What's it like to run a music website?

Conversations about the future of music journalism

What's it like to run a music website?
Photo by Matthew Kwong / Unsplash

I could indulge you with tales of meeting rock legends for a quick interview that turned into drinking until dawn on the record label’s tab, stories of flying to Mexico for 72 hours, lugging sacks of records to my desk…. but the reality is, it’s a lot less glamorous than that (at least 99.9% of the time).

Which is perhaps why it took me so long to realise that the Cameron Crowe version of being a music writer is one of a myriad of reasons media is finding it so hard to get support from its readers or the artists/labels it champions. Sites from Vice to Gal-Dem, Bandcamp Daily to Tinymixtapes, have withered or died over the last two decades or so of running Drowned in Sound.

When I set out to record a season of the Drowned in Sound podcast dedicated to where music media might be headed, I had a bajillion different angles I wanted to explore from the economics of subscriptions to the evolution into video essays.

Source: Charli XCX’s Twitter - is she right?!

I’ve really lucked out. Pretty much everyone I've asked has not only been amenable but also gracious with their time, thoughtful with their answers, insightful with their stories, and very giving when it came to even my most functional questions about how, what and why the music press and all its different permutations were, are and - I hope - will forever be quite so important.

There are 4 episodes of this season available now to clamber into with the culture editor of the Big Issue, a music writer who focuses on climate journalism, the co-founder of Kickstarter on the history of journals from The Royal Society to Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal magazine, and my latest episode is with Emma Swann, the co-founder of the brilliant DIY Magazine.

DIY’s editorial has always been trustworthy and full of great recommendations. It was founded back in 2002 and much like DiS, has grown and grown, both in scale and scope. They too have released records, promoted tours, and they’ve gone one better than I ever have, and got themselves several years of consistently producing a great print edition.

Search for Drowned in Sound wherever you get your podcasts to subscribe. Or you can just click me.

If you’ve been listening and have any thoughts, feedback or suggestions, drop me a reply. I’ve got time to speak to a few more guests as I’m extending the series a bit, so ideas are welcomed.