Is Blog Love Overvalued?

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It's funny watching new artists stumble over themselves trying to score coverage on popular blogs. Take the fast rising L.A. crew Odd Future, for example. Group captain Tyler, The Creator is almost as famous for his musical ingenuity as he is for his feud with revered rap blogs Nah Right and 2 Dope Boyz. After unleashing a slew of disses on the sites for ignoring his music, Tyler finally found a way to appear on the sites. He bought an ad for his Goblin LP. But when fans click on the ad, it brings up a teaser site which reads: "Fuck 2 Dope Boyz & Nah Right."

On the surface, it was a clever move, and Tyler is obviously having fun with the beef at this point. But it also betrayed his innermost desire to gain the cosign of those blogs, which is interesting, given that he's made it this far without their backing.

There are three main rationales behind the fervent pursuit of accolades from blogs: (1) visibility; (2) the appearance of legitimacy; (3) leverage. Question is, what's the actual worth of blog love? In the big picture, it is a currency with depressingly low conversion rates.

Part of the problem is that music bloggers are known to update at a feverish pace. The expression "first!" must have been coined by a music blogger. This means that obscure artists who somehow manage to score a post on big blogs usually see their content get drowned out as new posts pop up.

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With the success of a few big blogs came the proliferation of overvalued clones. These copycats regurgitate content seen on bigger sites and clutter the web while simultaneously driving the value of those blogs that do hold value. It's a double whammy that puts a bigger wedge between unsigned acts and quality blogs.

Blog love yields little reward in the leverage department. We're still waiting to hear the story of the first artist to score a major deal because of a blog post. Most hip-hop heads remember the impact of The Source magazine's Unsigned Hype column. We know about the likes of Nas and Biggie Smalls igniting their careers via The Stretch & Bobbito show. We've heard of bands gaining momentum after a SXSW performance. How many artists have made similar strides following a blog post? Even in this age of social media, many still prefer radio as the go-to format for breaking new records. DJs break the song, then we Tweet about it.

The bottom line is that the music business is exactly that - a business. And the purpose of business is to generate profit. So far, we haven't seen any solid evidence showing that blog love holds real business value. That doesn't mean it's not a possibility in the future, but we're not there yet.

It's not just blogs, either. Last year, Information Is Beautiful released a digital royalties chart based on a post by The Cynical Musician. The findings were a bit surprising. To make the monthly minimum wage of $1,160, for instance, an artist must move 12,399 iTunes songs at $0.99 a pop. Not exactly Bill Gates money here.

This isn't to say that blogs don't offer any real value. The blogosphere is still the last bastion of hope for unknown talent and independent acts, but artists need to have realistic expectations about the web as a whole.

Music blogs provide some value - just not the business value most artists are hoping to cash in on - at least not yet.

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6 comments
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TDKS FBT
TDKS FBT

I've gotten more diggs on a single comment i made than i have views on my blog for the past month.

Barry Donegan
Barry Donegan

It's good for bands to appear on blogs though as it can be difficult to even achieve appropriate listings in search results without lots of blogs reviewing a band's album. Many bands have the same names as other things, and this is a challenge that even the smallest blog's record review helps overcome.

Matt
Matt

You are tripping. Many rappers whose nation wide popularity is closely tied with their internet presence have been signed. People who have released free digital projects for most of their careers.

Wiz Khalifa (Atlantic)Curren$y (Warner Brothers)Big Sean (GOOD Music)Yelawolf (Shady Records)Big K.R.I.T (Def Jam)Pill (Maybach Music)Freddie Gibbs (CTE, and the Smoking Section practically single handily revived his career)Kendrick Lamar (working with Dr. Dre)

And for those who haven't been signed, or who haven't necessarily made a ton of money off their recorded music, many have been able to tour the country, which is where everyone knows the real money is these days.

Get Right Music
Get Right Music

Interesting post. An artist isn't going to get a major record deal off of 1 blog post, I agree. But, there have been many artists who have benefited and signed record deals due to the frequency "buzz" of an artists blog posts across numerous blogs. For instance, Drake, who due to the popularity of his mixtape "So Far Gone," being posted on so many blogs, in turn signed a major deal with Cash Money. There's also lots of smaller artist who have signed smaller independent label deals (which can be more lucrative) due to their buzz on major blogs. I agree that music blogs are overpopulated these days, that's why I always check TheOverFeed.com, but when an artist is "buzzing" it's because of their love from the blogs. That's the way the game is right now, things can always change and they will.

Birthplace Magazine
Birthplace Magazine

Really great analysis. Getting on blogs, even highly trafficked ones, should just be one part of an overall PR strategy. Think of the countless artists who get ignored by Nah Right and just didn't do anything about it. Tyler the Creator did something about it. It was, for all intents and purposes, an anti-blog media marketing plan. And it worked! At BirthplaceMag.com, an online pub focused on NY-area hip hop, we make it a point NOT to post everything, generally picking and choosing what we think is worthy, and catering to what we believe our audience would most appreciate. That type of readership analysis seems lost in the blog world, where most blogs simply exist to post any and everything, as fast as possible, with as little commentary as possible. We try and be more noble in our journalism, working hard to have more features, less "check out this new video," and while we won't get the big internet numbers, we think our niche approach will gain us loyalty, reader trust and respect for expertise in our niche. We hope to be the kind of blog/online publication that will rise to the top of the muck and when the anyone-can-be-a-blogger novelty wears off, will emerge as the type of blog/site where love and a co-sign actually does matter again.

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