Hugh is the founder of the music blog Pop! Bang! Boom! and a Forbes contributor on all things music and music business. He writes for various other publications and blogs around the world and is a member of The Recording Academy.
Check out our interview with Hugh below to learn more about his passion for pop music, his advice for musicians in the digital age, and his resolutions for 2015.
How did you get your start?
I’ve been blogging for fun for about 6 years; it started as a hobby. Then in grad school, I applied for an internship at Billboard and began writing for them. I was living in Boston and I’d come to New York a couple times a month for the Billboard job. During this time, I gradually built up my portfolio. My main gig now is with Forbes about the music industry and the business of music.
Do you think social media is working for or against musicians?
I think it’s very helpful. Back in the day, you either had to have a lot of money promoting you or stick to being a locally known artist, but these days artists can get big because of a fun YouTube video that went viral. Your whole life is different. I like that we’ve seen street teams go away and instead of promoters passing out fliers, now it’s shared on social media with a tweet: “Hey we’re coming to your city.”
Social media has made it a lot more democratic for anyone to have a chance.
What’s your advice for musicians in the digital age?
I think that as much as I don’t want to say it, take every opportunity to make money because you probably won’t sell a lot of records. Count on no money from sales, and focus on getting your song featured in a commercial, do tours. If actual money rolls in from Spotify or Itunes, great! And focus on brands to hire you.
How’s your experience been with Fluence?
I’ve really enjoyed Fluence. I genuinely like about 75% of the music that is submitted to me and I’m happy to tweet it out…”hey, I heard this new track on Fluence”.
— Hugh McIntyre (@PopBangHugh) December 17, 2014
We saw that Betty Who -“Heartbreak Dream” was your favorite song for 2014; we love that video! How do you decide on your “Favorites” list?
For that list, it’s really specific. It is a favorite list, not a critic list. I look back over the year and I take a look at what I’ve listened to and then I re-listen to it. I think, “Am I happy with this? Do I really like it?” You have to trust your gut. It’s also how I try and review music…sometimes you have to wrestle with it.
On your site, you have a feature called “5 Questions With”. Anyone on your hitlist for 2015?
Gwen Stefani! As a pop geek, I’m so excited for her comeback.
Why pop music?
When I first started blogging, I reviewed the pop genre more. To know what you’re talking about, you have to know the genre. Starting from a position of not liking it is not fair to the artist or audience. I found myself drawn to pop more, investigating it, learning the history. As I learn more, I find myself thinking, what’s happening in the underground or this reminds me of this artist. You need a certain level of intelligence to cover it well and focus on it.
Any other genres you’re thinking about expanding to?
I end up being connected to EDM music because EDM is pop right now. But then once you’re in the genre, you will get deeper into it. I’m learning about avant-garde electronic and getting more interested in the EDM that isn’t really pop connected.
So 2015 has arrived…any New Year’s resolutions on the professional front?
Yes! I have two…
- Trying to get better at answering emails immediately; I get so many story pitches, ideas from publicists, etc. I open and read, then forget to respond and I feel so bad. Even if I say no, it needs to happen right away. I am getting better at responding, but under 20 unread emails is my goal!
- I get so caught up in writing about business stories, that I will go a week without hearing any new music. People start asking me, did you hear such and such? And I’m like, uh, no I’ve haven’t heard anything! A couple of new records a week is my goal.