There were a total 39 million tumblr blogs in 2011. That’s 38.9998 million people with nothing to say. A lot of filth. As a long time sifter of Internet filth, I’ve learned a few things– the most important of which being this:
Use an RSS reader.
I read a plethora of regularly updating blogs. Some are music related, others about Boston, and some extras sprinkled in like Cute Overload and Lifehacker. My tool of choice is Google Reader. From a musician’s standpoint, it’s yet another Google tool worth using to manage your own cloud and better aim your marketing. Here’s why.
1. It integrates with all other Google Services.
There’s nothing better than having all your services in one place. Google has mastered the art of the cloud, making it easier for us poor people to solve logistical and work flow challenges on the go without needing to hire an IT guy. Google Reader is available as a browser extension, Gmail widget, myGoogle widget, and as an app. Allowing the reader to be integrated with other services you use on a regular basis keeps you from missing important articles or trends.
Musician’s spin: Add your Google Reader widget to email to track include industry feeds, upcoming concerts, product releases, or alerts with your band name or artist name.
2. It makes suggestions for you. Alternately, you can make suggestions to others.
You’ll never get all the information you need to be well rounded from one blog. I track over 100 sites. Half of them, I’ve never even directly visited. Google Reader’s “Recommended items” option on the left will suggest blogs to add to the feed. I can read articles directly from google reader. Under the “View all recommendations” option in Google reader, you can select individual blogs or groups of feeds to add to your arsenal of information overload. If you put together a kick-ass list of live concert review blogs and feel the need to share with others, you can post the collection as a bundle and Google will recommend it to others.
Musician’s spin: Don’t just add blogs from corporate websites. Do some research and look for personal blogs from pros who have done it. A lot of times, these blogs are somewhat hidden, like Mike King‘s, but are awesome resources. (I’ve only been able to find his by searching his name.)
3. It lists and sorts articles in a way that makes sense.
Usually, when I want an update on music industry news, I don’t want lolCatz in the same group of articles. With a feed reader, you can organize all your RSS feeds into logical folders. Mine includes: Marketing, Industry, Product News, Branding, Fitness, Tech, Lifestyle, and several others sprinkled in. Folders are viewable separately or you can view everything at once by clicking “All items.” Articles are un-bolded after reading and the “mark all as read” comes in handy when sorting articles.
Musician’s Spin: Make folders for specific items like your competitors, music product news, or concert reviews in major cities you’re planning on touring in. Research is easier done over time!
4. Track industry trends, happenings, and amusements.
Your brain is your source for market research when you’re a musician. Very rarely will you have to make a fully fleshed out marketing plan or analysis to present to board members if you’re an artist. It just won’t happen unless you’re pining for investors or starting/maintaining a non-profit organization. Even music-based small businesses struggle with this; the resources just aren’t available for work of that scale. As a musician, you rely heavily on what you read and what’s trending in that reading. Even seeing the headline of the article is enough to get the gist of what’s going on in the world. Pick the articles you really want to read (which on a good day will probably be 5-10) and skim the rest. Headlines, by nature, are supposed to inform you before reading so if you’re not interested in the full article, you can still be marginally informed.
5. It’s free.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who don’t take advantage of the amount of resources available. There is a breadth of information for anyone with an Internet connection in any field you can imagine. Advice you had to pay for ten years ago is now offered up for free online by experts and novices alike. I can’t stress enough how amazing this is. Not to take advantage of this is just lunacy. Take a moment and think of the most inspiring people you know. Now Google them. Do they have an RSS feed? Add it to your reader.
Musician’s Spin: At Berklee College of Music, there are often seminars and clinics from industry players. I made a habit of bookmarking their websites, taking notes, and favoriting relevant articles while I was a student. I still do this when I stumble on someone who inspires me. Everyone has something to say. You have to decide who’s worth listening to.
6 Music industry blogs to add to your RSS feed:
Derek Sivers - Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life.
Mike King - Music Business and Trend Mongering
Digital Music News - The authority for music industry professionals worldwide.
Pitchfork - The essential guide to independent music and beyond.
Indie Ambassador - Boston-based media & technology company devoted to building tools for musicians and creators.
Pro Sound Network - Reviews, Tools, Live Charts, Recording Gear, & Business