Five years on; so what now?

12 Sep

crossroads

Five years ago, to this very day, the already named but somewhat silent Alphabet Bands was born and began to take its first steps to becoming the website that it is today. A largely silent blog.

Yes, it is somewhat ironic that while we celebrate five years of blogging, it comes after our most extended period of non-writing in that whole time. The length of our silence was not intentional, we knew there would be holidays where we wouldn’t write and that the Euro football tournament would distract us. We hadn’t appreciated that the distractions would continue though, that so many TV shows and evening activities would get in the way, that trying to improve our overall health and fitness (yes, really) would take time and so much energy that we would lack the motivation to put fingers to keyboard.

There was plenty of music we enjoyed and loved in that period, yet we still didn’t write. So we find ourselves at something of a crossroads. What do we do now?

We don’t want to end the site. Listening to and sharing music is still fun, talking about it and getting all hyperbolic and metaphorical is still rewarding and the buzz we get when bands get in touch to thank us and tell us how much it has helped is still incredible. Writing this blog has opened so many doors for us we still find it hard to believe. The number and the brilliance of the people we have met across all aspects of the industry has been amazing. The opportunities to meet, spend time with, speak to and even (to a degree) influence artists we love is one we are forever grateful for.

We have been able to film intimate acoustic sessions with some wonderful artists and we’ve managed to put on a couple of gigs – bringing some of our absolute favourites out to the wilds of Norwich to perform. We’ve even, sort of, got a record label (and people who want to work with us on it), something that could never have happened without Alphabet Bands. Most importantly, we were able to use the site, with our good buddy Breaking More Waves to raise over £1,500 for Cancer Research.

Yet we are at this crossroads. What happens next?

We’ve considered writing less (yes, we know, we’re writing nothing at all at the mo, how can we do less?) and trying to focus more on the quality than the quantity. Yet all that has done has effectively given us an excuse not to write at all.

We’ve thought about expanding out to other forms of media as well. Maybe doing long recorded interviews with artists, really getting into who they are, what and why they do what they do and finding out what makes them tick. If we did though, how should that be presented? Every man, woman and their dog has a podcast these days, do we want to just add to the noise there? Would people even want to listen?

Should we just keep doing what we have been doing? Tracks, videos and the occasional album review thrown in? Maybe try and record more sessions again? Write long-form interviews? More random features on people or labels? Random thoughts on older music, music that means something to us for various reasons perhaps?

We’re open to ideas. What do people want from a music blog these days? And when I say we, I mean me. Adam H. Should I even just start writing in the first person again? I’ve always thought that there was something more professional in using the royal we, distancing myself slightly and speaking with (hopefully) a more authoritative voice. Does that work? Do people care?

All suggestions are welcome. As I said, five years on and Alphabet Bands stands at something of a crossroads.

Which path do we take?

Here’s a wonderful tune from Penny Bridges to listen to while you think and hopefully comment with suggestions.

Thank you.


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9 Responses to “Five years on; so what now?”

  1. Karl Varga September 12, 2016 at 22:20 #

    I’m a fairly new viewer… reader? I have enjoyed discovering some new bands on here and really enjoyed listening to them and playing them on my weekly Radio show. I have been at this kind of crux before, both on my radio work and when writing a blog, a few years ago, about new music and mashups.

    It’s hard to give up something that you love that means so much even if RL is imposing restrictions… I found that by refocussing on one aspect… the radio for me… I was able to dedicate enough time to be happy with and enjoy what I was doing, while still entertaining and educating people on what I thought was cool at the time.

    I would say do what you think will give you the most satisfaction in the time that you will have available, as the more satisfied you are the more entertaining it will be.

    • Adam H September 13, 2016 at 11:17 #

      Thanks Karl, wise words. I think you are right about focusing rather than diversifying. Food for thought, thank you.

  2. Sarah (HEZEN) September 12, 2016 at 22:48 #

    Hey Adam,
    I don’t listen to new music much. I don’t really read blogs. I tend to always listen to my same fabvourite albums – and feel really ashamed about it but hey, it’s the way it is. Most of the time where I’m not working on my music, I just really enjoy silence.
    So I can’t really give you my opinion about this side of things. In fact I’m not bringing anything to the table but still wanted to write something, even if you’ve already mentionned it in your post.

    The only thing I can talk about is how important reading your review of their track is for a small unknown artist (= my perspective).
    It’s incredible. In a sea of information where so much good shit get posted everyday, knowing that someone read our email, listened and enjoyed our music, is priceless, and I can’t tell you how much of an impact on our motivation it has, wanting to stick to it, work harder, believe in it despite all the odds. Someone cares enough that they took some time to express their emotions about it. Someone got it. An emotional connection was made. Fuck.
    I don’t know if every small unknown artist feels the same way, but it must be the norm, surely. That’s definitely how I felt when I read your incredible reviews (one of the most emotional responses I’ve ever had – in fact your reaction is the very aim of my music and I didn’t know it was possible to get it in someone who doesn’t know me personally).

    So I don’t know what path Alphabet Bands should take. I wish I could be of more help and have cool suggestions, but I’m really ill-equiped to make any interesting one. I can only say that Alphabet Bands’ existence is so, so important to so many artists and bands, and, for whatever that’s worth, it is very dear to me. So no, please don’t end the site.

    ps: I like the first person “I”. Your reviews are so personal and deep, to me it has even more significance if it’s expressed by an “I” because it is you who got stirred by a particular thing that you heard, there’s gut feeling. Your subjectivity is what differentiates your interpretation and your emotions from someone else’s and that’s so meaningful to know for an artist.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    • Adam H September 13, 2016 at 11:19 #

      Sarah,

      Bless you. Such a wonderful comment and such kind and inspiring words. It’s not always easy to see or appreciate the role this blog might play in helping artists, let alone inspiring them, so words like this are truly touching and motivational. Thank you so much.

  3. The Khanz September 12, 2016 at 23:01 #

    Wow. No advice here, mate, just gratitude, admiration and respect for what you do. Writing ventures are easy to start, but hard to keep going, especially after five years and even more so in a world where anyone who can tap out what looks like words on a keyboard thinks they can write. But you really can write, and you love what you do, so as long a that’s in place, what you tap out will be valued by someone, somewhere. Whether that’s enough to make it worthwhile … well, only you can know that. Thanks for all the posts and good luck whatever you do.

    • Adam H September 13, 2016 at 11:22 #

      Thank you all (I’m not sure who is commenting so I will treat you all as one collective mind) this means a lot and it is wonderful to hear from you.

      It may not feel like you’re offering advice but your comment is helping steer me, so thank you.

  4. Andy VonPip September 15, 2016 at 17:53 #

    Aye , I’m with you. Life (or rather death) has made it impossible for me to continue regularly at present. But I was already having an existential blog crisis

    My main reasons were – the churn, the race to be first at the expense of fact-checking and decent writing ! Meanwhile, the bigger sites seem to have morphed into part of the overall industry machine, becoming the very thing they once sought to provide an alternative to. Elsewhere there’s often a complete lack of objectivity and way too much PR fluffing for pats on the head and freebies.

    Although most blogs tend to focus on the positive it can lead to a culture of samey happy clappy blog posts all promoting similar PR pushed music , (isn’t everything just “AMAZING” kind of vibe).

    Then there’s the fact that many blogs seem to lack their own unique voice and simply regurgitate PR. Others ape the tired Morleyesque word salad which obviously makes them appear to be some sort of intellectual and literary giant whilst others singularly fail to communicate any kind of passion for music! Alphabet bands isn’t one of those blogs and I’d like to see it continue if you find your mojo and have the time. Sometimes it only takes one tune to draw you back in …

    • Adam H September 17, 2016 at 21:09 #

      Thanks Andy, that means a lot coming from a blogger who I have nothing but respect and admiration for. Thank you for the kind and supportive words.
      Oddly, it is reassuring to know that others have had similar feelings. I share your frustrations with the race to be first and the almost routine regurgitation of press releases as if that constitutes actual writing.

      I’m sorry to hear of the difficulties you are facing at the moment. I hope you and yours are able to get through it and life can return to some form of normality for you. It sounds trite to say, but time does help.
      Best wishes,

      Adam

  5. Name not supplied October 31, 2016 at 22:40 #

    Dude, keep going. Your words mean a lot to new artists. I know what it’s like to perform to literally a handful of people but if more people wrote and posted about the kinds of things I did then it’s easier to get people interested. Things artists can share, tweet and so on mean everything.
    That is all

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