To fully understand the importance of today’s feature blogger, you would need the ability to track the rise and fall of countless bands over the last decade. His influence, and those of the people who help run his site have steered the alternative music scene through the rise of the digital age, and we could not be more honored to have him take part in our ongoing series.
It’s hard to believe thirteen years have passed since Jason Tate sat in his Oregon home building a website out of his admiration for Blink-182, but as of June 6 of this year that is exactly where we find ourselves. Since that time, AbsolutePunk has developed into an unstoppable source for music news, reviews, and exclusives, but what perhaps is most interesting is that Tate’s passion for the industry has only grown in time. While many struggled to come to terms with the rising importance of the internet in marketing, Tate was paving the way with a site built from the ground up with community in mind. Today that community numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and from what we can tell shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
Read on to learn about the history of AbsolutePunk, where Jason see the industry headed, and what advice he has to offer bands hoping to earn a spot on his coveted newsfeed. Be sure you also Follow Absolutepunk on Twitter and Like their efforts on Facebook.
H: For those unaware, please state your name, the site you work for, and your role at said site:
JT: Jason Tate, AbsolutePunk.net, I founded the site and continue to run the day to day operations.
H: What inspired you to start your own music blog? Did you go to school for writing or journalism?
JT:At the time I started this website the entire “blog” industry didn’t really exist. I looked at the state of mainstream music, about 15 years ago now, and looked at all the bands that were getting attention … I didn’t see a lot of the smaller bands I was listening to being talked about anywhere. I wanted a place to talk about those bands. So I built one.
I went to school for computer science, but changed my degree to business administration after my freshman year.
H: In the years since AbsolutePunk launched dozens of blogs and zines have cropped up covering the same talent, yet AP has remained the top alternative music destination online throughout. What is it about Absolutepunk that not only separates you from the rest, but helps you stay ahead of them too?
JT:AP.net is a community first and foremost. While plenty of sites want to talk at you … we exist to talk with you. The community is what powers the website — it’s where our staff come from, it’s where we find out about new bands, and it’s built into the core of what AbsolutePunk.net is.
When Fall Out Boy releases a new album, for example, you may wanna talk about it on facebook or twitter with a few of your close friends … but where else can you talk about the album with a few thousand diehard fans of music? AbsolutePunk.net is where that conversation is happening. It’s a combination of the community and social aspects of our site — mixed with our great content. At least, that’s the goal.
H: Speaking of these other sites, you partnered with Punknews, PropertyOfZack, and Under The Gun Review last year through SpinMedia to form AbsoluteVoices. What is the plan for this team of sites, and what do you hope to accomplish by bringing them together?
JT: The original idea, at its most basic, was to remove barriers of competition. What I was seeing in our music blog world was that if one site had some great content — other sites were scared to link to it because they didn’t want their users to leave and start visiting the other websites instead. I believe strongly in sharing the best content with visitors, and in doing that trusting they’ll continue to come back … I wanted to build a little coalition that allowed us to all benefit from sharing traffic and content and resources. So far, I think the experiment has been going great — traffic numbers are basically up across the board — and if you’re involved at all in the alternative music world … there isn’t any other alternative music property that comes close to our reach.
H: Back to AbsolutePunk. There has been talk for over a year that a revamped site design was in the works. What is the latest update on that project?
I’ve been writing a lot about this on my personal blog (chorus.fm), and the giant undertaking that it has been. The process has been intense as I just re-took the reigns of the entire design/coding process back. I am currently working on the back-end of the new website, and slowing working through the redesign of the site from the ground up. We’re going into it thinking through everything it is that we want AP.net to be. Great content. Great social features. How to find the content you want, how to organize the data, and how to present it in the best reading experience possible.
Truthfully? I love what we’ve come up with and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I believe that this is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of building — and that it’s the website I’ve wanted to build since I first started this website. It is the definitive version of AP.net, and is probably what will be the core of the website for the next 10 or so years of my life. It’s being built to scale and handle as much traffic as we can do, and it’s being built with the future in mind … so that you can access our website and content anywhere, on on any device currently out there or invented in the future … and I’m really excited about what we’ve come up with.
H: A number of bands finding success in music currently were assisted in their early days by being featured on AbsolutePunk. Where do you go to discover new music?
JT: I’ve always had people send me music — since I first started writing online … and I listen to a lot of recommendations from friends I’ve made along the way. I have a lot of people I trust when it comes to recommendations, be it friends, or certain people at labels, or members of our forums.
H: Let’s say a band wants to approach you about being featured on the site, what advice would you offer them to help separate themselves from the others vying for your attention?
JT:Make great music first. Haha.
And try and keep it simple. I don’t want giant crazy press releases. Simple. Good music. Build a following. The cream finds a way of rising.
H: When it comes to receiving music for review and feature consideration, which services do you prefer and why?
JT:If it’s not going to be a simple zip file in dropbox, I’ve outlined my ideal streaming service (Rdio), here:
What if a company like Rdio (for the sake of this post I’ll just keep referring to Rdio, but technically it could be Spotify as well) started reaching out to labels to add advanced music listening to their already stellar offering? They have the user accounts, they have the distribution method, and they have a great interface. Some 90% of the music is going to end up on these services to begin with - it wouldn’t take much work in the background to allow them to only be available to a select number of user accounts until release date.
Digital files or a clean streaming interface that integrates into my listening habits already. When I get a crappy stream of an advance, I usually wait for it to hit Rdio anyway … quality is better … I can just add it to my “queue” and listen during the day without having an extra program/tab open on my computer.
H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
JT:No more physical advances. I don’t want any more CDs. Haha. Most of my music is digital and I buy my favorite albums on vinyl.
H: You tweet a lot about having big plans for the future. Before we let you go, can you tell us a bit about what AbsolutePunk has planned for the remainder of 2013?
JT: We just released an official AbsolutePunk.net Podcast:
But the number one goal is launching the new version of the website. It’s our future.