I began AwkwardSound in the summer of 2010 inside my studio apartment during a short stint of unemployment. I'm not the type of person who does well with too much time on his hands, and with the economy being in the gutter, I decided to do the proactive thing and create my own "job" -- except this one would involve one of my favorite hobbies, music. The goal of AwkwardSound was pretty simple: I wanted to create a music blog my friends could check out for recommendations on new sounds they were too busy to discover on their own, as well as be that person who wrote more than two sentences about a song, band or album in light of a shift in priorities on my favorite sites where traffic revenue meant pushing content, and pushing content meant rushing music out without saying much about it. Of course, there was the allure of discovery as well, and at the very least, I could eventually list AwkwardSound on my résumé to promote applying my skills within my outside interests.
During my first year writing AwkwardSound, it was a very humble operation. I wrote song and album reviews, posted them on my personal facebook page and was happy if a dozen of my friends bothered to read along. When I moved back home to once again be employed only to be met by a dead social life, I still had far too much time on my hands. With those hours in the evenings and weekends, I began to mix my background in online marketing into AwkwardSound by going public with the blog, creating its own facebook page, Twitter account and getting verified with the HypeMachine. Coverage expanded to profiling rising buzz bands, new song streams without the in-depth review slant, videos and feature stories. I began analyzing traffic as a challenge to improve AS' visibility, and it wasn't until I noticed a spike one day thanks to pieces on Cult of Youth and Marina Minerva being plugged by the respective artists that I realized I was getting somewhere with my little DIY music blog being written out of my parents' basement. Three years later, and it still amazes me to this day when an artist, a label, a professional music writer or a publicist acknowledges the words that I've written here by sharing it with their followers just as they would a story on sites like Pitchfork or Stereogum.
While I've been lucky to build a small, but loyal network of readers as well as connections to the musicians and labels themselves whom I am thrilled to cover, the larger AwkwardSound has grown, the more arduous writing the site has become. On top of increasing content without sacrificing the effort behind it, there's a vicious cycle to it all: Grow your brand by covering new music that the larger sites are ignoring. Gain the endorsements of rising artists through your thoughtful writing. Eventually, the larger sites finally catch on to the trends after you've been talking them up for a year. Those bands stop acknowledging your posts in favor of supporting articles on larger web sites that guarantee them a bigger audience. The bands and larger web sites all win out, run off into the sunset holding hands, all the while you're back at square one looking for music to cover that hasn't been talked about to death by the time you come home from work.
Add to that, for every genuinely supportive member of the music industry you encounter with your efforts, there are far too many mean-spirited members of it who want nothing more than to tear your hard work down. The professional indie music writing world for example is more or less the equivalent of high school, in that they are the popular kids arrogantly controlling the territory and all too eager to dismiss any DIY writer who does in their free time what they consider a "career." Too many times have I come home after a bad day at the office already stressing, only to find an e-mail or series of tweets from some big music site scribe who chose to become a journalist after dropping out of law school criticizing the way I operate or denouncing the value of my posts, even though they are written with as much insight and purpose as theirs. Congrats, dude. You won the Internet for the day in 140 characters or less. My perspective of the industry has understandably become a negative one to the point where I'd much rather not get to know the people behind the music I write about or the writers behind the reviews I read elsewhere, because as the cliché goes, "Never meet your heroes." It's not to say I've ever held anyone within this realm on such a pedestal, but admittedly, it's begun to make me "hate" music because I can no longer listen to it without the negative experiences over baffling Twitter beefs or catty e-mails muddy my bias.
You probably have figured out by now that this is my goodbye post. I am proud of the 1,258 stories that I have written since June 1, 2010 in this space, and humbled for being given the opportunity to tell you about the music I loved rather than seeing it effortlessly slapped onto the Internet. The truth is, you don't need AwkwardSound. There are thousands of other sites just like this all over the endless web vying for your attention, wanting to be the "first" to tell you about your new favorite band and in all likeliness, contributing to the raging fire on social media where everyone has an opinion and you're welcome to voice yours -- just as long as it's the same as theirs. I don't know if I accomplished anything in my time as a make-shift music writer, but I do know that at the end of the day, the scores under the reviews, the by-lines that accompany them, the names of the sites you follow on Twitter, what's being said in the latest controversial "think piece" alongside arguments over who or what is and isn't punk -- It's all just white noise on the Internet trying to make you fall out of love with the music itself.
From the bottom of my emo heart, thank you, take care and please be good to one another.
Michael | AwkwardSound.com