As editor for The Recommender blog, I find our network of music bloggers one of the most rewarding aspects of our online world. This new Paper Crane Collective is the perfect forum in which to create something new out of the combined skills and passions of music bloggers.
When I was asked to provide a regular feature it seemed fitting to create a post that focuses on the inner workings of music blogging itself. We fired off a Q&A to a multitude of world class bloggers, of all sizes, from all corners of the globe and received a batch of interesting responses. With our regular posts we plan to pass you one Q&A result at a time, focusing on the music blogger in hand, but over the whole series we hope you too will be just as surprised as we were to find out the many differences and similarities between music bloggers.
This week we delivered our questions to Jacob from the fantastic Pigeons & Planes blog. It’s a site that we’ve followed for years and we feel he represents some key things regarding music blogging: His is a site with a real voice and an opinion, it has regular updates, is very social and interactive in the blogging community, is well respected, well informed and importantly has great taste in music. We will let him tell the rest of the story…
PAPER CRANE COLLECTIVE: When did you first become aware of the existence of music blogs?
PIGEONS & PLANES: I don’t know. 4 or 5 years ago I’d heard the word but I had no idea what it really meant. I used it jokingly, referring to anything I did on the computer as blogging. I had no idea, at that point, that blogging would actually become a big part of my life.
PCC: When did you start your own music blog?
P&P: At the end of 2008.
PCC What were your initial aims as a music blogger? What do you think makes for an excellent music blog?
P&P: My initial aim was just to share and write about the music that I liked. I had no master plan or goals. I had no idea that anyone would ever read Pigeons and Planes. I didn’t even tell anyone, other than my then girlfriend, that I had started it. I just did it, as it was an outlet. As stressful as it can get, I always enjoy it as an outlet. When I get too stressed I’ll sit down and just write a post about something completely random and have fun with it.
A blog can be excellent for plenty of reasons. I guess the most important thing is to be unique in some way. Whether that’s through content, through the voice, through the look. Something needs to be unique, or it gets lost in the overflowing ocean of blogs.
PCC Describe your music blog in three words?
P&P: Passionate. Pigeons. Planes.
PCC Geographically, where is your blog based?
P&P: NY, IL, LA, UK. We’ve got people all over now.
PCC Which genre(s) does your music blog focus on?
P&P: We don’t limit ourselves based on genre, but we tend to be heavy on hip-hop and indie rock. Hip-hop just comes out the most frequently. Remixes, freestyles, mixtapes and all that. It’s not that I prefer hip-hop over anything else (maybe I do, I don’t know), it’s just that most rock, pop, electronic acts don’t grind like rappers do.
PCC 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?
P&P: I’ve got contributors. I’m in the process of solidifying a team now. Frank Ramz has been with me since the early days, so shoutout to Ramz. More recently I’ve added Midas, Verbatum Jones, Green, and Constant Gardner. Shoutout to all of them. They are from all over the place. I still haven’t mastered a way of getting people on board. I’ll just mention on the blog, Twitter, or Facebook that I’m looking for contributors and then filter through the responses.
PCC Approximately, how many visitors does your blog get each month?
P&P: I don’t want to put this out there like that. I don’t know why, I just think it’s a weird thing to talk about, like talking about how much money you make or something.
PCC What perks have you experienced since becoming a music blogger?
P&P: Lots of free music. It’s awesome.
PCC Are you employed? (If so, where and what is your job title?)
P&P: I’m currently finishing up grad school.
PCC 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?
P&P: Forums? Do Twitter and Facebook count? I do those. I love Twitter. I don’t get why so many people hate it. I think it’s awesome – I get all my news there. I don’t even have to read or watch TV anymore. The second anything in the world happens, Twitter is blabbing about it. @PigsAndPlans. Hit me up!
PCC Who are your favourite three music blogs?
PCC What is more important to you, quality or quantity?
P&P: Quality. Not that quantity is unimportant.
PCC What was your most popular post in terms of visitors?
P&P: I don’t know. I don’t really track stuff like that. Probably some random one that got linked to by a big site. MTV linked to P&P for “Green and Yellow” right before the Superbowl. That got a lot of visits.
PCC What do you think is the most effective way to earn comments on your blog?
P&P: Say stuff like, “You guys never fucking comment on anything. Probably because you’re so dumb.” This will get your readers associating comments with being smart, and most people want to be smart. It’s tricky really, but I’ve always found that to be the most effective way. Ask them questions like “What do you think?” and they will straight up ignore you.
PCC How often do you read music blogs?
P&P: Pretty much all the time, except for when I’m blogging.
PCC How do you think music blogs from the UK differ from those in the US?
P&P: I don’t know, I never know what blogs are located where. I tend to miss things like that. From what I’ve noticed, you UK bloggers are horrible spellers – “colour“, “realised“, “favourite” and all that. That’s the only way I can pick them out.
PCC Which aspect do you care for most in a music blog, a good design, or well-crafted content?
PCC Approximately, how many emails do you get in your inbox each day?
P&P: I have no idea since I’m constantly checking and deleting, but it’s ridiculous. I’ve always tried to make myself accessible, so I give my address to anyone and tell them to email me about anything. I would guess it’s around 200 a day. I just checked on my phone and in the time it’s taken me to get this far along I’ve received 8 emails.
PCC What advice can you give any aspiring bands, record labels, PR, agents, or managers, to help their emails get noticed?
P&P: Use the person’s name/site name that you are addressing in the subject of the email. Or do something weird.
PCC How do you prefer to listen to music online, (ie Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Myspace, iTunes, Spotify, Hype Machine, or any others)?
PCC 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)?
P&P: Probably through other blogs/people. I love discovering things for the first time myself, but it’s more common to see a post or a Tweet and check out something that’s recommended by someone you trust.
PCC What does the future hold for music blogging? Do you see their importance growing or shrinking in years to come?
P&P: It seems that there have been a lot more robotic kind of site/blog hybrids that offer some new function or feature. I think there will be a lot of that in the future, and eventually someone will do something that changes the whole game, kind of like Hype Machine. I hope blogs like Pigeons and Planes can survive on the basis of our passion and personal touch, otherwise I’m going to need a tech guy to come help.
I think their importance will grow in the years to come, but I think there are way too many blogs right now and more and more people keep trying to get in the game. With all the competition, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few big blogs come out on top and everyone else will be left fighting for scraps. It would be sad, because the cool thing about blogs is all the voices and all the options. It’s so different from radio or TV, where your choices are so limited.
PCC Can you name a band you expect to break through in 2011?
P&P: Theophilus London is not a band, but I think he’ll do well this year. He’s already got the major label support, but so far he’s been building things himself.
PCC Please let us know any useful links to find you elsewhere online (ie, Twitter, Hype Machine, Facebook etc)?