WARNING: This is a wholly narcissistic post about The State Of This Blog, so if you are faint of heart, skip to the last paragraph, there there is a TL;DR.
Oh, I’ve dropped in some good new music too, as a fish-hook.
A few hardy souls have noticed that, in the last few months, my rate of posting here on ANBAD has deteriorated to the point that the blog’s very title is appearing more ridiculously tenuous than ever before.
What has caused such tardiness?
Did that AIM Award nomination (which coincided with the start of the Blog Post Rot) inflate my prickly ego to the point where I was above writing about new bands? You know, now that I’m a certified tastemaker, and don’t have time for the little people?
Well, no. (OK, a bit). If anything, the generous AIM nod forced me to pull my socks up and keep posting at an artificially-boosted rate until the awards ceremony, simply because I didn’t want to appear there as the editor of a daily music blog that posted only once a week.
Actually, the real reason behind the blogging no-show is, on one hand, far more prosaic, and on the other a Sign O’ The Times.
Five-years-and-a-bit ago, I named the blog A New Band A Day at least partly as a means of forcing myself to overcome creative inertia and write every day; with the hope of becoming passably skilled at something that could help me find a job I enjoyed in the future.
I have thus trodden the literally aeons-old path of: music blogging → music PR, and have been very happily working in this capacity since the turn of the year.
So my available time for music blogging has decreased a little bit – ironically, just as I’m being exposed to new music than ever before. (Like this great tune from Backbone, for instance.)
And yet, I can still easily find the time needed each day to write the posts.
The writing bit, funnily enough, is a piece of cake, in terms of time. Generally, I try and knock out an article as fast as I can, with sub-20 minutes being a sweet spot that I can regularly hit.
This rapidity is merely the result of writing 250 words, five days a week, for five years.
In that time, the three key things I’ve learnt are: touch-typing, ruthless on-the-hoof editing of hyperbole, and the ability to trust that what I write is going to be passable at worst, and good at best. Ceasing to agonise over every sentence you write is a truly liberating feeling.
Yes, but why am I only writing about a new band about once a week now?
Well, the part that takes the time – the time I just can’t find – is going through all the new music in the first place.
If you are a masochist, read the Twitter feed of any new-music journalist, DJ or blogger, and there will periodically be an OH GOD HELP ME tweet complaining that they have more music to listen to than there are hours in the day.
My inbox has stood at the daunting figure of “999+ unread” for well over a year, and I suspect that most music bloggers experience the same physical pangs of fear that I do every time I peep into my emails.
In desperation, I have developed a miserable ruthlessness for deleting emails, unread, at the merest hint of perceived inappropriateness.
The mention of ‘post-rock’ in the subject line; a first line that begins “Sorry for the mass mail but…”; the word ‘sophomore’: these, and many more harmless traits are a one-way ticket to the email graveyard. (The below new song by ANBAD faves Painted Zeros is one that somehow dodged the inbox slash ‘n’ burn – and good job too, as it’s a fabulous cut.)
I imagine most music bloggers do the same thing. I guess they also feel the same sense of horrible guilt I do every time I mass-delete 200 unread emails: each of which contains music drawn from months of work, hope, ambition, love, fear, dreams, faith, longing, etc. – you know, what makes us human in the first place.
But even if I grab 30 minutes a day, and devote it entirely to sifting through new-band emails, I can evaluate possibly 20 bands at most: and that’s giving one song per band 15 seconds’ listening time – which, frankly, is unusually generous. And out of 20 bands, I only occasionally find one I think is worth writing about.
Here’s the crux of it: even if I can clear 20 bands’ emails a day, I am only making an ever-smaller dent in an ever-bigger pool of unread mail and unheard music. There is too much. (Including this great Bloum track…)
Simply put: I do not have enough time to go through the music in my emails and identify the good stuff any more.
I have time to write and post the article, but not the time to find suitable bands to write about. Even if I wrote off the blogging part, and just posted a bulleted list of five good new bands every week, I would still be pushed for the time to find five good new bands. The good artists are still out there, in spades. And quality is the only thing that counts, so I can’t concede ground here. It’s agonisingly frustrating.
With this in mind, I have literally no idea how to solve this problem, besides petitioning Parliament for an 8-day week.
I’m not whinging about my lot – who cares about the problems of another fucking music blogger? Yet: I don’t want to quit the blog, because I love new music and I love writing about it and sharing it and discussing it.
I imagine a lot of music bloggers are in this position too. I’m honest enough to concede that ANBAD can’t continue as it used to until a solution to this most modern of problems is found. I’m a bit stuck.
Suggestions in solving this are (very) welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
TL;DR: ANBAD’s output has tailed-off because I now receive so much new music that the mere act of trying to find the good music in the pile is so time-consuming that there’s none left to blog about it. Woe is me, etc.
Why we write, or: How we learned to stop worrying about hits and love the music. | Alphabet Bands
Hey man, I’m a longtime subscriber and I like your blog for many reasons, and I have a suggestion for you. When I go through blogs now looking for new music (I realise I am absolutely in a huge minority who “sweeps” blogs ever week) I tend to read one off articles more than reviews. As you say, that extra level of hyperbole is something that can be tough to achieve when you’re trying to convince someone it is worth listening to a band, every single day. Just thinking about that feels tiring. On the readers side, once I have a few lines I know whether I want to press play on the soundcloud or not.
So my suggestion is, just don’t write as much. I think you could go as far as to have your daily post to just be a video and maybe a few lines “this excites me because….” and then a weekly, longer special on something perhaps. By being on a blog called “a new band a day” this isn’t “a new utterly sensational band that you will love every day,” it’s just stuff we might like. The fact that it is on the blog is recommendation in itself, and let’s face it, the listener will make up their own mind if they like it or not anyway.
Thanks for your comment and kind words – and for taking the time to comment!
I think I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion as you, to be honest, and after having a restorative week off, I think that’s probably what I’m going to (try!) to start implementing!