Point of View
Degree Leader for Music
at UCE Birmingham, UK.
Senior lecturer and researcher with a particular interest in
online music, radio and new media technology
answers the following question...
Does a musician really have to blog?
by Andrew Dubber
In most instances, the answer to
this one is a firm YES. In fact, I'm struggling to think of an
instance in which the online presence of a musician, band or
music enterprise would not be enhanced by the addition of a
The most common counter-argument against musicians blogging is
the idea of the 'aloof artist' – the notion that the mystique of
an inaccessible and ineffable artist adds to the value of the
work itself. I'm inclined to disagree, though of course, there
Burial is a good example of a musician with that sense of
mystery – but that takes real dedication. You pretty much have
to go into hiding to make that strategy worthwhile.
And, in fact, I think Burial could blog without giving the game
But the main reason to blog is not, as you might expect, that
it's a great way to promote your music. It's more that the blog
is now part of the way in which you do what you do.
Let me put it another way. Just as copying simply happens
online, so does communication.
Accessibility is the norm online
If I find it difficult to locate you, listen to your music, find
out what you're up to and where you're at, then it's far easier
for me to find an alternative source for what you do than it is
for me to go digging in order to find out what's going on.
If you're trying to get work, sell your music, gain clients,
gather fans, promote a record or a gig, or connect with the
online environment in any way, blogging is the first step
towards that. It is, at the very least, evidence that you
understand that your online presence should be a conversation
and not a brochure.
So what actually is a blog?
Well, actually, allow me to broaden the standard definition a
little. Generally speaking, the term comes from an abbreviation
of 'web log' – a continually updating 'diary' of events and
occurrences. But it really just needs to be some regular form of
communication that can be easily updated by you.
In that respect, I'd put a 'micro-blogging' platform like
Twitter on the
list. Mostly though, it's somewhere you can post the
latest news, thoughts, events, and interesting things as they
come to mind, so that visitors to your site can see the latest,
go back through previous posts – perhaps respond, and spread the
And the best reason to blog?
A smart friend of mine once said that the best music in the
world is the sound of someone's insides on the outside (yes, he
was an old punk – how did you know?). His point was one about
self-expression. That music, at its best, is something we can
identify with on a human level. And we tend to like music we can
relate to, because it expresses something of ourselves.
And because music is self-expressive, we are more positively
inclined towards music by people we know and like – because if
we like them, we're likely to appreciate expressions of their
So by logical extension – removing the curtain, engaging with
your audience and actually letting them in on your day to day
life will allow people to feel that they are getting to know you
(in a 'managed' way), and will therefore be increasingly
inclined to appreciate your music on that basis.
To put it in narrative terms – you become a character they care
about. Whether you're a musician, a label manager, a promoter, a
venue owner or a music teacher – starting and (more importantly)
maintaining a blog creates a story. People love stories — and want to know
what happens next — and if it's a story they like with
characters they can identify with, it will start to become
meaningful and important to them.
Everybody must blog
The idea that the world is divided into content creators and
consumers is increasingly redundant. What's important is
the quality, frequency and 'engageability' of your content – and
that's no longer restricted to your musical output.
The fact that you make music is unremarkable. The quality of
your communication — musical content included — is now the
measure by which you will be judged. This is not a call to pick
over the mundane minutiae of your life. This is a challenge to
And really, this is not such a radical or transformative idea.
Your music has always been communication. Your music business
has always been a communication business. This is about using
the online tools to enhance that communication.
© 2011 Andrew Dubber
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