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FAQ: Being A Music Blogger

After The Show has been bringing you new music, exclusive interviews and song premieres, and concert reviews for the past 5.5 years!

Over the years, I’ve received tons of questions about what goes into running a music blog. Here are my answers to the 5 most frequently asked questions that I’ve received:

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1. What does running a music blog entail? How much work goes into it and what are your responsibilities?

I have a dedicated After The Show email account that receives hundreds of unsolicited (and solicited) emails every day from artists, music publicists, band managers, and record labels. So managing emails is a big component of running an established music blog. I’ve discovered a lot of great songs just because unsigned bands reached out to me. Other responsibilities include going to concerts and writing reviews, discovering new music to feature on the blog, doing Twitter/YouTube social media promotion, and maintaining a website.

2. I want to start my own music blog. What advice do you have for someone in my shoes?

Make sure that running your own music blog is really something you want to do. It’s a ton of fun, but you have to truly LOVE music to keep a music blog running over the years. When I first started, I got so excited every time I made a new post, and I’d be ecstatic when I posted a new interview. Eventually, you get less excited as the novelty wears off, but something else (ideally your unquenchable thirst to discover and share music) has to drive you.

Be consistently reliable and professional — especially if you’re a new blogger, you’ll need to prove yourself to music publicists, bands, and managers with whom you work. Also, make a wish list of artists and bands you want to interview — it gives you something to strive for.

Finally, getting nervous before interviewing one of your favorite artists is definitely normal, but you have to learn to control your nerves. A deep curiosity to uncover new information about my favorite songs, for example, has really helped me quell any nerves because I just really want to know the answers to my questions. If I don’t ask, I won’t know. Interviews also get easier as you do them more.

Ex Cops Troubadour

3. You have so many amazing interviews with bands! How does that happen..what’s the process?

Thank you! The interviews are my favorite part of After The Show. I’ve learned that timing matters (you’re more likely to get a Q&A with an artist who has new music to promote, for example), and sometimes all you have to do is ask.

I got tired of reading interviews with bands because the same 3-5 questions were repeatedly asked in every interview — it’s boring for readers and it’s boring for the bands. My goal is to delve deeper: on a micro level, I try to ask artists specific questions that they’ve never been asked before, and on a macro level, I try to make connections between albums/songs/broader themes in an artist’s work.

Crafting the questions for an interview is just like making a record. You start with everything on a huge canvas (i.e. Word document): you write down ideas, questions about lyrics, huge chunks of text that you copy/paste from online (you need to research by reading other interviews with the artist). Then, you group together similar ideas, making connections and organizing the information. You hone and narrow the text down, cutting the weakest/least interesting things.

Next comes sequencing. Put the questions in an order that flows and makes sense to you, and then you’ll have your final 10 questions. Removing your ego can be hard – you want to convey that you’ve done your research and have thought about this artist’s music, but you also want to ask what they want to be asked, and ask questions that will elicit strong answers. I hate when interviewers make the interview about themselves!

Listening to music is consuming rather than creating, so it can be incredibly fulfilling to ‘create’ something – an interview, a sneak-peek, a feature – with a creator you really respect. Someone gets to interview your favorite singers and songwriters, so why not you? It’s not always possible (if your favorite artist is dead or reclusive), but I think it’s so important to tell the creators/writers/composers of your favorite works that they’re meaningful to you and that you connected with the work.

Interviews typically happen over email, on the phone, in person, or over Skype. Email is least personal, but you may get better answers from your subject if they have time to think before they respond. Skype is my least favorite because you can’t predict how the internet connection will be.

Pianos Vic and Gab

4. What are your favorite and least favorite interviews you’ve ever done?

Luckily I haven’t had any interviews that were egregiously, memorably horrible. A few things make interviews successful — connecting to your subject, discovering new information that doesn’t exist anywhere else, and not having high expectations.

If the artist’s answers are intelligent, generous, and insightful, then I’m happy. If I had to pick my top favorite interview ever, I’d have to stay it’s a tie between Lynn Truell and Leslie Stevens.

Other favorites so far are (in roughly chronological order): Maria Taylor, Ben Lee, Lexi Valentine, Evan Lowenstein, Christy Romano, Mally Harpaz, Lara Meyerratken, Roddy Bottum, and Rachel Warren.

5. What do you envision for the future of After The Show?

I’ve considered getting more active, like Eric at The Wild Honey Pie, by booking shows, getting brand sponsors, and managing bands. But After The Show has always been a (relevant) side project to my work in music data. I’ve gotten to connect with artists whose music I love, make networking contacts with people who work in the music industry, and get into tons of shows. I’m looking forward to many years of listening to music and discovering new music to feature on After The Show.

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