EOTY Lists And You

So this is a weird one – and on a topic that has a lot more influence than I thin that any of us care to admit, and that’s year end lists and our relationship to them as listeners, fans and bands. This is one of my favorite times of year for music because not only do I get exposed to all of the good stuff that I have missed over the year but also with the slow down in the industry there is plenty of time to dig in to everyone’s lists and get a chance to understand what they have been digging. Year end lists contain a degree of honesty and self reflection that I don’t think goes into your traditional review, and that’s a really interesting concept to me. There’s so much sucking up in music journalism, and this is a respite from that. Suffice it to say – this puts us in a deeply strange spot for everyone’s listening habits whilst simultaneously putting us in a position where we are reading some of the most important content of the year.

This is an interesting period because people are no longer creating content based on what labels or publicists might want but are creating content genuinely based off of what they are into. That being said – there is also a pretty deep sense of trying to look cool and making sure that your list has all of the hip bands. For many of my friends they won’t read any of the hundreds of reviews that I might have written over the course of a year, but they will read my year end list. I don’t want those people to think that I am a nerd with bad taste, they already know that. Simultaneously, because this is the only piece of my content that many of my friends might read (Which is totally fine by the way, absolutely get it) I want to make sure that the young bands who I really jock are getting the coverage and love that I think they deserve. Think about the amount of pressure that ends up putting on the year end article.

Year end lists also hold a lot of value because I think that, for a lot of people, this is a matter of historical record. I for one want to be able to look back at my year end lists twenty years from now and be able to say “Oh, that’s what I was listening too in 201X.” I really enjoy having the ability to dig back into the musical musings of a younger version of myself and really feast on music of a time forgot. All these year end lists let you see – even years in the future what got people excited. They are frequently among the most cited pieces of content by music historians and they oftentimes will be used in bands promotional material for records moving forward, If you can’t appreciate the value that those bring and the inherent power then you are missing out on a really key piece of content. For me at least, this is the only time of the year when I’m not just ‘Some asshole with a blog’ but instead ‘that asshole who heard EVERYTHING that came out this year and has some cool opinions’.

Of course, if you’re affiliated with the music industry and have bands of your own then you are going to be wondering, what can you do to get the projects you are involved with on these all important lists. The answer is, unfortunately, not a lot. While there certainly are a few tricks, like not putting your record out too early in the year, because otherwise you’ll be forgotten and not putting it out too late because then the writers will not have had the time to sink their teeth into the album, there are no truly hard and fast rules defining this stuff. One thing that I have observed is really able to help in a meaningful way though is staying in touch with the journalists who wrote positive things about your album and maybe casually hinting at some of the cool little musical twists and turns that your art took as it developed. You shouldn’t be too in their face about it though, that just makes you look like a performative asshole.

In other words, to be considered for year end lists is the same as just about any other press coverage, just make sure that you are a nice guy who stays in touch and is able to follow up. There is some value I think to having your publicist do a blast with your record again for “End of Year list consideration” if you got a really positive response but that’s also easy to get billed as sheer arrogance. I think a more subtle way to push end of year coverage is to have some big stuff going on in those crucial months of September and October so that your name is out there and people are going back to your work to listen once more. While this could be something straightforward like a tour or a music video it could also be a vinyl release of the record, a new label or something else entirely. The goal is more to just get in peoples faces enough that you are impossible to forget and that people are going to need to check out your record once more and remember why it needs to be included in their list.

For some of us the holiday season is a stressful time, full of financial concerns and frustrating families. For others it’s a time to rejoice and revel in a year of challenges met and competitors bested. Regardless of where you might stand on your personal journey, year end lists are forever, coming through year after year and impressing listeners with all that comes to the table over the course of the last twelve months. End of year lists are one of the best ways to really get into your fans heads and start to get some real traction and they are also indicators of where the zeitgeist of a genre is at. Study them, learn from the and then do your best through cultivating personal relationships around your truly great music in order to take advantage of them.

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