Back in 2003 -2004 when I got my start, blogging about music wasn’t a job you could get paid at… it was something you could do for fun and you might have had a handful of readers (mom included). Since then an entire industry of bloggers, journalists, and influencers has developed, and writing about the latest notes being passed out from Music Row is a full-time gig for a lot of people, and certainly not one to stick your nose up at. Today I’d like to debunk a few myths about being a country music blogger and throw a little truthful light on the job.
Myth 1: Country music bloggers are just bored housewives with a hobby.
Truth: While many people get into blogging as a business because of its flexible schedule and financial freedom (when done well), in order to be successful at it, you have to treat it as a full time job.
Building relationships with PR firms, establishing yourself as a voice of importance within the field, soliciting sponsors, building a social media following, and in my case, building, maintaining, and constantly improving on your website… these are all time consuming and skill-honing tasks that require so much more work than just spewing out opinions over your morning coffee or during little Johnny’s nap hour.
Myth 2: You must get to travel to so many cool events!
Truth: Yes and no. Yes, you get invited to great events all the time once your reputation is established, especially when you specialize in live event coverage. No, you don’t really get to go to many of them unless you have some serious financial backing.
The sites I run are independent of any publishing agency or corporate support structure. My live event travel calendar is completely reliant on what kind of sponsorships and on-site advertising I am able to bring in. Time spent on the road can benefit me with some great coverage to monetize, but it often comes at the cost of not having time to solicit additional sponsors to fund the pipeline. There’s a delicate balance between the two.
Myth 3: You only promote the same top 40 artists we hear on the radio.
Truth: If you answer to a corporate overlord or major media outlet, then yes… a lot of your content can be pre-determined by the artists they are financially incentivized to push.
However, since I run my own sites, I can write about whatever and whomever I choose. This includes highlighting otherwise underserved artists outside of the mainstream, giving breaks to up and coming artists that show promise, and having a site-wide policy to never write about the juicy click-bait scandals that put the artists very personal and private life details on display for a few extra ad dollars.
Myth 4: But blogs aren’t important the way “real journalism” is.
Truth: That may have been the case when I first got into this business, but the world has changed. The way artists build up excitement for new releases, tours, and product launches usually begins with groundswell buzz on social media and through independent bloggers like myself.
Unlike the mega-media outlets, blogs and social media represent a level of fan interaction that isn’t as stiff and formal, allowing a very unique level of access to otherwise unreachable stars. Bloggers on the whole are more interactive with music fans, and we facilitate a lot of two-way communication with artists through crowd-sourced interviews, co-hosted discussions, and event contesting that would not otherwise be possible. PR firms tend to use bloggers in the same way venues use event coordinators. They state an artist goal and let us worry about the logistics in many cases.
Myth 5: You must only love country music.
Truth: This couldn’t be further from the truth! While I work in country music, I tend to play more in rock & roll. If I go to a country concert I’m surrounded by peers both on stage and off, and I can’t turn off the working side of my brain. I’m analyzing the stage crew, looking for who designed the lighting, taking stock on what merch inventory is hot, and of course, comparing the performances to see who really has what it takes.
As a major live music fanatic, I occasionally want to go go to a show and JUST ENJOY THE SHOW and for that I tend to go to festivals like Rocklahoma where it’s a multi-day, multi-stage, immersive experience where I can catch a bulk of live bands in a short amount of time and really just enjoy myself for the love of the music without having to take notes and do homework.
Now I know the experiences we each have in this industry are all as unique as the people that have them, but for the most part, this is the most fun and rewarding career path I could imagine being on. I have full creative freedom, the ability to pivot my revenue sources when disaster (ahem, two year long panini anyone? ) strikes, and the ability to balance work and life in a way that doesn’t burn me out. What do YOU want to know about working in the music blogging field that I haven’t already answered here?