In the early days of the Internet, the curatorial role of music blogs was essential to the music-lover. The overwhelming mass of content online proved difficult to sift through, and the voice of music bloggers provided guidance to listeners, drawing attention to talent.
Today’s world of 140 character tweets has led some to argue that music blogs are in decline, their usefulness deteriorating due to short-form music discovery platforms: streaming services, online mixtapes and apps. Yet others have noted that music blogs have taken on radio’s DJ-like responsibility, helping to dictate our music choices. Some of the larger entities must be cautious not to abuse their ability to direct the audience’s attention, a valuable asset and online currency in the “attention economy”. Indeed, the popularity and influence of some music blogs has swelled to impressive sizes - the so-called “Pitchfork effect” describes the well-known blog’s ability to boost (or reduce) sales of artists with a single review.
Greg Sandoval goes as far as to say music blogs are looking “less and less like Internet fanzines and more like a tech start-ups.” This may hold true for the giants of the music blogosphere, who have also been dubbed “the new record labels”, but most music blogs are still niche sites that stay true to their curator role. They gain the loyalty of their readers by finding and exposing talent, accumulating “currency” in the form of trust.
Regardless, one thing’s for certain, most of us still consider music blogs a cultural voice worth listening to - the popularity of blog-aggregators like Hype Machine and the hundreds of thousands of readers (and writers) of music blogs attest to that. Music blogs are even living through another medium that’s rapidly rising in popularity - music apps. Aside from creating apps that complement or regurgitate their own content, music blogs also have a presence within other apps.
Take Spotify’s app-within-an-app concept for instance. The desktop app has become a home for major music reviewers, even putting Pitchfork on the forefront of their Discover Tab. Then there’s apps like the concert-listing Timbre. They’ve contacted tastemakers throughout the interwebs and applied to live music what has proven popular for sorting through digital music; concert recommendations by trusted music blogs appear in the app in the form of “Noteworthy” lists. By partnering with “cultural voices” users already trust, the app helps them find concerts relevant to their tastes.
So, to say the future of music blogs looks bleak seems a bit unfair. Like much of the information industry, they’re slowly adjusting to the the changes brought about by new technologies and evolving consumer behaviors. Complimenting, or altogether moving, their content to new mediums may be one way music bloggers will adapt to today’s music landscape.