The Shape of Heavy Blog to Come

Here’s a little industry secret that other sites probably are a bit loathe to talk about — the blog is dying. We don’t mean just this blog in particular, but the blog as a tool of Internet media. Remember all of those think pieces and sky-is-falling proclamations about the state of the newspaper and digital news 5-10 years ago and even more recently? Yeah, that’s basically where the blog is right now. Technology and information in the Internet age evolves so quickly that one of the foundational bedrocks of the Internet and one of the original “disrupters” of the old system now seems almost as dated and quaint. Like the gleeful old man in headphones in the clearly-watermarked image above, blogs, and particularly more niche music and entertainment blogs like this one, are old and rapidly hurtling towards the end of relevance and life itself.

The reasons for these are many but let’s enumerate a few so we’ve done our editorial duties: people rarely click out of Facebook anymore. It’s never been easier to receive news on your favorite bands straight from the source as more and more of them use and rely on Facebook and other social media to interact with fans. Elsewhere, that dreaded word — clickbait — reigns supreme and the average length of posts that are actually read on the Internet usually ranges from 50-100 words. And Facebook has embraced and accelerated this clickbait-driven system by making sure you’re more likely to see such easily digestible and shareable posts and articles in your feed over other types of content. The result is that Facebook is, for better or worse, in the news business itself. A recent study showed that 88% of Millennials use Facebook to get news. It may not be their only source, but the message is clear: social media has filled in the role of Internet content portal and curator, leaving outside sources of news fighting dual battles to keep an ever-shrinking audience dedicated to them and creating/tailoring more content to be “social friendly,” which, let’s face it, is really just clickbait by another name.

Fully 76 percent of these Facebook Millennials cite seeing what their friends are talking about and what’s happening in their friends’ lives, as a main reason they turn to Facebook. A clear majority (58 percent) cite using Facebook to find things that entertain them, such as funny lists, articles, or videos.

American Press Institute

Now, as salty as these last few lines might seem, we’ve grown into acceptance; we get it, really. The Internet moves fast and things which are redundant, are quickly cast to the side of the road to die horribly, with only the corpse of former, fallen brethren at their side (coughMySpacecough). An effort to resist these trends is moot at best and pathetic at worst: SEO, post sponsoring, clickbaiting, hate-posting. We’d rather die than become something like that (perhaps unsurprisingly, our best day in well over a year was this past April Fools Day, in which we posted nothing but clickbaitlike satire).

Here’s the thing though: we love the blog. This time, we’re talking both about blogs in general and this specific blog, Heavy Blog is Heavy. Ever since Jimmy hit launch, it’s been a home for so many people, dozens of them. It’s much more than just a place to write, even though that takes up a big part of it: having a stage for your thoughts and ideas on music is great. However, it’s also a family. The near one, the staff and contributors, are some of the closest people in our lives. Don’t believe us? Our Facebook groups have hundreds of posts per month in them and some range from the deeply personal to the insanely irrelevant. Just like family. Our extended family is also important: that’s all of you guys, the readers. Having you in our lives has made them much, much better. The contacts and friends we’ve all made as a result of simply putting some of our thoughts about the music we listen to on a screen have been invaluable, and the experience has been near indescribable.

Yes, we even love this guy. ESPECIALLY this guy.

Yes, we even love this guy. ESPECIALLY this guy.

Let’s face it though: this blog takes a lot of work. Even after expanding our editorial staff and adding more writers, we find ourselves scrambling to keep up. More than that, let’s even be more honest: very few of you read this blog for our news coverage. There are much more up to date, approachable and instant websites out there, websites that conform with the above model of the Internet. And that’s great: having access to fast, reliable news is a great thing. Combine all the facts mentioned above with dropping traffic and hit numbers (not to mention ad revenue, which we need just to keep the lights on here) and you have our conundrum: we want to keep this blog but it saps a lot of our energy, to ever less effective results. So, what do we do? Close up shop? Abandon our family, both close and extended? Go silent and leave the stage to those who dabble in clickbait?

Hell. No. Instead, we’ve reached inside our organization and asked a key question: why do we people read Heavy Blog? The answer presented itself pretty quickly: you guys have actually provided it to us on numerous occasions but we were too dense to listen. People come here for the music; to discover new and interesting music from the people who love them. Readers come to the blog because we don’t write about anything; we write about what we love. And that’s music and lots of it, from many different styles, genres and communities. It’s time to cut past “the fat” of daily news. It’s time to get back to the basics, strip down this blog of anything non-essential.

What remains behind? As we said, music and lots of it. Let’s get to the bone of it: Heavy Blog is Heavy will, from this week onwards, no longer cover news. Sure, if something hot drops or an amazing event occurs, we’ll cover it as breaking news (the press still has a stop button). And we may still post about current events in the industry and about news-like items, though the emphasis will be less on the news itself and more on context, analysis, and our personal takes on it. But we will be generally moving away from that and focusing on our features: reviews, interviews, For Fans Of, Post Rock Post, Best Of Listens, Hey! Listen to This and many new and exciting formats we’ve been conjuring up. We’re going back to being what we always, essentially, were: a group of people who are incredibly enthusiastic about metal and its surrounding genres and want to tell you all about them.

Shutterstock couple browsing devices

HE comes for our well-reasoned reviews and to find new bands, while SHE comes for our in-depth analysis, interviews, and features about her favorite artists.

As long as we’re being frank, let’s keep this going: we will be posting a lot less, today being an exception since we’ve had some time to prepare for this. Not being bound to daily schedules anymore, we will post our features when they’re ready. The definition of what “ready” means is at the core of a lot of this. We want to deliver to you content of the quality which you, one of the most intelligent and loyal readership out there, deserve. This means longer to work on our banners, longer to edit our words, longer to gather the most comprehensive and on-point content we can find. It means less posts by Heavy Blog but better posts when they do happen. It’s important to us that you understand: we’re not doing this for clicks or Facebook reach. On the contrary, these are likely to drop even further as we start posting less.

We’re doing this for you and for us. We’re doing this so we can go back to being a unique place; a place filled with the one purpose which brings us all here. We believe that with this refocusing, we can boost this blog to new heights of passion, accuracy and dedication to the metal scene and music in general. In the face of those who would dilute the message by turning to marketing tricks, of those who would dumb down discussion to numbers on the screen, we shake our heads. We shake our heads and turn back to our headphones and speakers, looking for a path to your ears, minds and hearts. We hope you’ll join us. We love you all fiercely.

Thanks, from the entire Heavy Blog is Heavy Family.

-EK+NC