March 2 2011 10:30 AM

A step-by-step guide to making it in the blogosphere

Photo illustration by Adam Vieyra
Let’s face it: You can’t be a rock star anymore. Record sales have plummeted, and major labels are looking for the next Justin Bieber. But you can be an indie-rock star. Pitchfork is like The New York Times Book Review of the indie-rock world. If you make it on Pitchfork, you’ll make it in the indie world. Sure, you won’t make any money, people won’t recognize you in the supermarket and a number of disgruntled critics might even hate you for your fame, but you’ll gain the adoration of a lot of hip young people. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have your track posted on Pitchfork’s blog, Forkcast, in no time. At the very least, you’ll get a mention on its lo-fi-obsessed sister blog, Altered Zones.

1. Quit your band If you want to make it in the blog world, you gotta be new. Brand new. I’m talking nobody-even-knows-you-exist new. If your band’s been together at least a year and it hasn’t already been blogged about, forget about it. Quit your band, sell all of your equipment except your guitar and MacBook (actually, keep the MicroKorg). Don’t have a MacBook, you say? Well, get one! Garage bands don’t cut it any more. You need GarageBand.

2. Quit your job Better yet, get yourself fired; you’ll need the unemployment checks. If necessary, move into your parents’ house. The important thing is that you have time to focus. And, it’s a crucial detail for the press release. Kids can relate to unemployment, since a lot of them will be in your shoes after they graduate high school.

3. Come up with a name Nostalgia is key. The name needs to evoke youth and fun, but also an element of sadness and resentment. Some combination of the following words should suffice: “Teenage,” “Memory,” “Dream,” “Neon,” “Young,” “Girls,” “Mirror.” But if that doesn’t work, go ahead and use “Gak.”

4. Smoke tons of weed Another important detail for your press release. The most popular drug in the indie-rock world today is marijuana. For some reason, people will think it’s cool that you fritter away your hours taking bong rips and watching Judge Judy. If you’re allergic to weed, well, see how far smoking crack gets you. It worked for Salem.

5. Listen to ’50s pop The ’80s were so 2009. The ’60s are big right now, but only until the “summer of slacker-punk” arrives. The ’70s have yet to blow up, though you’ll want to prepare for Winter 2012 by downloading Kansas’ and Boston’s self-titled debuts, as well as Chicago’s entire discography. For now, stick to Elvis, Roy Orbison and The Coasters. And lots and lots of doo-wop. Anything you can find. The more obscure, the better. Pitchfork writers will be loving that shit for approximately the next 13 months.

6. Write one good song Every buzz band has one good song—sometimes two, maybe even three. But all you need is one. Take your time (but make sure to read Forkcast religiously to keep abreast of music trends). Don’t play any live shows—that’ll just distract you. Just focus on writing one good song. It should be poppy, but artsy. Bold, but not too bold. Weird, but catchy. Different, but not that different. If you’re having trouble, just sample the hook from an obscure hit from the ’50s and build a song around that.

7. E-mail blogs Send your track to as many obscure music blogs as you can find. If your song is good enough, it will trickle upward and eventually reach the ears of a Pitchfork writer. But don’t e-mail Pitchfork directly—the point is for them to discover you.