Infectious Magazine caught up with The Music Sponge founder, Lindsey Goetsch to discuss launching her first music blog, submission suggestions for bands who want to get noticed, and how she runs the blog 100% by herself. Tips and tricks for artists & aspiring music journalists in this one, so check it out below and visit The Music Sponge or tweet Lindsey @arestlessaffair to show your support!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you?
Well, there’s not much to complain about, thanks to the beautiful weather in Southern California. I am soaking up the sun in hopes of getting some color before summer!
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I have always been interested in computers and technology, teaching myself how to use a PC at the age of five. My dad is a marketing guy and computer nerd, so he hooked me up with a custom built computer, loaded software. Neopets, (yes, the virtual game and my guilty pleasure), and Myspace were actually the first platforms I used to teach myself HTML. These led to my curiosity of Photoshop, where I taught myself the ins and outs. Soon after, I began to collect albums of various genres of music. At an early age, I realized I wanted to get my degree in something that had to do with computers, marketing and advertising for the music industry.
In 2012, I attended the Art Institute of Orange County for Advertising, where I learned that I did not want to be taught how to create art, but I did learn a lot from the photography class I took. My professor taught us how to shoot “raw” and in “jpeg”, and I was truly touched when she told me I had a natural eye. My uncle, also a tech-geek, installed Adobe Creative Suite (CS6) on my MacBook Pro and I have taught myself Illustrator and InDesign. I became Arts & Entertainment editor of the Saddleback College newspaper, the Lariat, and have learned a lot about myself and the industry. News writing was never my forte, so at first it was hard to learn AP Style and distinguish the difference between creative and news writing. I switched my major to communications with an emphasis in public relations and am excited to have put myself in the music industry. I love all genres of music and I’m infatuated with festivals, why they choose the artists they do, reasons behind the theme and art installations they chose, the process of booking, etc. Although it is cliche, music really is a release. I actually just got engaged this year at Coachella during the end of Arcade Fire’s performance on Sunday night. The feeling of being at a show or festival is indescribable and really is another world. It is very hard to come back to a life with traffic, crowded places and stress. I wish every day could be spent living with friends, different music and love.
What led you to launch The Music Sponge?
An old friend of mine once told me that I should start a blog advertising different places to eat in Orange County, since it is sometimes difficult to find fun things to do and new places to go. One night, I stayed up thinking of all the places I’ve been, while researching new places to go. “A Restless Affair” came to mind when I was thinking, “people who are looking for a different experience are usually the ones who are up all night, being ‘restless’ and involved with nightlife affairs and social scenes.” At first, my blog was going to feature places to eat, artsy bars and things to do along the cost, from southern San Diego to northern Santa Barbara. All of these ideas were a lot for me to take on by myself. Also, I started to incorporate music venues and I got a bit off track. That’s when the idea came to mind to create a blog strictly for music. [Note: Lindsey later changed the blog to be called “The Music Sponge”]
Pitchfork really influenced me and I found a lot of great sources and websites of record labels to find new artists. SoundCloud is another source I have invested a lot of my time into and has led to finding great talent. I used Twitter to interact with companies like The Do LAb, were I won tickets for one of my favorite UK DJs, Phaeleh, at the King King in Los Angeles. I saw he was interacting with them and decided to send him a tweet, asking to interview him before the show, and he actually responded! I was very excited, not in the star-struck way, but more so to speak with him about his experiences. I wrote about eight pages of questions after researching, watching and listening to all his past interviews, came up with follow-up questions and created my own, unique interview. He laughed when I handed him the stapled packet of questions, and with his British accent he said, “What do you got, a bloody bible?” It was a great experience and since then, I have reached out to many bands on Twitter. Each time I write about an artists, I “mention” them so they see that I’ve noticed their talent, and they usually respond. It’s quite fun.
You’re running the site 100% by yourself at this point. How do you manage to balance that workload, and what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced
Balancing workloads with my personal life has been a quality I have, thanks to my mom. She is a director for human resources, and is very organized when it comes to planning things and meeting deadlines. I have been able to balance my blog because music is a genuine passion of mine. Some people wake up, drink their coffee and read the newspaper. For me, I wake up, check out the latests posts on Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Twitter, BeatPort, SoundCloud, etc., make my coffee, run back up to my room and research all things music. Because there is so much information circulating the internet, and so many tools that can be used to discover music, I often find myself reading about a PR company in London who represent artists like Daft Punk.
It is very challenging having so many ideas, because I want to write about so many things, however, it takes longer than I would like. Night time is when I find myself writing and researching the most, so I’ll stay up until 4 a.m. to write a perfect post. I have learned that it is important to focus on one topic and finish it, then move on to the next. Recently, I have changed the name of my blog to “The Music Sponge,” but it is a process to change the URL, so I am slowly getting there. The Music Sponge felt appropriate because I am soaking up new artists and squeezing them out for good use; kind of like a sponge.
What is one of the biggest mistakes bands make when submitting to The Music Sponge?
Surprisingly, there are no mistakes. Life is a learning process for everyone, and reaching out to bloggers is the most exciting things bands can do. When they do reach out, most are excited to read the positive feedback. They seem excited to know that someone is promoting and sharing their work. I try to mix it up with themed playlists and reviews, and also incorporate the artists’ SoundCloud and music videos, (if any), to get their stuff out there.
You’re a freelance writer for Capitol Records. Can you tell us how you landed that role?
As I mentioned earlier, I was Arts and Entertainment editor for the newspaper at my college. The manager of publicity emailed my professor and newspaper advisor, asking to speak with the arts and entertainment editor. While in production in the newsroom, she forwarded me the email and I was confused why she sent it. She told me, “go outside and call him!” I called him and he asked me if I had heard of the show, House of Lies. I said yes, but honestly, I had not seen one episode. He continued on to tell me that he would like me to review the new soundtrack Universal Music Group had created, based on hand-picked songs from seasons 1-3. Of course I agreed. He sent me a link to the soundtrack, which could only be opened once, and I completed the review within a few hours. It’s funny, because I listened to the music before watching the show, and track one of the soundtrack was Gary Clark Jr.’s, “Bright Lights”. I instantly came up with an analysis of the first episode, simply because of the song.
You’ve held some marketing and editorial internships throughout your career. Do you think these have helped makeThe Music Sponge what it is and prepared you for future positions?
Absolutely. The internships I have been lucky enough to experience and the connections I’ve been able to make, have definitely taught me some aspects of being professional. When it comes to my blog though, it came mainly from research and determination. I never wrote before this. I just kind of let my thoughts flow through my computer. Being an editor for the newspaper, I got a lot of feedback, however, news writing is completely different. I basically learned by doing. My blog is more creative.
What advice would you like to pass along to those looking to break into the music industry?
Make connections with people in all areas of the industries, especially bloggers and journalists. These are the people who will genuinely promote your work and spread the word. Because it is hard to be heard in the music industry, social media is a tool that helps makes this possible. Follow people who are useful to you and mention them in your tweets, because they will retweet you, leading to more people viewing your stuff. No matter how large or small the person is, it is important to reach out, even via email if you can find it. Most of the time, emails get lost because of the volume received, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them! Ask for feedback and be assertive when asking to be booked at venues. Also, however you can get your music heard is the best way to become recognized. It takes a lot of work, but when life hands you lemons, make a lemon drop!
What is one question that you don’t think is asked nearly enough that you’d like to offer insight on?
Why is it important to interact with bloggers, especially one’s who do not have a well-known, or credible blog?
Well first, your fans get excited that you have recognized them by simply following them or responding to them via social media, then they post a screenshot all over Instagram and Facebook for their friends to see, they become interested and it circulates back to the artist. Sure, it is hard for artists with millions of fans, but for those who are starting out, or want to establish themselves, it is important to network and gain a new following, (only if you want more people to hear your music of course). Second, life is a gamble and networking is crucial to success. Because email and phone are so cluttered with promotions, junk and random messages, social media platforms have become the primary source of communication, where more simplified messages or messages via pictures are used more frequently. Of course, there are disadvantages, but more advantages. The internet is an interesting world and it is very exciting watching how most of us basically live our lives and support ourselves through it. Finally, bloggers, credible or not, are creative people for the most part. If someone starts a blog with a specific topic and purpose, chances are they know what they are doing and aren’t just another “groupie”. Either they are students trying to work up their resume and portfolio, this is their career, or they have a genuine passion for what they are writing and want to build that credibility.
In your perfect world, where would you like to see the music industry in 5 years?
This is tricky, because the music industry is so competitive. I would love to see the music industry, specifically record labels, do a better job with their music scouting. Yes, the industry relies on money to survive. However, I feel there are so many artists, like the ones who perform at festivals such as Coachella and Bonaroo. It seems like the music industry is more targeted towards the younger crowd of “Beliebers”, and don’t focus much on talented artists like, The Temper Trap, Holy Ghost!, Darkside, etc. I would like to see the music industry use more of their skill and effort in discovering new music.
Also, in my perfect world I would want the music industry to take over the world. Everything would be so much better.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Like Winston Churchill once wrote, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”