Sunday 24 July 2016

The Metaphorical Boat is 5 years old

So here we have it, five whole years of running The Metaphorical Boat. Where has the time gone? (No really, where has the time gone? Can any physicists help me with that conundrum?). When I first registered the name on Blogger just so I could write some half-formed thoughts about a band I heard in a bar in Nashville, I had no idea that it would still still be going strong after such a length of time, but here we are.

The five years of running TMB has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and it has led to some great opportunities. I've got to write for some of my favourite publications, including getting to write gig reviews for the website for one of my favourite radio show, Across The Line (although admittedly, looking back at some of my reviews from their archive, there's a few things I might have changed if I were reviewing them today. The 3th paragraph of this one, for example).

I've also had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people who had first come across me as a result of this blog, and whom I would never had had the opportunity to meet if I had just kept my opinions about music to myself. And of course, there is so much fantastic, enriching music that I would not have come across unless this blog existed, and so to every maker of music, whether you're signed to the biggest record label in the world or are self-sufficient, whether you're making music solely for money or solely for the heck of it, you have my most sincere gratitude.

Music blogging has changed a bit since I started 5 years ago. The amount of music blogs appears to have steadily decreased in that time - The Hype Machine is currently tracking 701 music blogs (including yours truly), which is down by a few hundred since 2011, and it seems as if people are more likely to turn to music recommendation services like Spotify for new music than they are a music blog. However, that doesn't mean that the two services cannot happily coexist.

Up until the end of the year I was a bit of a Spotify sceptic, only really using it if there's a song I can't hear anywhere else. However, since then I've been won over by their Discover Weekly feature (which recommends songs to you based on what you listen to), and as a result I'm listening to a lot more new music than I had previously, which as a result has filtered into me writing about more music on the blog. It's also helped to introduce me to music that I otherwise would have immediate dismissed. I didn't realise that I enjoyed Tuareg music, but then along comes a band like Imarhan on my playlist and I'm immediately hooked -

And Spotify recommendation playlists end up relying on blogs too. I've had a few cases where someone has come across a song on Spotify, loved it, then visited TMB to learn more about the artist and get some more context into them. And there's evidence that if a song is getting a buzz on blogs, then Spotify are more likely to favorably add the song to one of their highly influential, lucrative playlists, even if the band is unsigned. So there's still room for music blogs, even if the focus appears to have shifted slightly.

So here's to the first 5 years of The Metaphorical Boat. Hopefully there'll be several more to come, even if we've slowed things down a bit for the last wee while. Thanks to every one of you who has ever taken the time to read any of our thoughts on the blog, and thanks to all you wonderful makers of fine music, without whom we would never have got past day 1. To see us out, here is what is possibly our favourite song of 2016 so far, "Auld Wives" by Bear's Den, a song that mixes folk music with 80s synth-pop so majestically -

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