Entries from October 2017

Lnwy, Another Avenue

October 20, 2017

Say hola to LNWY.co! The music media site is a collaboration between Bolster and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival (a.k.a. the music event that most aligns with my taste in music).

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Before you roll your eyes (oh good, another agency/brand buying a media outlet), the premise behind LNWY is really refreshing.

Something we noticed at Bolster is that media outlets have moved away from the type of music journalism we grew up with. I absolutely fell in love with music via reading long form articles in grotty-yet-precious copies of Rolling Stone and Q Magazine I borrowed from the local library. This was the only way I had any insight into my favourite bands. Well, that and begging my mum to buy me terrible, unofficial band bios and trawling through dingy internet forums. As much as listicles are sometimes useful, you really can’t delve into the psyche of a band via a top five list of really obvious facts that comes up on Google. A one-sentence track-by-track doesn’t really paint a proper picture of what an album is about. Ten boring news pieces from different media outlets around the same festival announce that all magically mention the same few key words and adjectives smells… fishy. Smells like some lazy interns copying and pasting bits from a press release.

I love that the Bolster x Laneway team brought in the big guns to get the content side of things right. They hired Darren Levin to be the Managing Editor.  (To save you from creepily looking him up on LinkedIn, he’s the former Editor-In-Chief at Sound Alliance, a writer for Rolling Stone and #1 Dad according to his office water bottle.) There’s also budget for content. What the fuck. When I was in the music writing game I got paid in CDs, free tickets and a byline.

The design side has been handled by Nicky Humphries at Bolster, who’s come up with a devastatingly beautiful site. Jake Cleland did a nice write up describing the tasty UX. I also love how most of the photos, videos and illustrations are completely designed and created for LNWY. Similar to the words, the visuals aren’t just pulled out of a Dropbox that every other media outlet is using.

On the advertising side of things, the other different thing is that the site isn’t calling for bands and artists to pay money to get air time. I think we’ve all gotten used to the fact that editorial and advertising sleep together (#ad #sponsored #paid), but there’s something gross about how skewed the portion of paid vs. not paid content on some sites have gotten. (Alex Zacca’s panel at BIGSOUND discussed this in circles.) For contrast, LNWY has zero advertising space on it. Zero leaderboards. Zero MRECs. Zero towers. A music site still needs money, and that comes from really beautifully executed native content, powered by related brands and publicly declared as sponsored.

It kind of reminds me of what I had in mind for Paper-Deer, but up about a hundred notches. For those who don’t know, PD was a completely non-profit music blog I ran for a couple of years in my early twenties. No ads (I didn’t have budget to pay my contributors though, soz, but I also didn’t make money for myself either). I had a strict ‘no copying and pasting’ policy so we would never push out a news article that was purely based on a presser. Everything had to be freshly written or photographed specifically for Paper-Deer for it to go live. You’d be surprised at how many bands and publicists asked how to pay us money (which we didn’t accept) before even sending us music to listen to. PD died in its ass because I was too busy with agency work to give it attention. And also it wasn’t that great. Before you try Googling it, the site is no longer live :P

Moving on… Laneway Fest is one of Bolster’s longest digital clients. I’ve worked across the festival’s digital advertising for three cycles, and am very excited to be helping on the digital strategy and implementation for LNWY around its launch into the world.

If you want some further reading, check out Laneway founder Danny’s piece on it here. And some nice pieces from The Music Network and Mumbrella on the venture too. Have a poke around LNWY or send a like over to the Facebook page.

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P.S. We all had to keep this under our little felt hats for months. Wasn’t easy when select people at BIGSOUND were yelling, “I SIGNED AN NDA ABOUT THE SECRET PROJECT CAN WE TALK PLEASE,” at me. Definitely did not help.

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