What first made you decide to move forward with putting together your own site?

Publication Week is dedicated to learning and sharing knowledge about music publications both big and small; We gathered some questions to find out a little bit about two of our favorite DIY online music publications from our list, Chicago Haze and ANCHR Magazine. Here’s what we found out:

“I always loved writing but was a really self conscious kid in terms of feeling comfortable expressing myself. [In college], I ended up having an internship which was all writing based. I realized that my hobbies were starting to change and grow as I was exposed to new things, ideas and experiences in college and I wanted to have an outlet to share what I was most passionate about. It initially started out as more about anything that I was interested in, but I quickly found my niche in writing about music.”  -Kristin Stahlke, Chicago Haze

“When the outlet I had been contributing to went under, unexpectedly. I had never really considered music journalism as something I wanted to pursue, but I’d been contributing to that outlet for a year after a random opportunity came up. When I found out they were shutting down, I realized I didn’t want to stop writing about music and decided to launch ANCHR.” -Rachel Zyzda, ANCHR Magazine

Where did the name come from?

KS: Honestly, I have no idea. I can’t remember where I came up with it at all! I do know that once I thought of it, I immediately went with it. Sometimes I wish that my website was just www.kristinstahlke.com, but after the past year or so with developing my website and my brand, I’m happy it has a name.

RZ: The name comes from a part of a song that inspired me; “The Anchor” by Bastille. The day I ultimately decided to start ANCHR, I was having an internal struggle, doubting myself as a leader/editor and not really sure I had what it would take to launch a publication. I was listening to my music on shuffle, and “The Anchor” came on. The beginning of that song has a sample from a documentary called “What Did You Take?” about drugs. In the clip that’s sampled, a psychologist is asking a patient to describe what goes on in his mind on a certain drug. The patient says he can’t explain what’s going on in his mind and the psychologist replies “Why don’t you just try?”  Taking that completely out of context, I heard that line and took it as the universe asking me why I didn’t stop doubting myself and “just try” to start my own publication. From that, I decided to name the magazine after the song that inadvertently inspired me. But without the second vowel cause that’s “cooler.”

How do you stay motivated to put out content?

KS: It’s really hard when you do this on the side. I copywrite all day for work and sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home is write more. On top of working a full time job, balancing a social life, going to the gym, and running a blog, it gets really hard and you can get burnt out easily. One way I hold myself accountable is creating a content calendar far in advance and being sure to stick with it. I try very hard to set time aside during the week to work on my content, whether that’s to write an entire post in a few hours or to work on something for 20 minutes at a time. This project has become something I never expected, and that’s motivation enough to know that I created it all myself.

What do you look for in a contributor?

RZ: Something I look for in a contributor is someone else who genuinely cares about the connection between the music and the listener. Someone who is passionate about music and wants to share it, but also someone who takes it seriously. I get a lot of people who reach out enthusiastically and want to help out, but then after shooting one show or writing one review, I stop hearing from them. Or they’ll ask me for a press pass and then not end up not making it to the show, which is a bad look. Basically I’m looking for someone who is passionate and reliable, looking to contribute for the sake of supporting great music and art. Supporting great music is what keeps me going with ANCHR.

What has worked well in pitching a piece?

Three things have worked well for me:

  1. When pitching to cover a show, I mention all of the other times I have covered that artist on my website in whatever capacity. This shows you care about the artist.
  2. The more writing you have published, the more a representative will be able to get a feel for your voice & will take you seriously. I wrote about every single performance I saw in 2018 and I think having that body of work has helped my credibility a lot.
  3. When I do show reviews, I make a point to introduce the artist to my reader in a sense that’s bigger than just explaining their live show. This provides more insight to their work and their career leading up to the show – so it’s sort of like a spotlight & show review in one post. This format has worked well for me and I think it’s showing a representative that I want to go the extra mile to showcase their client

Stay tuned for the advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself in media!

What are the advantages of working for yourself in the media industry?

KS: All of the amazing opportunities to connect with people who are passionate about the same things you are, discovering new music and the ability to share that music on a platform that people pay attention to. Knowing that there are musicians that are grateful for what I do on top of my readers who I know enjoy what I create is a huge way for me to not only feel confident about what I’m doing, but to have body of work that can benefit my professional career in the long run.

RZ: The advantage of working for myself is that I can curate and pick what I want to cover. I never have to take assignments and can either take on as many or as little shows to cover or articles to write as I feel comfortable with.

What are some disadvantages when working for yourself?

KS: It’s impossible to cover every single thing you want to cover and that’s something you have to accept. It’s also really tricky to write a review of something you may not want to write. For example, I wrote a show review in the fall of last year that wasn’t outwardly negative, but not as positive as it could have been – and the artist himself direct messaged me on twitter and basically expressed disappointment in what I had written.

RZ: One disadvantage is that I often overload my plate. I wear a lot of hats for ANCHR— from writing, photography, editing, requesting press passes from publicists, the social media, etc. It all takes time and adds up. Also, since ANCHR is such a small outlet, I don’t always get the chance to cover or feature every artist I’d like to— if I contributed to a larger publication, I might have that chance more. For the most part though I am admittedly a bit of a control freak, and I like to be able to decide what ANCHR features.