For the past six months or so I've been wrestling with the fact that either I have to change, or this site does.BlackPlastic.co.uk started out as a hobby and an outlet for my views on music. Despite the modest size of the site in terms of visitors I find that over the past few years it has taken an ever larger amount of my time to manage. For those that don't know me personally this is just a side project - I have a separate full time job and run the site in what little spare time I have. And to be clear, BlackPlastic.co.uk makes almost no revenue, and is as such a loss leader (the annual hosting costs more than affiliate links have made in six years or so, not that I am complaining, or counting).
In other words, I only do this for the joy of finding, sharing and writing about music. Yet of late, I feel like it's killing what I like about music completely. I receive something like 30 emails a day from bands, labels and PR companies and to date have always tried to at least give the contents a listen. Some of what I receive is good, but quite a lot isn't... And the result is a massive burden in terms of time and a lot of what I listen to ends up dictated by external parties, which isn't fun for me and isn't necessarily great for readers.
Earlier this week I seriously considered just shutting the site down. I still plan on an extended leave of absence from mid-November, probably for a month or so to cleanse my pallet, but instead of shutting the site I'm going to try and change the way it works.
This will broadly mean two things:
- The smaller change is that I want to most more short-form content, just sharing what I'm enjoying but not always critiquing or describing it. I've always been keen to be a blog that actually writes rather than just posting videos without any comment. That isn't going to change, but there just might be some more Soundcloud, YouTube and Spotify posts amongst the longer content. I've been dialling up this component for 12 months or so anyway but expect more short-form, and a bit less long-form. I hope this makes the blog easier to consume, more timely and more varied.
- The bigger change - I'm no longer going to listen to everything (or even most) or what I get sent by email or through the site's contact form. I simply can't keep it up - it is slowly grinding me down and killing my passion for music. For a long time I've refused to respond to confirm non-coverage, those emails I receive, listen to and then decide not to feature (about 98%), just confirming when I do like something. But I'm now going a (big) step forward. I'm only clicking those links and listening to those samples when I fancy it.
Those two changes should enable me to better focus on the music I really care about and less on the music that just has PR muscle behind it. I hope it will make the site better for readers and less of a chore for me.
I'll try and communicate this change to anybody that regularly contacts me now, but I wanted to post it here publicly and give some insight into how things have worked in the past. If you currently send me music and this makes you want to stop, then I'm sorry and understand, but okay - do what you need to. If you were going to send me a message through the contact form just be aware that I will read it, but may well ignore requests to listen to links now... I never did before. I'm sorry that it has come to this, but something has to give.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to do so. Comments are welcome on this list or feel free to send me a message.