A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend asking me if I was going to be in Chicago for Lollapalooza and if I had planned on going to the MBAA Launch Event.
I had no clue that a music blogger association existed, but was intrigued, so I reached out to them and was put in touch with Rashon Massey who is one of the founders. It makes so much sense to create a union of sorts for music bloggers since they wield so much power over their communities, so I was curious to read what his responses to my questions would be.
What was the motivation for starting the MBAA?
I started a blog several years ago called Roving Festival Writer. I vividly remember the Fall afternoon when TheRFW came to fruition. My blog co-founder and I were chatting about several Michigan print publications that were going under, the measly pay freelance writers were receiving from the Detroit Free Press and identifying exactly how the politics/model for the ‘old music industry’ were still very much in play. Eventually, these conversations blossomed into the creation of TheRFW, and though it took time to find the words to express our purpose, we ultimately decided our chief goal was to ‘document music just as’. In just about no time following, through our attending of live music events, we were able to begin gathering photographs, video coverage and exclusive interview sessions with artists, brands and key influencers to provide consistent and original copyrightable content for our blog. This was just 2005, mind you.
When TheRFW came along backstage to music festivals in the summer of ’06, we were one of a small handful of college students ushering in a new era of music journalism. As years rolled by, TheRFW would continue to grow in readership; moreover, I witnessed a steady increase in collegiate music enthusiast who took to publishing blogs to dish their opinions and reviews on pop-culture, music and entertainment. By 2008, bloggers had begun to dominate media areas at most music events TheRFW attended, and even the larger publications were saving costs by sending a staff photographer and just one writer/blogger. In just a few years, savvy hipsters and trend-watchers carrying laptops, microphones and business cards became all too normal in the media compound at events, and it was somewhere around this time the idea to bring all music blogger’s together started knocking my brain.
After spending the next couple years attending music industry conferences, the importance of music blogger’s uniting became a top priority for me. I remember attending the 2010 NARM conference in Chicago and learning that attendance was nearly HALF the size compared to the ’09 conference. This was because of mass job losses across the music industry, budget cuts to many companies and the closing of many record stores. It was just last year when the sales from physical copies of recorded music were still sinking (thankfully in ’11, the industry has Adele’s 21), and new technologies and blogs like Hype Machine, RCRD LBL, TopSpin, ReverbNation and Tune Core reigned supreme. With music bloggers being the foot soldiers largely influencing the successes and failures of recorded music, the need to band in order to share a common voice, information and validate the blogging medium as a trusted and lasting force within the music community was all too strong.
I reached out to two extremely well-connected and influential bloggers from different regions, Todd Walton and Brandon Dorsky, and together we began etching at a foundation that would allow for others to contribute towards the structural building of the Music Blogger’s Association of America.
Do you plan on monetizing the organization? Why/why not? And if so, how?
For the sake of developing and executing lasting revenue streams benefiting all members of the music blogging community, the MBAA plans to monetize the organization. While a free forum of information would greatly benefit members of the music blogging community, a free forum would only be able to provide so much. Through membership dues and events (conferences, performance showcases, etc) the MBAA can have the resources to do some rad things including the creation of an advertising network for all MBAA member blogs and a MBAA mobile application (which would serve as our trade journal/publication)- Two immediate ways our members can begin generating revenue for their blogs and themselves as site operators.
What are some goals for the end of the year?
A while back, I became quite fascinated with the world of branding and the importance of understanding your audience. With social media, we should celebrate in our opportunity to have conversations with people because our old ‘one-size fits all’ audience is now fragmented. And that is okay! I share this because as we move forward with the MBAA, we want to know WHO our bloggers are, what they care about, what information and resources THEY are looking for in a representative organization, and what are their plans for the future as bloggers. Blogging, in general, is still so very new, but we as an organization feel the platform is not going anywhere ANY time soon; for that reason, important conversations about the potential of music blogging needs to take place, and these exchanges and conversations are imperative to have before the MBAA can properly serve our members.
The rest of 2011, the MBAA is opening our doors to the entire music industry. We are meeting friends and future partners while identifying the needs of our members. Don’t get me wrong – we are actively working towards a music bloggers ad network, a SXSW event and a showstopper New Year’s Eve celebration; however, as far as the …. how shall we say…. meat n’ potatoes of the organization…well, that is a conversation we’re starting to have with our members because the strength and direction of this organization will come from their voices.
If you’re a music blogger, feel free to register for MBAA for free.