Make it Work
Make It Pay
Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled the name of writer Mark Schoneveld.
To make it as a music blogger, being humble will get you nowhere. “Shameless self-promotion is SO important!!!” says Katrina Nattress (@KattrinaNattress), Los Angeles-based blogger who writes for OC Weekly, Prefix, BestNewBands.com, Newdust, Performer Magazine and The Deli LA.
Philadelphia-based Mark Schoneveld writes for his own blog YVYNYL, which offers a deep dive into new and emerging music. Both agree that using social media and connections is important to finding success, but there are other necessary tools as well.
Multiple inputs of info
Thanks to the Internet, it is easier than ever to discover bands. This is a blessing and a curse. Schoneveld believes in “tilling the soil seasonally,” by searching for diverse feeds and constantly rotating his own content inputs in order to find fresh content. Nattress thinks “to be a successful music blogger, you need to know what is going on in all aspects of the music world and have an encyclopedia of knowledge for both new music and classic.”
Pitch like a pro
To expand to writing about music professionally, pitching to other sites is necessary. “Writing for yourself is the ultimate freedom … [but] writing for other sites can be fun too — to fit a voice into their style, ” Schoneveld said. When pitching a new site, Nattress recommends reaching out to the editor first and include sites you currently write for along with three writing clips in your email. Nattress opts for variety: a CD review, live review, and feature story. “Include your best writing samples, and research the particular site you want to write for so you know which samples are appropriate.”
Be a brand
Creating a blog first will help a any blogger become more established and makeit easier to find work. “You [need to] make a name for yourself, a certain brand, “Schoneveld said. “Pitching an article when you’ve not built your own castle is far less powerful than coming from a place of respect in the space.”
By sustaining her own credibility for over six years, Nattress now has press releases sent to her daily. “You need to show the editor why you are better than the competition,” Nattress said. “With so many bloggers out there, your voice is what will define you.”
Have a space to play in
Schoneveld primarily writes for his own music blog and says he likes having a space where he is the boss. “I don’t have to answer to anyone. I post stuff all the time that I know won’t get clicks or page views, simply because I love the artists,” he said. When Nattress writes for other sites, she must fit the format preferred by the editor. “… although all my editors … let me keep my voice in my pieces, it’s refreshing to know there’s somewhere that I can post anything I want on.”
Passion is a must
Overall, becoming a successful music blogger takes time. “I have been blogging for over six years, and I am just starting to receive decent paychecks for what I write (but still not enough to write full time.)” Nattress said. One doesn’t start music blogging for the money, but because of an existing passion. This passion could be the most important tool of all for the blogger. Without authenticity a blogger will have a tough time cultivating a unique voice, which can cost bloggers much-coveted assignments.