When people start music blogs they do so with humility and usually have absolutely no idea where it can lead. If they do a good job, soon enough the readership expands beyond expectations, a few guest list offerings arrive and the odd free promo album turns up in the post. The 405 is a site that began one month after The Recommender, and since that launch it’s mushroomed beyond most others in the UK. As a leading voice in the online music community we’re more than happy to get them onto this regular series.
We’re sure that some of you will ask, is The 405 a music blog or is it a music website? Indeed putting them on this series allows us to ask an interesting question about what the difference’s are. The same point was made to us when The Line Of Best Fit answered our questions, and it will no doubt repeat should we get Drowned In Sound involved. The title of ‘blog’ should not be sacrosanct and it the title of ‘website’ doesn’t somehow entirely corrupt them, so we’re not particularly sensitive about the differences. But what are the differences? We’re not going to be having NME.com or Rolling Stone.com on here any time soon, so where do you draw the line?
We think The 405 is an example of a music discovery service that successfully straddles that line between blog and website. It’s origins are very blog-like however. Started by one person, who’s humble intention was to deliver new music to anyone that cared to listen, it simply began as an outpouring of passion for music. That’s the sure fire sign of any music blog. Of course it’s success has meant a growth into one of the UK’s most influential music sites, but it feels like a voice, is still laid out like a blog, is part of our online community, it has genuine impact with it’s coverage and most importantly it delivers lots of awesome music each day. We’ll let the founder, Oliver Primus, continue their story…
THE RECOMMENDER: When did you first become aware of the existence of music blogs?
THE 405: I guess I’ve been using music blogs for a while now, maybe since I was 18, so a good 8 or 9 years. Originally it was blogs that posted illegal downloads that got me interested in music blogs. Not that I illegally downloaded a lot of music, but we’ve all been there, right?
TR: When did you start your own music blog?
405: The 405 was started back in April of 2008
TR: What were your initial aims as a music blogger? What do you think makes for an excellent music blog?
405: I had no initial long terms plans really. I wanted to put together something small that looked at music/art/films in equal measures, but it soon turned into a full grown music site. Saying that, our film content is getting much bigger now, and the arrival of games features has put us more in line with my initial ideas. I think passionate writing and interesting content is key. Also frequency. I like the thought of going to a site and knowing that new content will be available.
TR: Describe your music blog in three words?
405: Hardworking, fun, open-minded
TR: Geographically, where is your blog based?
405: London, UK
TR: Which genre(s) does your music blog focus on?
405: Pretty much everything and anything. In 2008 when it was mostly me writing the music content it would have been all Bright Eyes and music along those lines, now with a massive writing team on board, it’s much more diverse. From hip-hop to pop and everything in between.
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?
405: Yeah we have a LOT of writers working at The 405. Every so often we’ll put a mention out on Twitter or Facebook mentioning that we’re looking for new writers and then we sift though the millions of emails that come flooding in! We also get a lot of people that apply separate from those shout-outs. It just sort of evolved over time really.
TR: Approximately, how many visitors does your blog get each month?
TR: What perks have you experienced since becoming a music blogger?
405: I guess having access to people that I respect is a pretty cool perk. I’m a music fan and I get excited waking up each day so that I can to listen to new music, read new things etc so being able to chat (or in most cases read interview transcripts from the writing team) to people I respect is a big thing for me. There’s a big myth out there that people that run music sites/blogs are just in it for the free CD’s and gig tickets, but since I started the site I’ve spent more money on music than I ever did before, despite getting hundreds and hundreds of CD’s each month for free.
TR: Are you employed? (If so, is it inside or outside the music industry and what is your job title?)
405: I work two days a week as a barman (best around yo!) but other than that I work on the site. In fact, I work every day of the week. That’s dedication for you.
TR: An important part of a music blog is the network it has at it’s disposal, so which other sites/forums do you network on mostly?
405: Social networks? Twitter and Facebook and that’s about it really. Twitter is the best thing to happen to the Internet in a very long time. It breaks down boundaries unlike any other social networking tool out there, and I don’t think we could live without it in all honesty.
TR: Who are your favourite three music blogs?
405: Pitchfork (best around – I don’t care what anyone else says), The Quietus (insanely good site) and This Is Fake DIY (those guys are constantly trying out new things, and the site is a joy to look at and use). Honourable mention to One Thirty BPM too as they started around the same time as we did (I think) and they have a pretty similar work ethic to us I believe.
TR: What is more important to you, quality or quantity?
405: Quality. Always quality.
TR: What was your most popular post in terms of visitors?
405: Our end of year content is always pretty popular (albums of the year etc)
TR: What do you think is the most effective way to earn comments on your blog?
405: Ask a question, or write something passionate. People will ether agree with you (and will want to let you know) or they’ll massively disagree (and will also want to let you know). Failing that, write about Justin Bieber, that will most likely get you a birch of spam comments haha
TR: How often do you read music blogs?
405: Every day
TR: How do you think music blogs from the US differ from those in the UK?
405: I don’t think there is a massive difference in all honesty. I think that’s the great thing about the Internet. Most people think we’re based in the US, though that’s probably down to the name.
TR: Which aspect do you care for most in a music blog, a good design, or well-crafted content?
405: ‘Content is King’ as they say, but I do like a good design. We spent a lot of time on our design as we wanted to give our readers something different. Content will always top everything else though.
TR: Approximately, how many emails do you get in your inbox each day?
405: Anything from 200-300 emails generally
TR: What advice can you give any aspiring bands, record labels, PR, agents, or managers, to help their emails get noticed?
405: Make sure your email doesn’t look like a copy and paste job. Everybody knows the deal when it comes to this business. I don’t expect a PR/band/label to tailor each email they send (I’m not a monster) but when it’s one of those faux personal emails, It’ very easy to hit the delete button. Make it simple ad get to the point. Definitely don’t get the person’s name wrong, and don’t attach an mp3!
TR: How do you prefer to listen to music online, (ie Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Myspace, iTunes, Spotify, Hype Machine, or any others)?
405: I use iTunes for my own library, Spotify for putting playlists together (and filling in the gaps) and soundcloud for everything site related. Soundcloud is amazing.
TR: What is the most common way you discover new music (ie through your network, tips from the industry, tips from friends, gigs, other blogs, traditional media/journalism, emails etc)?
405: Probably the writing team If I’m being honest. They’re always sending me tips!
TR: What does the future hold for music blogging? Do you see their importance growing or shrinking in years to come?
405: I hope to see it grow! I’m confident it will. I do like print mags but I’ve also seen some amazing magazines pop up on the ipad, and that excites me!
TR: Can you name an artist that you expect to break through in 2011?
405: I’d like to see Clams Casino do well in the remaining months of 2011. He’s already had a pretty strong year though.
TR: Please let us know any useful links to find you elsewhere online (ie, Twitter, Hype Machine, Facebook etc)?