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Bloggers are the New DJs: Interview with BreakOnACloud’s Rob Bragdon

Rob Bragdon Breakonacloud
It’s no secret. Music blogs are one of the new gatekeepers to the music industry. They’re also how both fans and DJs find new music. Remember my song “Blogworthy” ? My whole point was that we need not wait for press to find us as artists and musicians. We can simply create our own broadcast signal and become our own press by creating a blog. Lots of people really “get it.” is based here in Nashville and it’s been a huge deal locally and now both regionally and nationally as they continue to simply post about and blog about what they like. I’m so grateful to Rob Bragdon at BreakonaCloud for taking the time to do this interview.

QE: How long have you been involved with music blogging?

Rob: Started in Dec 2010. After coming back from law school, Just saw a lack of coverage in certain genres of music. There was a gap. So I met up with one of my best friends in Nashville Matt Miller, who is a great videographer. He said “I want to do something music related.” We came up with the blog idea and said “Let’s start attacking shows” in and around Nashville with interviews, recaps, whatever we could do to spread the word about shows that weren’t getting as much love as the others.

QE: OK, so the next question is like that. Why does BreakOnaCloud exist? Did you just answer that?

Rob: Yeah, that’s pretty much the summation of it. We wanted to basically show a variety of music to the people of Nashville versus going in with blinders on and showing just one scene. Granted, I do recognize that there are certain scenes in this area that probably have more momentum than others. But that doesn’t mean that all genres of music should get thrown under the bus. So regardless of what’s hot in Nashville or the United States; if it’s good music, that’s where we come in. That’s all we want to recognize and that’s what we want to put forth.

MiM0SA: Sanctuary Tour at Cannery Ballroom, Nashville (Recap Video) (Presented by MarchOne Music) from BreakonaCloud TV on Vimeo.

QE: What do you see as the music blogger’s role in the music scene / music industry?

Rob: I like to use the word… and some of us probably wouldn’t like to use the word, but I’m boastful about what I do and I’m proud of what I do because I couldn’t play a musical instrument to save my life.. so I’ve always wanted to be involved in the scene. I feel like that’s where a lot of bloggers come in. They’re people that want to be taste-makers And that’s the word that I’m talking about. You want to be able to be someone that people look to to say “Hey, that’s the good music in my area” if not the whole world. Just depends on what you’re going into to represent. But for us, we kind of wanted to do both. Understandably you get views nationwide a lot more than you would locally. But we target local shows. For that reason, that’s why we cover the bands, genres, and events that we do.

Quiet Entertainer opening for Bonobo
pictured by Brendan Donohue / me opening for Bonobo
Click to see more!

QE: It’s funny you say that. That is what I view as the role of the DJ. I was talking about the blogger being the new DJ for that same reason. Being a music taste-maker

Rob: That’s a great term, by the way. The new DJ. I’ve never heard that used before.

QE: Yea, that’s the reason I wanted to talk to you. When I moved to Nashville, I would go to see Wick-It or KDSML. And whatever they were playing was like the hot thing right then. But now it’s whatever BreakOnACloud or 2Ls or whoever is posting about. That’s the hot new thing. It’s how even a lot of DJs find their music. There are a lot of sites out there that DJs pull from because we think “Oh, this is what’s out right now; this is the fresh stuff.” So, even DJs are figuring out that the blogger is important just to find music, not so much to even get featured.

Rob: I totally agree. I’ve actually witnessed that firsthand. I was at a show recently. The opening artist happened to have his computer open. We were upstairs and I happened to glance down… I’m not a stalker or anything.. but I know certain websites… So if I see certain colors on a screen, I look at it. And I just knew it was The Music Ninja‘s website. Which is a great blog. So, this artist was getting familiar with new music via a blog right in front of me. Confirming that this is indeed what they do to find new music.

I don’t really know any other mediums than that. If you’re an artist, you don’t have a lot of time to do much more other than go to a show to hear other music. I guess fans could introduce them to it. But I think fans are more interested to getting to the show or getting in for free or building a relationship with that artist. It’s typically not about ANOTHER artist. So yea I guess blogs are the new resource. The radio is definitely not giving us what we want.

The Boom Bap Live with DJ Charlie White (Nashville) from BreakonaCloud TV on Vimeo.

QE: What are some challenges that a music blogger faces?

Rob: I think the hardest thing to deal with is managing your time and finding a way to be consistent. For me… organization and structure in your blog and in your posts whether it be timing, or a certain subject, or a certain review that needs to go out at a certain time. It could be a festival lineup because we all know when festival season is each year. There’s a lot of things that you gotta think about that you want your fans to get because as a music lover I know what information I would want to get out there. Basically the hardest part is two things. Staying on the ball with information and putting it to them consistently in a format that they can easily and quickly read. You don’t have a lot of people’s time and attention for very long. So you have to give them what they want in a paragraph or two or a statement or two. That’s one of the first thing I learned from John Gotty at the Smoking Section. He taught me that you could go crazy with it; writing an essay about a song or 20 pages about an album. We could probably do it if a professor asked us to because it’d be a cool project! But as far as getting someone else to read that, realistically no one has the time. So being able to succinctly give you the information that you want and need, that’s tough. For example, John had one of his writers do an album review on the new Daft Punk in 100 words or less. You’ve got to check that out. It is so on point for being two sentences.

QE: I definitely will. OK, shifting gears, what’s the best way for an artist/band to get posted about in a music blog?

 Rob: I’ll be honest with this answer. Relationships mean everything. That’s one thing I hate about people’s answers about how did you get this or get that. People don’t start out with that. If you know people, you can get places. So if you happen to KNOW one of our writers, it may help you. It may not help you get posted. There have been numerous posts that Kelly (Hite) has sent me saying “Hey this person sent me this. I liked it. So check it out.” Great. Well guess what. I’m at least going to check that out because Kelly mentioned versus an email that comes in. I have 20,000 emails in my inbox. So being able to differentiate yourself in about 60 characters. Basically, your subject line. That’s the tough part. Now do I go through every email? Probably not. I just don’t have time for it. So a lot of it is luck of the draw too. That’s an answer you will NOT get from people. It’s luck of the draw, relationships, and then being able to impress someone in that email via name recognition without being overly excessive, in a respectful manner. And also, putting your content out there in an organized fashion. For instance, having your artwork for each single? Mandatory. Having a soundcloud. Mandatory. You don’t have to put out each single on YouTube. If you want to, so be it. I discourage it. More blogs are functional and able to pick up your post if it’s soundcloud. There are aggregators that only see soundcloud embeds.

QE’s note: Oh, by the way. Here’s a track from my Soundcloud!

OK, now you may continue!

This is why the EDM culture has blown up so fast. They were the first ones to realize and tap into the momentum that soundcloud can offer as far as people sharing your post and then getting put on a blog. Whether it’s or, they all read Soundcloud and Bandcamp embeds. They don’t tell you that. We don’t tell you that, but those are the facts. So that’s one of the number one rules for me. Album artwork, Soundcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp links. Have your links organized to where people can get to them if they want to. Sometimes, you’ll listen to a single or see a video from an artist and then you want to hear more because all of us want to know “What else did they do? Is that it?” I think that’s the main thing; Just being able to put it in a presentable format. Hiring a publicist may be another tip in this answer. Recognition and relationships. There are publicists that you can hire that can get you farther than everyone else based on their company and relationships. If you hire them, you tap into all of their relationships. You saved yourself years and years of getting to know these bloggers because they already do. That’s the role of the publicist. Everyone who is serious about their career and has good content should have one that’s been int he game for a long time.

QE:  What are some things that you wish more bands/musicians were doing?

Rob: I’d say being interactive with fans. Whether it’s hosting a simple Ustream chat… Look at Deadmau5 and what he’s done with Ustream. He shows you his life, his apartment, his cat. You can do it that way. Reaching out to your fans on twitter. recognizing a favorite or a retweet. The ones that do it best, they thrive on it. Another thing, communicating with other artists. Basically, you’re lifting each others’ assets to a point that you couldn’t do on your own. It’s simple in theory. Each person has their own fanbase. If you support another artist, then you tap into their fanbase. It’s an exponential thing. The more artists that work together in a certain group or genre, the better off they will be as a whole. One artist may take the cake but three or more can survive if it works that way. Adventure Club? Krewella? If you ever notice their conversations, they have built each other based on their communication. Yes, they make great music but I do think that is at least a part of their success. You see this all the time in the EDM community as a whole on twitter. They talk to each other all the time. You do not see that in the rock community. You see it a little bit in the hip hop community but it’s more compartmentalized in groups and cliques. One more thing. PROMOTE YOUR SHOWS. For Christ Sake, if you’re looking at it from a promoter’s or booking agent’s perspective; these guys are the worst at it. You have to beg an artist to talk about coming into town. You have to beg an artist to share their show dates. You have to beg an artist to share ticket links. How do you expect people to come to your show who only follow you on twitter when they only have seen the show announced an hour before your show OR only saw a picture of your awesome ass show a day later. That’s something that really gets on my nerves. Promote your shows.

Killer Mike Kelly Hite Nashville Breakonacloud
Pictured by Kelly Hite: Killer Mike at Exit/In in Nashville

QE: What’s the best thing that music blogging and BreakOnaCloud has done for you?

Rob: I’d say general satisfaction. Like I told you before, I wasn’t able to play an instrument or anything like that. So just being able to contribute to a scene and be considered a taste-maker would be a pleasure to me. I don’t know if that’s happened yet; but, I hope it does and that’s my goal.

QE: If someone wanted to start their own blog? what kind of person do they need to be? and What should they do?

Rob: I’d say someone that’s completely motivated. Someone that’s not too shy to ask questions. someone that wants to be involved in a scene. someone who’s willing to make sacrifices. There are a lot of shows that you initially don’t want to go to. You end up going to them and you walk out of and you say “I feel good for going to that.” That happens to me a lot of the time. I realized that maybe I’d shut myself off to a certain person or a style of music but you learn about new people each day. That’s one of the gratifying things. Being able to support an artist.

QE: Anything else you want the world to know about you and BreakOnACloud?

Rob: It’s not a one man job. This has been a team and collaborative effort since I started this whole thing. As far as guidance, and actual contributions. Everything. Someone like John Gotty has helped me with advice. Every person that I’ve met in the music business has helped me with advice. And I could name venue owners, promoters, whatever. They’ve all come to me to say “hey you could be doing this.” Not to make money off me, but just simple advice. I appreciate that more than anything. But my team, I have to give it up for them.

Kelly Hite, Rob Bragdon, Brendan Donohue, and Matt Miller Breakonacloud
From L to R: Kelly Hite, Rob Bragdon, Brendan Donohue, & Matt Miller

Kelly Hite, Number 1. That girl is a photographer but she’s also an activist for good music. She is one in a million. For a girl like that to be involved in our team is such a blessing. Same goes for Brendan Donohue, Pureform Media. Unbelievable Character. Unbelievable videographer. Always there since day one. Then Matt Miller, who started the website and has since moved to Los Angeles and now doing bigger and better things for a record label that I can’t mention right now. But you’ll hear about what he’s doing soon. I love them all and BreakOnACloud would not be the same without them.

QE: What are your future plans for BreakOnaCloud?

Rob: My goal is simply to be able tap into the entirety of Nashville and then some. If I could wrap up the entire Middle Tennessee area and have all the music lovers lovingly and with care go to our site because we have information, then I’ve succeeded. That’s my goal. From an artist’s perspective, I want them to be able to say “they made a difference in my career.” I don’t mean life-changing experiences, but If 5 people post your album instead of one, that’s a big difference. I’d love for that to happen.

Thanks so much to Rob for the interview. You can visit and also you can follow him on Twitter.

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