One of the best decisions I ever made, when it came to developing my own personal brand, was creating my blog MicControl.com – not only did it allow me to write about my passion (music) and my budding area of expertise (at the time I started writing, I was earning my degree in Marketing), but it allowed me to tap into a community of like-minded individuals, musicians and entrepreneurs who were also forward-thinking in their approach to being an independent musician.

Frankly, without my blog, I would have no personal brand.

Thankfully my blog lead me to connect with Ariel and has resulted in joining her team full-time almost two years ago now. So this lead’s me to the introduction of a new series that I’ll be starting here on the Cyber PR® Music blog:

Digital Media Deconstructed

The concept of this series is to interview digital media makers who are thought-leaders or trend-setters (or both!) about their own experience with creating a consistent compelling content strategy, establishing their own signature story and developing a stronger online brand.

We begin this series by deconstructing a long-time friend and supporter of Cyber PR®, JW Richard of the Groove Loves Melody blog (@GLMmag), which is a Dallas, TX based music blog focused on interviews, album reviews and their well-known ‘TuneCrush’ series, a single-centric artist spotlight series. Let’s dive right in!

When did you decide to start blogging about music?

Been blogging since 2003, and have always written about music. Now if the question is ‘when did it become mainly music’, that would be 2008. While working on another blog and podcast that presented a very specific niche (African-American LGBT lives in Dallas, TX), I created a site called Mandrake FM. When that work ended, I joined with a friend to help with his music site, Popolio.com and that went until Fall 2010. Groove Loves Melody began in November 2010. I covered a lot of artists working with Cyber PR on all those sites. (editor note: THANKS!!)

How did Groove Loves Melody start out, and how has it evolved over time?

Groove Loves Melody has always has a simple premise, and that is to bring a spotlight to well-crafted music across genres. It’s built on a theme of relationships–the relationship of words to music becoming a song as well as my relationship with that song over time. Thus, a first listen to really catchy single may be what we call a “TuneCrush”. While I am the primary writer and editor for the site, I do have content contributors based in Dallas, St. Louis, and London. While I’m based in Dallas, it never has been a “Dallas-music” blog because we want to cover great music wherever it’s made.

What made you want to become so actively involved in supporting independent music?

As a vocalist myself and having been in bands of my own, I understand the struggle of writing, performing, and marketing your music, many times while holding down a full-time day job or full-time responsibilities (relationships, children, etc.). Many artists I’ve interviewed have encouraged me to have a deeper connection to my muse and I simply want to share that encouragement with fellow musicians and help build fan support.

When you are looking for artists to feature, what qualities do you look for? What sorts of things should musicians keep in mind when reaching out to you in hopes to be featured?

Because I’m open to various genres of music, I’m open in terms of the types of artists that I’ll feature. An artist with a good bio and accessible pictures and music is always appreciated. Having the bio gives me ideas for where interviews can go. Having their music at Bandcamp and Soundcloud is nice because those sites embed easily with WordPress. It’s also appreciated when the artists share any their features from GLM with their social networks.

Starting a blog is like starting your own community or tribe. Do you interact with your community? If so, how?

When I started GLM, I wondered if stand-alone blogs even mattered anymore. Since then, I receive verification from my readers that they do, however they cannot survive without the social networks. Facebook and Twitter continue to lead in terms of social sharing from my site, however Linked In has edged ahead in sharing on any business related stories (copyright, sampling, etc.). I’m also connected to Tumblr and G+, so I connect with readers there as well. Major kudos to G+ for the Artists in the Plus community as well.

Are you a member of other online communities? Do you follow or look up to other music blogs?

Two GLM contributors maintain their own blogs and I check out their work. Enda Guinan has http://endaguinan.com/ for social news highlights and personal sharing. Rich Lopez maintains the site, http://flairgun.wordpress.com/. I’m a part of a growing community of music bloggers at Google +, so many of the blogs in that group I do read from time to time. (https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/116726857582020993845). I’ve always respected the work of Soulbounce, BamaLoveSoul, Potholes in My Blog, and Gorilla vs. Bear. I also enjoy what Bandcamp has done with their new blog and podcast.

Do you have advice for other music bloggers out there?

Keep your ears open and follow your sense of music. Don’t feel as if you have to follow after what everyone is following after. There’s too much wonderful music being made throughout the world, so cover it to the best of your ability.

Where do you see your blog in the future? Where do you see the future of blogging in general?

Whatever the next phase of Groove Loves Melody is, a blog aspect will remain a part of it. The stand-alone continues to work for me because I control the editorial and, for the most part, advertising content. As for the future, just as Twitter has its own blogging platform, I could see Facebook developing a blogging format (perhaps taking the notes option and giving it a personal page), much like Google + is infusing Blogger with its services.

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