As regular readers will know, The Recommender isn’t just an mp3 blog, it’s always tried to be provide a little more commentary and opinion alongside the music. The blogosphere is a saturated marketplace and we find that those sites that we regularly return to tend to be those with a real voice. That voice is found in the editorial.
Today’s Q&A is with Dave Greenwald, the editor for the excellent Californian site, Rawkblog. He’s a perfect example of great editorial and takes as much pride in the words he writes as the music he selects for coverage.
It’s no wonder Dave gets asked to represent music bloggers at public talks, as well as finding his blog gaining column inches in the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine, LA Weekly and New York Magazine. As a professional writer he’s can also be found on the pages of Entertainment Weekly, LA Times and Billboard.
THE RECOMMENDER: When did you first become aware of the existence of music blogs?
RCMMNDR: When did you start your own music blog?
RWKBLG: March 2005.
RCMMNDR: What were your initial aims as a music blogger? What do you think makes for an excellent music blog?
RWKBLG: As a college student at the time, I was looking for an unedited outlet for my music writing, but it transformed into a place to spotlight bands I felt deserved more recognition. My favorite blogs are the ones that really reveal the blogger’s taste and show support for specific artists, instead of just posting whatever comes into an inbox.
RCMMNDR: Describe your music blog in three words?
RWKBLG: Verse, chorus, bridge.
RCMMNDR: Geographically, where is your blog based?
RWKBLG: Los Angeles, California.
RCMMNDR: Which genre(s) does your music blog focus on?
RWKBLG: Modern indie rock, folk and twee, with the occasional look back at ’70s and ’80s classics. I’d write about bossa nova more if it were legal to post the MP3s.
RCMMNDR: 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?
RWKBLG: It’s just me — I like having the site be a reflection of my personal tastes, so readers aren’t surprised from week to week.
RCMMNDR: Approximately, how many visitors does your blog get each month?
RWKBLG: Over 20,000 unique visitors per month. Tell your friends!
RCMMNDR: What perks have you experienced since becoming a music blogger?
RWKBLG: Press passes to concerts and downloads of new albums have been nice, but the best part has been meeting other people (both bloggers and artists) who are passionate about music.
RCMMNDR: Are you employed? (If so, is it inside or outside the music industry and what is your job title?)
RWKBLG: I’m currently a full-time freelance journalist writing for the Los Angeles Times and other publications. Previously, I was blog editor at the L.A. Times’ Brand X, the paper’s alternative weekly.
RCMMNDR: 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?
RWKBLG: Mostly Twitter, but Tumblr and Facebook as well. I’ve sworn off message boards — too much insecurity and bullying.
RCMMNDR: Who are your favourite three music blogs?
RCMMNDR: What is more important to you, quality or quantity?
RWKBLG: Quality. Life’s too short to waste time on anything that’s not amazing.
RCMMNDR: What was your most popular post in terms of visitors?
RWKBLG: A rant about the shutdown of the private BitTorrent site OiNK. It got a month’s traffic in a matter of hours.
RCMMNDR: What do you think is the most effective way to earn comments on your blog?
RWKBLG: Write something negative. People love taking your opinions personally as long as they don’t agree with their own.
RCMMNDR: How often do you read music blogs?
RWKBLG: Every day.
RCMMNDR: How do you think music blogs from the US differ from those in the UK?
RWKBLG: Sloppier grammar and more Pitchfork obsession.
RCMMNDR: Which aspect do you care for most in a music blog, a good design, or well-crafted content?
RWKBLG: I read everything through RSS, so I’m mainly concerned with the content.
RCMMNDR: Approximately, how many emails do you get in your inbox each day?
RWKBLG: Around a hundred. Probably more, but I’m too busy deleting them to count.
RCMMNDR: What advice can you give any aspiring bands, record labels, PR, agents, or managers, to help their emails get noticed?
RWKBLG: Keep it short and sweet. I like to have a download link for the album, a streaming link so I can hear it first and a “recommended if you like” pick or two so I can guess if I’ll be interested at all before I take the time to listen.
RCMMNDR: How do you prefer to listen to music online, (ie Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Myspace, iTunes, Spotify, Hype Machine, or any others)?
RWKBLG: I spend a lot of time using both Bandcamp and Soundcloud to find, hear and share new acts. They definitely make my job easier.
RCMMNDR: 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)?
RWKBLG: The more you listen to, the more bands you have to keep track of – I’m just as excited to hear a band’s fourth album as to find a new act. But as far as discovery, I go by friends’ recommendations and find the occasional gem on blogs, via PR emails and by combing Bandcamp.
RCMMNDR: What does the future hold for music blogging? Do you see their importance growing or shrinking in years to come?
RWKBLG: Blogs felt more influential to me in 2005-2007 or so, when they were getting media attention and helping break bands before the mainstream or even Pitchfork. But I think the further democratization of the Internet music scene via Twitter, Spotify, etc., has made most of us less important – it’ll be interesting to see what happens next, but I don’t think blogs drive the conversation anymore.
RCMMNDR: Can you name an artist that you expect to break through in 2011?
RCMMNDR: Please let us know any useful links to find you elsewhere online (ie, Twitter, Hype Machine, Facebook etc)?