We’re running a series where we interview these strange midnight creatures called music bloggers so we can find out a little more about them and hopefully uncover some interesting insights.
This week we shine the light on Richard Thane, creator and editor for The Line Of Best Fit. His site is so large it blurs the lines between blog and website, but either way he is a genuinely important voice in our online solar system, so check out what he had to say below…
THE RECOMMENDER: When did you first become aware of the existence of music blogs?
THE LINE OF BEST FIT: Probably about 2004. Before then I found out about new music via message boards.
TR: When did you start your own music blog?
TR: What were your initial aims as a music blogger? What do you think makes for an excellent music blog?
TLOBF: I had none! I just wanted a forum to vent want I was listening to. I was quite aware that no one was listening, but I found it all quite cathartic.
TR: Describe your music blog in three words?
TLOBF: Passionate. Honest. Hardwork.
TR: Geographically, where is your blog based?
TR: Which genre(s) does your music blog focus on?
TLOBF: We’re not genre specific in what I cover, though lately we’ve become more strict in terms of what we cover. Ultimately we champion new music, stuff that your standard uk based magazine wouldn’t necessarily touch or be early adopters of. We like to see ourselves as having a blog ethic for rooting out the new stuff but with a magazine attitude to editorial, if that makes sense?
TR: Do you work alone on the blog, or do you have contributors – if so, who are they and how did you initially get them on board?
TLOBF: I have an editorial team beneath me. Josh Hall – new music editor. Lauren Down – news editor. Caroline Doyle – associate editor. Paul Bridgewater – live editor. Currently there are 65 TLOBF contributors.
TR: Approximately, how many visitors does your blog get each month?
TLOBF: Approx 300k unique visitors per month.
TR: What perks have you experienced since becoming a music blogger?
TLOBF: Well the obvious, but the thing I’ve mostly benefited from, having become a successful site owner, is gaining a career within the industry. Without the site, I’d still be working in desk top publishing and hating every second of it. I also get to meet amazing pop stars and have a tiny little part in helping them along on their path. That’s surely the best perk of all! The free music / gig tickets is just something that comes with it. I don’t see it as a perk at all.
TR: Are you employed elsewhere? (If so, where and what is your job title?)
TLOBF: Yes. I’m the editor of a large ticketing company based in the City of London.
TR: An important part of a music blog is the network it has at it’s disposal, so which other forums do you network on mostly?
TLOBF: Twitter, pretty much 100%. Facebook I use but it drives me insane. No more Myspace. I’ve just purchased a Soundcloud premium account too which I’m enjoying using.
TR: Who are your favourite three music blogs?
TLOBF: Quality 100%. I fucking hate sites that post just for the hits. Find something original. Believe in what you write.
TR: What was your most popular post in terms of visitors?
TLOBF: Jesus. Well this year was the Ones To Watch. I think EVER was perhaps Air France remixing Saint Etienne. Oh, also the Lykke Li Session.
TR: What do you think is the most effective way to earn comments on your blog?
TLOBF: We don’t have comments.
TR: How often do you read music blogs?
TLOBF: To be honest, not as often as I should. I rely on Twitter. I don’t have a lot of time to trawl the blogs so I go on instinct and I have a good memory. I kind of remember every band name I see. if they crop up more than once then I often check them out. I also have a network of people on Twitter that I trust whole-heartedly and tend to check out stuff they’re shouting about.
TR: How do you think music blogs from the UK differ from those in the US?
TLOBF: I think that they’re playing catchup a lot of the time, but that’s more down to the PR and labels pandering to the US. I think it’s changing though. That’s one of my aims, to change the game a bit. The Lykke Li session was a big deal for us, and it just goes to show that you can get a world exclusive session with a huge pop star if you approach things in the right way.
TR: Which aspect do you care for most in a music blog, a good design, or well-crafted content?
TLOBF: Both. without a good design you’re screwed. I’m not 100% happy with TLOBF right now, but in terms of aesthetics, I think it looks quite nice, but good design is paramount, absolutely.
TR: Approximately, how many emails do you get in your inbox each day?
TLOBF: Too many. if I didn’t constantly check / delete / reply – I think in a day I could amass anything from 200-500.
TR: What advice can you give any aspiring bands, record labels, PR, agents, or managers, to help their emails get noticed?
TLOBF: You know what? There’s no great secret. I really can’t say what makes me open one email or delete another, it’s pot luck, haha! I do try though.
TR: How do you prefer to listen to music online, (ie Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Myspace, iTunes, Spotify, Hype Machine, or any others)?
TLOBF: Online? erm, I don’t really like to stream if I’m honest. but if I’m checking new stuff out I tend to go in this order: Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Hype Machine and Myspace. I NEVER use Spotify. but in terms of on the go / at home – I’m iTunes all the way baby.
TR: What is the most common way you discover new music online (ie through your network, tips from the industry, tips from friends, gigs, other blogs, emails etc)?
TLOBF: All of the above. Again, there’s no great secret. It’s about instinct, I truly believe that. You can either sense a good artist or you can’t. I guess overall it’s network (Twitter) and friends. I don’t like being pitched at by PRs. Well, I say that – if I KNOW them and they know my tastes then its fine, but some PRs are so desperate for coverage they’ll fucking scrape the barrel unashamedly. We got offered a session with fucking John Fratelli the other day for example! I mean, do YOU EVEN READ THE SITE? No, thought not.
TR: What does the future hold for music blogging? Do you see their importance growing or shrinking in years to come?
TLOBF: Music bloggers (such as transparent) are the new A&R, without doubt. Bloggers do all the hard work. The labels just reap the benefits.
TR: Can you name a band you expect to break through in 2011?
TLOBF: Niki And The Dove. Though if they sign to a major label over here I’ll be mortified. They need to be nurtured by an indie that will give them full creative control.
TR: Finally, please let us know any useful links to find you elsewhere online (ie, Twitter, Hype Machine, Facebook etc)?