To Blog or Not To Blog

“Do you think I should start a blog?”

This question has come up so many times over the past few weeks that I feel it should be addressed. With so many websites now being built using the WordPress platform, it’s a natural question that arises from the dynamic nature of the format. I wish there were a clear-cut, yes or no answer, but the reality is that there isn’t one! The answer is really that it’s up to you (sorry y’all), but here are some very basic questions to ponder that may help you come up with an answer:

Why?
Think about why you would do such a thing. More often than not, the answer seems to be, “Well, I’m just finishing up a degree program/(re)entering the job market and I have to get myself out into the world, and having a blog seems like a good way to do it.” Okay, that may be true if you have something you are burning to write about—contemporary music as it relates to politics, the ever-changing world of arts administration, deep thoughts about Neapolitan sixths, composers and their cats, mushrooms, whatever! There is a topic for everyone. However, if keeping a blog brings up the word “should,” as in it’s something you feel you “should” do, it’s probably best to steer clear of the whole ordeal. There are already so many lonely, neglected blogs lying fallow across the internet plains that were founded on the word “should.” But if it’s a true “want” in that you’re dying to do it, then by all means knock yourself out!

What?
If there are things that you are itching to write or talk about in some way, shape, or form, do they really require a blog format? There are tons of ways to bring good ideas to life. If you have a few like-minded, tech-savvy friends you could form a group to discuss various happenings and topics; you could make podcasts of interviews with performers and composers; compositions can be documented in creative ways; heck, you can even stalk a musician and make a little documentary! If you have your heart set on a blog though, it’s good to have some sort of angle, be it sassy, nichey, awkward, humbling, or focused in some creative way on what’s important to you.

What’s in it (or not) for you?
Finally, one last question to mull over is whether keeping a blog is worth the time it takes away from other activities such as composing or performing music. If the concern is about getting oneself out into the world, is having a blog the most effective way to do that, when there is already something that puts you out there? For some the answer is a resounding yes, and that can be completely inspiring. It really has to do with what you bring to the table, and how best to pass it around.

I hope that those of you out there with blogs, podcasts, etc., will add your thoughts on your activities in the comments.

8 thoughts on “To Blog or Not To Blog

  1. Kyle Gann

    No no, Alexandra, it’s the advantage of a blog that it puts off having to compose or perform music, grade papers, cook dinner, see friends, and so on.

    Reply
  2. Andrew Sigler

    Wow, I couldn’t agree more. There are SO many people (in and out of concert music) who start and poorly maintain blogs that it really does beg the question, “What are you doing?!?!” Blogs are like relationships in that they are never static. They either move forward or they waste away. Woody Allen put it best when discussing relationships…

    “A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

    If you aren’t able to put in the time (in sickness and in health)then a blog is not for you. A regular website with quarterly updates is really more up your alley I think…otherwise you’ve got a dead shark.

    Reply
  3. Steve Layton

    All true. But I think that for anyone who either hasn’t made their own website yet, or is terrible with html/etc. and the upkeep required, using a blog platform like WordPress is a great idea. It doesn’t have to be an out-and-out blog; you can create different pages for all the parts of a ‘normal’ site — bio, works, news, calendar, recordings and so on — with great ease, and the WordPress platform will always keep it rational and tidy. Updating any section becomes extremely easy, too. And yes, one page could be a blog about whatever strikes your fancy, but it doesn’t have to be the main page.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Sigler

      I agree with you Steve, but maybe it’s matter of terminology. To me, a “blog” implies something that should be fairly regularly updated while a “website” requires less maintenance. When I go to a conventional website that hasn’t changed in a month I don’t think much of it because I think of websites as a sort of calling card writ large, whereas if I visit a blog that hasn’t changed in a month I tend to think that someone has framed their “Internet Information Vehicle” poorly. My website is a WordPress site and I put it together for exactly the reasons you mention above, namely that it can walk and talk like a duck (though it’s technically a blog), and it was simple to construct and maintain. My previous site was rarely updated simply because every time I went to do an update I had to pull an HTML book from the shelf and spend a few hours worrying about whether or not I forgot a slash that might ruin a page. WordPress is fantastic.

      Reply
  4. Chris Becker

    One function of my blog is to archive interviews I’ve done over the years with authors, musicians and composers who have inspired my own work. Some of the interviews are quite lengthy, and sit well on the blog as a reference for people interested in reading extended conversations about art. So far I’ve archived interviews with author musician Ned Sublette, saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts, sound artist Douglas Henderson, musician and author Michael Veal, and many others including most recently jazz pianist Bobby Lyle.

    The blog, interviewing and writing has in fact led to paid work, although that happened after I relocated from NYC to Houston. And I wonder if the
    “blog” and social networking doesn’t serve the creative community in more tangible ways than those tools do in the big apple? It’s an observation, but I haven’t sorted out why these online tools have served me better here in H-Town than in New Yawk?

    Reply

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