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 other bloggers out there, who put their hearts and passions into their spaces.
There really is no better place in the underground for discovering new music than blogs. As an annual “thank you” we open our pages to poll those bloggers about who they believe are the finest music blogs around and with that poll closing last week, we now have the results.
Only our poll actually asks other music bloggers to vote for their favourites in one giant back-slapping exercise. It’s now in it’s third year (see the previous polls and their results here and here). As with the previous years, this strictly peers-only voted poll gives music bloggers a chance to define the leading sites inside our busy sphere. We list all the results below, but suffice to say, it’s been emotional. (MB)
SPECIAL MENTIONS -
ABEANO (5 Votes)
LOST LOST LOST (5 Votes)
CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND (5 Votes)
DRUNKEN WEREWOLF (5 Votes)
OVER MUZIEK (5 Votes)
THE MUSIC NINJA (5 Votes)
TURNTABLE KITCHEN (5 Votes)
HYPETRAK (6 Votes)
AQUARIUM DRUNKARD (6 Votes)
NO FEAR OF POP (7 Votes)
GORILLA VS BEAR (7 Votes)
GOLD FLAKE PAINT (7 Votes)
WE LISTEN FOR YOU (7 Votes)
CRACK IN THE ROAD (8 Votes)
MOSTLY JUNKFOOD (8 Votes)
THE NEEDLE DROP (12 Votes)
INDIE SHUFFLE (21 Votes)
PIGEONS & PLANES (25 Votes)
DISCO NAIVETE (30 Votes)
OUR CONCLUSIONS: Commiserations must go to the Pigeons & Planes blog, who have come second for the third year in a row. If ever there was a ‘blogging bridesmaid’, it is them. More votes were cast this year than ever before, but with less variety among the nominations, suggesting a consolidation of opinions and that the better blogs are securing their fan-base. Twitter went particularly crazy as talk of the poll spread, and the total amount of people coming to The Recommender for this poll saw this blog earn it’s peak visitor numbers for 2012. Looking at the results, similar names appeared on the final top places, but the order shifted around, with last year’s winner actually coming joint 7th, which just shows how trends can change amongst taste-makers as much as they can in the music they all cover. European blogs also faired better, competing more in line with their US counterparts, with the top position being taken by a blog based in Belgium, proving that the Internet burns down borders.
Once again this annual poll has come up with a worthy winner. Disco Naivete is a self-declared buzz blog. There is a fair bit of negative press towards buzz blogs – a style of blog ‘churnalism’, that rattles through a number of updates each day, often racing to be first to the news and chasing hits, with little or no editorial opinions – so the question is, why does Disco Naivete rise above the challenging moniker? Well, we believe it’s because they do it better than anyone else on the planet. Having met them in person, we can confirm that they’re both humble and unassuming, but make no mistake this blog is consistently on top of the latest breaking act or release. They tip genuinely awesome bands and never miss a thing. Their finger isn’t just on the pulse of emerging music, it so often is the pulse. Their reputation is respected, with the music industry well aware of their coverage, as much as it’s daily public, which always comes away having discovered something new at every visit to their online pages. This entertaining and cutting edge blog is a blog that very much puts the Disco into discovery.
We hooked up with the founder and editor, Jarri, to get his response on winning this accolade…
THE RECOMMENDER: What is your reaction to winning the peers-voted Best Music Blog 2012 award?
DISCO NAIVETE: I am pleasantly surprised – I would have never thought Disco Naïveté would even have a shot at winning a poll like this. I’m truly flattered by winning this. Thank you. Really: thank you!
TR: When did you start your blog?
DN: I started with the blog in October 2009. It’s been slightly over 3 years running for now and basically grew out to proportions I never thought it would take (but am very appreciative of). Even though the concept still stays the same, I’m just doing things on a somewhat bigger scale right now.
TR: Where is your blog ‘from’?
DN: The blog is from Belgium – won’t get into details exactly whereabouts, as I live in about three places right now. Besides, I doubt anyone will be familiar with Belgium’s geography anyway.
TR: What is the music scene like where you are? How does it compare to other countries?
DN: I have to admit I rarely listen to Belgian music – Belgium isn’t really a musical country (like the UK or Sweden for example) and most music coming from these grounds doesn’t really try to push boundaries. That’s something I look for in music: something unique, something that gets me on the edge of my seat. I’m sure there are gems to be found in the Belgian musical landscape though – I guess I just have to dig a little bit deeper. Recently I saw Imaginary Family perform live; as a folkstress she doesn’t really do something new nor unique but I do love her EP and style very much. Trixie Whitley is another singer-songwriter to keep an eye on, although she basically lives in the States half of the time now so I’m not sure if she still counts as a win towards the Belgian scene.
TR: Who is the founder/editor and can you please name any/all of your contributors?
DN: Disco Naïveté is a one-man project run by me, Jarri Van der Haegen. It’s been like this since the very beginning and will always stay this way. I thought about getting some more writers on board some time ago but consider DN as my “virtual baby” and don’t really want to share my kid with anyone. I’ve seen it grow since its birth and recently celebrated its third birthday: this has given me the opportunity to shape it to what it is now, something I am very proud of and happy with.
TR: Can you please explain the idea behind the name and the purpose of your blog?
DN: Over 4 years ago I was searching the web in my hunger for new music, an adventure during which I stumbled upon DINOSAURUXIA’s Myspace page. They had a little sentence on it which attracted me: “gooey sentiment and unsophisticated disco science naïveté.” I wrote it down and when I was thinking of a name for the blog, I thought of that little piece of paper. The words “disco” and “naïveté” attracted me and I thought it would be a good name for a blog – after all, I’m just a guy that has no musical background and am thus “naïveté” in a way. It has a bit of a playful, almost childish vibe to it – in the end, the blog is a hobby, thus something we try to get some fun out.
TR: Which genres of music do you cover most?
DN: I don’t really narrow the stuff I cover down to one or several specific genres: I try to think wide and cover as many genres as possible. There’s pop filed right next to indie rock, dream pop, rap, electronic music, r&b, and so on, plus all the music coming out nowadays that’s practically impossible to capture with just one or two words. I do think most of the things being covered on DN has a bit of a poppy side to it though, although I greatly appreciate a more directly emotional song very much as well.
TR: How often do you update your blog?
DN: This depends on a lot of things: do I have time, do I feel like listening to new music and/or blogging, and so on. Some weeks there’s only like five new posts on the blog, others about 3 per day. Less stuff during the weekend, but then there’s often ‘Introducing’ posts showcasing brand new artists because there’s less industry-pushed news coming through during the weekends. I’m constantly sharing new music via Twitter and Facebook though, so there’s at least one new musical find or share every day of the week.
TR: How do you source music, where do you discover new artists?
DN: I guess this is the one question that every blogger gets asked in every interview he or she does. I think the key here is to keep your ears and eyes open – there’s so much great music to be found (on the Internet). I look for it on other blogs, get tips via email and often spend some time just scouring Bandcamp or Soundcloud. It’s something you learn to do by simply doing it and I’ve grown accustomed to it I guess.
TR: Name three artists that you would like to tip for 2013?
DN: I am currently writing my own post on my tips for 2013 and currently have over 20 names in our “Sound of 2013” list. If I’d have to pick three acts right now, I’d go for Haim, Money and Rhye. Pretty sure I’ll give you three other names tomorrow and the day after though – it’s so hard to predict the future and there are so many new acts I have got high hopes and big expectations for.
TR: Do you have a day job too? Is it connected to the music industry in any way?
DN: I’m a student, graduating from law school in June. No actual job yet, but one day a week I intern at Unday Records, a Belgian label. I also curate pop for 22tracks Brussels and write a bi-monthly feature for The Word Magazine. Busy enough with all of these already!
TR: Is your site a ‘buzz blog’ and how do you manage to overcome and in fact transcend the negative connotations of this?
DN: These last few months “buzz blog” has become a bit of a dirty word, hasn’t it? I think I was one of the first people to use (and I don’t mean that in a “credit me”-way) the word “buzz blog” to describe DN, which was originally more of a joke than an actual term to describe a blog.
I think what most people refer to nowadays when they use the word “buzz blog” are blogs that just post any music which is getting majorly hyped at that exact moment, without any input themselves and thus (almost) purely doing it for the hits (and often revenue through ads).
Disco Naivete is different in the way that I don’t care about how many visitors it gets – the more the merrier of course, because more people would listen to the music I recommend. If I’d be writing for 10 or 10,000 people, it would be just the same though. There are no ads on DN so I don’t need people to visit the blog to be able to pay any writers (cause I don’t have anyone writing for DN but myself) [I do respect blogs and websites that have ads, don’t get me wrong - ad revenue is often being used to pay writers and do other things with/for the website, which I fully support.] I also often introduce new acts on DN before any buzz has been created elsewhere, another thing that differs DN from the other category of buzz blogs. Yes, new things are often very early on the blog, but that’s merely to inform our readers instead of trying to gather a lot of hits because I was first on posting something. People that often visit and read DN will know I blog for the sake of good music and have absolutely no other goals with it.
TR: What’s the best thing about being a music blogger?
DN: It’s a combination of things. Most importantly: the music. As a blogger you hear a lot of music, a lot more than most other people do, often some time in advance as well. You have the privilege of having a certain amount of people that rely on you for new musical treats – I sometimes feel a certain responsibility towards readers of DN for keeping them informed and up to date (one I happily carry, though). Besides that, you get the chance of meeting a group of people that also love music, some of which write for other websites or blogs and some that actually work in the music industry. And they’re all amazing, lovely people.
TR: Why do you think your peers voted for Disco Naivete as their winner?
DN: I honestly haven’t got a clue. I didn’t even realise this many bloggers follow DN this closely and think it’s one of the best blogs out there. I hope they consider DN as a good place to discover new music, which they can tip to their readers on their turn. I’m also pretty fast with things – whenever there’s like a new song or a new video, you’ll often find it on DN within the next few minutes or hours.
TR: What is next for Disco Naivete and where do you see it going in years to come?
DN: Tote bags. I’m having some printed as we speak, so that’s coming soon – I can’t wait to see people walk around with them apart from myself and my friends. Plus they are really, really pretty. I’m also organising a little something in March in Belgium but can’t really tell you what that is yet, it’s a bit of a secret. You’ll hear about it soon though, it should be great fun. In June I will graduate and eventually start working as well: I do hope that I still find the time and passion to run DN. My passion for music will never fade away, but I might get too busy with other things that I don’t find the time for DN anymore to do it the way I want to do it.
TR: What do you think of the global music blogging scene in 2012? Is it healthy? Is is growing? Is it changing?
DN: I think smaller blogs are slowly but definitely being put into the spotlight they deserve. A lot of great (smaller) blogs quit in 2012 though, including some I loved myself – it’s always sad to see a blog you love(d) go.
TR: Do you have any useful blogging tips?
DN: Blog for yourself, not for anyone else. It’s your blog, write about what you want and what you think you should write about it. Don’t write about a singer or band because everyone else thinks they are amazing while you’re not too sure of that: focus on the things you really like instead of trying to gather a crowd of readers by recommending things you don’t really like yourself, be truly honest with yourself. Communicate with your readers (this is something I do as much as possible with DN) and try to build a bit of a “community” around your blog. Don’t underestimate a devoted readership: I’d rather have a small group of people that truly trust on DN than a bunch of people that visit the blog every now and then to grab a free song or something.
TR: Is there anything you would like to say to the peers that voted for you in our poll?
DN: Thank you very, very much. And I’d also like to thank everyone else that didn’t vote for DN – I discovered some great blogs I hadn’t heard of thanks to this poll. It’s okay if you don’t think DN is the best blog out there, I don’t need you to – we can be friends anyhow.