Three Months and Running…

I couldn’t be prouder of how the site has gone so far.  14,000 hits so far and counting since December 1st.  We’re getting up to about 400 hits a day now – I really couldn’t see this level of success even a month ago.

First, I have to thank everyone who’s contributed to the site so far because I couldn’t do it without them.  They give the site the balance, versatility and additional voices it needs to be readable and to succeed at the next level.  They’ve been especially helpful in the last few weeks when I haven’t had a chance to post as often as I initially did.

Unfortunately, as great as the site has been, I find myself continually pondering its future and my future in writing.

I’ve been lucky enough to be an unemployed student in the last three months, where I have all of the free time in the world to study, write for this site and DJ.  Unfortunately, I’ll be employed hopefully sooner than later and won’t have the time to contribute to this site that I once did.  I had a vision originally that I could sneak in posts for this site during work or on my lunch break or before/after work, but I don’t know what the reality of that will be once I’m employed.  I know that even after I’m employed, I’ll still have to take classes and study for tests in my spare time.

I love writing though, and I think it’ll keep me sharp especially when I’m doing something as left-brained as actuarial work.  I really do want to keep this website up in some capacity when I start working, but I have to figure out what the ultimate goal of the site should be and at what capacity I can actually contribute to it.  Here are a few options:

1)  Use the site primarily as an advertising tool for my DJing.

In this case, I’d probably post on the site fairly scarcely, and really only update to post new mixes, songs I like (enough to be on mixes), and places/dates where I’m playing.  The drawback to this is that it would effectively stop serving its current purpose and general readership of the site might plummet.

2)  Keep the site the way it is, but add on additional writers and keep myself at a minor role.

In this case, I’d probably use this as an advertising tool, but try to get a full cast of writers to volunteer for the site and then contribute weekly or something along those lines.  The drawback to this is that it would be hard to recruit a full roster of writers who would volunteer to contribute to this site full-time, and it would essentially become “my site” in name only.

3)  Focus the site more on writing than music-posting.

This is an option I’ve been pondering lately.  My personal favorite part of contributing to this site is being able to do longer posts (like the single reviews); to me they’re the most fun to write and the most intrinsically rewarding.  In this scenario, I would focus the site more on short essays and ramblings about music but also sports and anything in pop culture or politics.  In this option I’d definitely have to recruit more people to write for the site.  The downside of this option is that it takes away much of the appeal of the site (let’s face it:  free music) and that it would be much harder to gain readership solely through writing.  It’s obviously possible, it’s the nature of blogging, but I feel like I’ve been spoiled with this site’s success, especially when I know I can attribute most of it to the abundance of music to download.

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These are all just possibilities at this point.  The first goal for me is to get a job so that I can have actual capital to put into this so that I can give the site its own domain and give it some of the features it’s sorely needed.  Once I can physically update the site, I can then really make the decision of where I want the site to go in terms of its design and ultimate purpose.

Until then, I’m gonna keep it simple and keep writing.  Hope y’all have enjoyed the current site and these behind the scenes updates so far.

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Why am I still on WordPress.com?

I don’t know if you take this blog less seriously because it’s hosted on WordPress.com.  I probably would.  Which makes me very happy to see the site doing as well as it is.

The site is still on WordPress.com for financial reasons – simple as that.  I’m unemployed at the moment and there’s no reason for me to spend for hosting on the site (plus bandwidth plus whatever else) for the next few months when I can simply do in the future and achieve the same results.  The site isn’t time sensitive, if you will.

In the meantime, it lets me experiment with the site – try different writing styles, different themes, series, writers, genres of music, etc…. and see what’s most successful.  Better I make an ass in front of 50 people than 5000.

But when the time comes, this will be a full website, best believe that.  I spend (too much) time looking at plugins and features and design and such that can let this be all it can be…when the time comes.

Just wanted to let y’all know that this won’t be whiiite.wordpress.com forever.

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How do I find music to post?

This may seem like a fairly incongruous question considering that I want to create a top-shelf music blog, but after doing several dozen music posts, finding new music to post up isn’t as easy as it initially seems.  I want to do fun, creative posts and try to post up different types of music, but at the same time I want to create a niche and not stray from it.  If people came here to get new Afrojack songs, wouldn’t ten straight posts of avant-garde jazz turn them off?

Anyways, hope y’all are enjoying the blog.  We’re in the process of getting a few new writers, so hopefully we can keep giving you quality music written by passionate writers with distinct voices.  Trying to dabble in different types of music but stay true to the genres we’re most well-versed in and blooming as a daily source of music for college students and people with similar musical affinities.

Here are some of the places I find music to post:

1)  Hype Machine – The famous aggregate of music blogs.  I feel a little cheap sometimes using it to find music to post here because it makes my content somewhat unoriginal, but at the same time I think it’s important to keep up with what people are listening to.  I check their Top 20 songs every few days and sometimes creep on what my friends are listening to.  I don’t “love” songs as much as I used to, but I add songs from time to time.  My username is extrasillytimes – follow me!

2)  Blogs – Some of my favorites that I’ve mentioned before on the site:

2DopeBoyz / Nahright – The ultimate directories for new hip-hop music.  I used to go on these all the time, but I only check them out sporadically now.  Shoutout to Nah Right founder and Yonkers brethren Eskay.

Salacious Sound – Electronic/dance music.  They have awesome “best of the month” entries on the 1st of every month that have 20 or so songs worth checking out.

Dancing Astronaut – Like a 2DopeBoyz of house music, the directory I go to for house/trance/whatever dance music.

White Folks Get Crunk – A great site for DJs – they have the best remixes/mashups/etc….

This Song is Sick – I’ve made fun of them before, but despite the hilariously-written writeups, they consistently post good party music (hip-hop, dubstep, electro-house, mashups, etc…).  Even though dividing music up into “bangin” and “chill” seems dumb at the surface, it’s a brilliantly intuitive and simple way to categorize the music.  I could hate all day, but he has 100x the readership I do so who’s laughing?

Blah Blah Science / The Chuckness – Two websites similar to mine in that they both post music from various genres.

3)  Okayplayer Boards – The message boards for The Roots’ Okayplayer site are the funniest and most informative on the internet for music, movies and sports.  Musically, the boards are slanted most towards hip-hop and R&B, but you can get several good opinions about virtually any genre of music on there, as well as links to insightful articles and generally original (and outlandish) statements and ideas concerning music.

4)  Pitchfork Media – Love ’em or hate ’em, they have the best mass music magazine today, with five new album reviews every weekday, featured songs on their playlist, and daily news updates.  Their best-of-decades articles are great ways to get into older music you can’t hear on the radio.

5)  Itunes – I know it’s a rat race to post the newest, hottest songs every day, but there’s always so much music that we already have that goes ignored.  I’m going to keep trying to make an effort to post quality throwback music.

6)  Youtube – Such an underrated way to find music.  If there’s an artist you’ve heard about, just search their name on Youtube and you’ll probably find a song of theirs with a million hits, along with everything else they’ve ever released.  A great way to see what’s popular outside the blog community as well as find similar artists.

7)  Pandora / Internet Radio / Radio / Podcasts – I don’t really listen to any of these, but I might start if I get desperate for new music to post or just want something to completely hit me out of left field.  I usually like being able to control the music I’m listening to – I suppose I’m old-fashioned in that sense.  Still, I bet there are a ton of dope podcasts out there I’m willfully ignoring.  Until then, stay tuned for the official That Whiiite podcast coming soon!

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How do I make my blog stand out?

I knew going into this venture that music blogs rank up there somewhere with cooking magazines and porn websites in terms of market saturation.  Sometimes I feel like there are more music blogs than people reading them, especially music blogs marketed to college kids.  Every time a new Deadmau5 or Kanye West track comes out, it’s a certainty that hundreds of blogs will have an “exclusive” leak of the track and while I like both of those artists, I feel a little guilty posting up music by them because I know that a given reader will have read about and heard that song many times before.  It puts me in a bind because I know that this is the case with much of the music my target audience enjoys.  While I want to post original music that can’t be found in many other places, I know I have to retain my viewers with familiar names.

The best way for my blog to be successful is for it to stand out as a brand.  2Dopeboyz and Nah Right are the blogs for new hip-hop.  Dancing Astronaut is the blog for new electronic music.  The Chuckness is a blog of all genres geared towards college students.

Obviously That Whiiite is closest to the latter.  The only other way I can sell my blog as a brand is to promote it as my “DJ blog”, and while I want to post some DJ mixes, I don’t feel that I’m at the point as a DJ where I can really 1) be taken seriously as a professional and 2) stand out from the thousands of other DJs on the internet.

For now, here are some ways I’m trying to make my blog stand out:

1)  An assortment of writers with personalities.  I think as we all continue to post and get comfortable writing, we can all carve out our online personalities to the point where our behavior as writers will become somewhat predictable – for example, if Sal shits on a shitty trance track, readers can chalk that up to “Sal being Sal.”  I want to continue to recruit writers so that I can cover more genres thoroughly, but also so that there are several voices on the site.  As much as I love my dry remarks, I want them to be the trademark of me as a writer rather than the website as a whole.

2)  Memorable categories and traditions on the site.  The DJ mixes are one thing, but I also want to have different regular features that will draw people back to the site.  Right now, I personally have Thirsty Thursday, which will usually be high-energy house and hip-hop tracks and the self-explanatory Tracks of the Week every Sunday.  Adam had a Samplepedia post that I thought was awesome; I really hope he continues it.  I want to make a few more features that people will enjoy that we post weekly or every two weeks.  Salacious Sound has a few really cool ones.

3)  Funny/memorable writing.  So many blogs are simply lists of music – I want to be more than that.  I want readers to come to my website and know that they’ll get good quality music and a funny and/or thought-provoking analysis of the music.  I’ve been guilty of being a little terse sometimes with my posts.  If we’re posting music that hundreds of blogs are also posting, I want our post to stand out because of the writing in it because that’s the only variable.

4)  Post music other people aren’t posting.  Yes, I do check other blogs and Hype Machine for music.  But I also want to post music from left-field sometimes that doesn’t necessarily fall into the regular genres, which is part of the reason I’m happy I have other writers who aren’t as “blog conscious” as I am.

5)  Post great DJ mixes! I’m always really hesitant to post anything I mix together because I only started mixing recently, but I want to try to post a mix every once in a while 1) to give y’all something different and truly “exclusive” and 2) to promote myself (whoops).  The ones I’ve posted so far are OK, but I want to be much better in six months from now and much better than that in a year from now.

What’s next up?  I want to do a month’s review of That Whiiite in the beginning of January and talk about my expectations going in, the results that came out, and my expectations for the next month.  I also want to do a post soon discussing 1) the decision of what type of music to post and 2) the process of finding music on the internet.  Keep reading!

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The Purpose of That Whiiite

I was actually inspired to make That Whiiiite after seeing The Chuckness. While most of the music blogs I was used to posted dozens of songs per day in an attempt to completely cover a genre, here was an unpretentious blog geared towards college students.  After following it for a few weeks, I liked the idea so much that I decided to give it a shot for myself.

Here are my current “rules” for the site:

1)  Don’t make posts for the sake of making them.  Quality over quantity.  Only post a song if I really like the song and I think it will resonate with people.  If there’s a song out that’s the “newest, hottest shit” but I’m not that fond of it, make a review of the song and say so!  Otherwise, avoid it and let the 10,000 other blogs cover it.  I want people to come to this website because of the consistently good music and the passion the writers put into their posts.

2)  Recruit others as passionate about music as I am. It’s too hectic to do this solo dolo.  People love music and are willing to volunteer to write about music they’re passionate about.  People can help you cover genres you’re not familiar with.  People can make posts on days you’re busy so the website stays active.

3) Make the website well-organized and easy to get around. I think at this point the website is well-organized, but it is unfortunately limited to “get around” because of the limits of the free WordPress design.  One of the things I will be most proud of when they are fully fleshed out are the different categories we have (Samplepedia, Thirsty Thursdays, Sample of the Week, etc…), but unfortunately, as a reader you don’t know they exist unless 1) you religiously check the site or 2) you happen to see them as small categories on the right side of the page.  This is one thing I want to fix when I move to a new domain.

4)  Stay focused on new music, but feel free to embrace older songs.  The age-old question of passion vs. relevancy plays in here.  I want this blog to read like a blog I would go to, and I honestly wouldn’t visit a blog if it didn’t have a lot of new music on it.  If a blog was very very expert in a certain niche, then perhaps I would visit it, but I don’t think I have the expertise to make a blog like that consistently interesting.

5)  Don’t act like I’m a prime authority on music. I’m 22 years old.  I do listen to music all the time.  But I’m still learning, especially in a lot of genres outside of hip-hop.  I want to give you music I enjoy, but don’t want to act like I’m better than someone who’s visiting my website.  I want to be honest about artists I’m posting about – if I’m listening to them for the first time, I want to say so.

6)  Post good quality audio. This one’s self-explanatory.  If people can get better quality audio of the songs I’m posting at other websites, they’ll go to the other websites.

The next subject I want to cover:  How do I make my blog stand out among the saturated market of college music blogs?  What brings people to my site, and brings them back once I get there?

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The Purpose of This Blog

What’s up guys,

This is Evan, creator of and contributor to That Whiiite, the music blog that probably brought you here.  The purpose of this blog is to be a public journal tracking that website’s development.  As I add new features to the website and try new experiments, I want to talk about my intended goals and track my successes and failures here.  I want to make the best website I possibly can, and I believe that by making the progress of the website public, I can hold myself more accountable to do so.

If you have any ideas about the website, please feel free to comment at any time here, and I will respond as promptly as possible.

Please note: While this website may become a prototype in creating a music blog in the future, That Whiiite is still in its infancy and should in no way be considered a successful music blog until it gets consistent views.  While I may try experiments or share my thoughts on creating blogs/websites, nothing should be taken as advice until it is proven to work!  Jay favorite line, dog in due time.

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