that earned 5 or more votes, which is a strong tally.
Just edged out of the final places were the excellent blogs: Consequence Of Sound, Illegal Tender, Pretty Much Amazing, Stereogum and We All Want Someone To Shout For, so they are well worth a special shout.
We are pleased to announce the top 5 winners of that poll below. As part of this global piece of blog back-scratching we wanted this to hopefully put a little bit of focus and attention on those blogs that are loved by the rest. We’ve had a chance to Q&A the editor from the overall winning blog, so that you could learn a little more about them and so we could record their reaction.
NIALLER 9 (11 VOTES)
ONE THIRTY BPM (14 VOTES)
PIGEONS AND PLANES (15 VOTES)
SUNSET IN THE REARVIEW (17 VOTES)
Q&A w/ LYDIA SIMMONS (editor)
1. When did you start your blog? I started Sunset in the Rearview in December of 2008.
2. Where is your blog ‘from’, or which city/place is it affiliated to? I run the blog out of Durham, North Carolina.
3. Who is the editor and can you please name any/all of your contributors? I, Lydia Simmons, am the founder and editor. For a long time, I was a one-person team, but as the site started to grow a bit, I brought on a few other writers. The first person I brought on, Falade Oluwafunlola, is in charge of writing the Friday at Five posts. I am currently involved in a challenge with Jessica from New Music Collaborative whereby we are trying to attend, photograph, and review 100 live shows in 365 days. We have a few guidelines: festivals don’t count, no repeats, and brutal honesty required. So Jessica is a part-time writer as well. Most recently, I brought on Nick McCarthy, better known on the site as “D Prep,” to help with full-time writing and promotions.
4. What is the story behind the name of your blog? I’ve always loved sunsets. Something about the natural beauty and the colors have always struck me as a natural and universal beauty. Sunset in the Rearview…that’s about the fleeting moment and to always tread on in life. When you’re in your car and you see the most beautiful scene behind you, but you continue to drive away from it, that’s sort of a metaphor for not clinging to the past, but rather embracing it and moving forward. That’s been a theme throughout my life. How it relates to music? I guess I see music as a treasure – sometimes a great one, sometimes not so great. But when you find that song that blows you away, there can seem to be nothing as beautiful as that. Just like when you see that sunset in your rearview.
5. In a nutshell what is the purpose of your blog? The purpose of my blog is multifold, because it caters toward two types of people. First, it caters to the readers – I wanted to create a site where people who are bored of their iTunes library or who are artistically curious could find and read about new artists and their music. Second, it caters to the artists – everyday I try to help shine a light on artists who are making great music. And, of course, my blog also serves as a resource for me to voice my thoughts, improve my writing, and create a community where people can talk about my favourite thing the world: music. But so that we don’t get too serious, because that’s not always the nature of my blog, I also like to have fun with it. Bend creative boundaries, make some jokes, etc. It’s really an enjoyable hobby.
6. Which genres of music do you cover most? I tend to focus on indie-rock, hip hop, and folk the most.
7. How often do you update your blog? I update the blog every day, multiple times a day. It’s hard for some people to keep up, but that’s what’s good about RSS and the email subscription. I’m also redeveloping the blog right now and it will become a much more streamlined site, which will make it easier for people to keep up if they want to.
8. Do you have a day job too? Is it connected to the music industry in any way? I work in advertising doing graphic design. Not related to the music industry, though I could definitely see myself working in the music industry in the future!
9. What are the most popular features on your blog? Most popular features seem to be ‘Mashup Monday‘, ‘On The iPod‘, the biweekly podcast, and the ‘100 Band Challenge‘. One of my favorites, which is brand new, is ‘Artists on the Dashboard‘, where on the first of every month I introduce the readers to the top 3 rising artists of that month, in my opinion.
10. What is most important to you – quality of post or quantity of posts? I think it’s about finding the perfect balance. Quantity is important to keep readers engaged, but quality is important to keep readers interested. I am constantly trying to achieve both of these.
11. What’s the best thing about being a music blogger? I think it might have to be the people you get to know. Between artists and other successful music bloggers, there is a ton of talent out there. It’s awesome to be a part of that.
12. Has the blog opened up any opportunities for you that perhaps wouldn’t have been there without it? Sure it has – I got to write for ACLFestival.com after being voted a top blog in the Southern Region, which was an incredible experience. It also led to me winning a grant from Million Dollar Road Trip, which was also awesome.
13. Why do you think your peers voted for Sunset In The Rearview? I’m hoping it’s because they recognize the hard work I put into the site each and every day. I try to always make it fun to read, too. I think that’s a definite hook that brings people back. I have to credit Pigeons & Planes for teaching me that – that’s why I go back to Confusion’s site every day, so I figured I should probably be trying to do something similar.
14. What is next for SITR and where do you see it going in 2 years time? There’s a lot coming up in its future! As I said, I’m redeveloping the site right now, which is really exciting. The unveiling will come in the new year, and it should be a big step for the site. It will be really fun to use. Also in the future we will have more live shows, collaborations with artists, and hopefully working with other blogs too. In two years time, I would hope that the audience is even bigger, and that artists I have worked with are signed by major labels!
15. Do you have any useful blog tips for other budding music bloggers that are out there? Yes, I do. First, try your best not to see other blogs as competition. Build relationships with other bloggers, and good things will come your way. They should be your friends, not your foes. You can learn from them! Most are willing to offer their advice. I always am! Another thing – express your true self in your posts. People cling to personality, so give that to them. That’s what’s coming to me right now, but if anybody ever has questions, please feel free to email me!
16. Is there anything you would like to say to those who voted for you in our poll? Absolutely. I cannot thank you all enough. Thank you for recognizing me and my blog. I can sit here and say how many hours I’ve put into the blog every single day of the past two years, but that would be silly, because I’m pretty sure that almost everybody who voted does the same. If we could all win this, we should, because as far as I know, we’re all working our tails off, and it’s all voluntary. Thank you for helping me pursue my passion, and for cheering me on along the way! I’d like to give a particular shout out to a couple blogging friends and mentors who deserve recognition as well: Confusion, from Pigeons and Planes. A blogging mentor and friend, one of the best guys out there. My BFF for life. The Music Ninja himself. Will from We All Want Someone To Shout For. All great bloggers running incredible sites. There are so many others I want to speak about, but here’s the easy way to do it: check out all of the blogs on my blogroll. Bookmark them all! Thank you all again, and please let me know if there is something you like or dislike about Sunset – I’m always wanting to hear reader feedback!
Lastly, we think it worth asking who you consider was totally missing from the poll? Why did people swing away from some of the biggest blogs in the world? If you want to elaborate on why you selected the blogs you voted for, or if you have any thoughts on why Sunset In The Rearview collected the prize then please do so in the comments. Thanks so much to everyone who took part, as the response was surprisingly large. With it being so successful we hope we can do this again next year, to see if the results shift. No doubt they would, so until next December, we want to wish each and every music blogger a happy Christmas and a happy new year! (MB)