Thursday, July 24, 2008

Company Blog Checkup: Sub Pop!

If you haven't heard of the independent music label Sub Pop!, you have assuredly heard of some of the artists that they've worked with. Bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Mudhoney. And thanks to the magical AmberCadabra, I have discovered that the label also has a blog. Let's see what it looks like.

First, it's almost as if the label has two blogs. First at the main site you have 'news' posts that are positioned as a blog with comments. These are truncated, which I am not a fan of. Then from the main site, you can click through to the label's actual blog. This is a bit confusing, and I would like to see the label merge these two sections together.

The content does a decent job of letting us learn more about the artists, and has a few 'interview' type posts. I like these, but I think the readers would respond better to more 'behind the scenes' info. Instead of posting about the new MudHoney release, why not give us pictures and info on what it's like to be backstage at a MudHoney performance? Tell us what happens during a soundcheck, and what a 'Day in the Life' of a rockstar is REALLY like! This is the type of content that's unique, and would get readers excited and talking about the blog. Additionally, this type of content gives us a deeper connection with these artists, and makes it more likely that we will become fans of their work (which results in us buying more of their stuff).

Now let's move to the comments. Most of the blog's posts have comments, and some have over 5. This is good for a company blog, but it could be argued that given the focus of the blog, that readers would be more likely to comment. I am a bit concerned about many of the posts not having replies from the bloggers. You shouldn't reply to every comment, but if a post garners 5 comments, then it's only courtesy for the blogger to stick their head in and leave a quick 'thanks guys!', if nothing else. I did see a few comments from the writers, but if they were a bit more proactive about responding to comments, I would expect to see the blog average around 5 comments a post. Which is pretty good.

Now let's take a look at the blog's posting schedule. While the main 'news' stories are updated very frequently on the main page, the blog itself is only averaging about one post a week. Again, if the 'news' site and blog were merged, the posting frequency would be much better.

Finally, let's move to the sidebars. Sub Pop! has gone with a 3-column format for its blog, giving it two sidebars, and even a very thin 3rd sidebar on the left. I love this, but the problem is that all these sidebars have resulted in a very thin posting area. If Sub Pop! could extend the width of the posting area by about an inch, it would look perfect, IMO. This should be a fairly easy coding tweak.

The sidebars do a good job of giving you any possible information you would need to know about upcoming tours, releases, or if you want to buy merchandise or even MP3s. The promotional aspect is nailed. But my pet peeve rears its ugly head again; I see no pictures of the bloggers, and no links to their bios. Also, the downside to having all that space on the sidebars, is you have all that space. Which makes me wonder why with all that cyber-real estate available, the blog doesn't have a blogroll? Now I will be the first to admit that I'm not a frequent reader of music blogs but why not add links to Stereo Gum, Pitchfork and HypeBot to the blog at least? By linking to other blogs/sites, all you do is provide more value for your readers, and increase the likelihood that those sites will link BACK to yours.

Overall, I think this is a very 'safe' blog. It's not a terrible blog, but the entire layout from the content to the sidebars is waaaaay too heavy on self-promotion for my tastes. I think if the content was changed to reflect a more 'behind the scenes' look into 'what it's REALLY like to be a rockstar', that the blog would look and feel 100X better. Now having said that, I do appreciate the fact that Sub Pop! even has a blog, as far too much labels are unwilling/scared to death to interact with their artists' fans. So I give them props for the effort, but think it definitely needs some refining in the above mentioned areas.

Without further adieu, let's get to the scoring:

Content: 24 (Out of a possible 35) - Decent, but I think a little less self-promotion and more content that gives us a better connection with the artists themselves, as well as a more 'behind the scenes' look at the music industry overall, would make a big difference.

Comments: 25 (Out of a possible 35) - I like that the blog is getting comments, but I'd like to see the writers be a bit more proactive about replying to existing comments.

Posting Schedule: 5 (Out of a possible 15) - Right at one a week. Adding some of the news entries to the blog would get the posting frequency up to a decent level.

Sidebars: 8 (Out of a possible 15) - Not having pics/bios for the bloggers docks this score 5 points, and another couple for not having a blogroll.

Total Score: 62 (Out of a possible 100)

(Edit, as John R Hopkins points out on Plurk, the first URL I gave was to their 'news' site, which is formatted exactly like a blog and allows comments. Its posts are truncated and you can view them here. I've edited the post to reflect the actual blog, and not the 'news' site)

If anyone from Sub Pop! wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your company would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services.

Next week I'll profile another blogging company, and if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me! For a list of all the blog that have been profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, click here.


Amber said...

Mack, Thanks for the shout..but you're the hero here! These are such great, detailed rundowns of how companies that blog can improve upon what they're doing. Everyone can learn a ton just by reading your checkups! Keep 'em coming, please!

redpetre said...

Finally, let's move to the sidebars