May 03, 2012
|Drew Berger ’13 and Chris Weld ’12 (center, in yellow) have amassed an engaged audience since launching their site, pnutbutterjams.com. (Photo by Judy Watson Tracy)
Social media is changing everything. Too brash of a statement? You might not think so if you were looking at the electronic dance music (EDM) industry. Over the past decade, the once underground genre has become the fastest growing sector in the music industry, becoming a multi-billion dollar force to be reckoned with and spawning the highest musical festival ticket sales this country has ever seen. Amazingly, it’s achieved all this with almost no help from radio or television.
That’s because EDM relies almost entirely on the Internet for the broadcast and sharing of its sound and events. It used to be that publications such as Rolling Stone and Billboard ruled the roost when it came to keeping music fans informed about the latest trends and rising stars. Today, websites and blogs, focused entirely on sharing not just news about artists and festivals, but also the songs themselves, are the primary source of information for EDM fans. These sites aren’t the creators of EDM but serve as curators, giving the industry a portal through which to transmit the latest news and must-listen-to tracks.
In the summer of 2010, Chris Weld ’12 and Drew Berger ’13 pondered the quality of EDM blogs, and thought maybe they could do better. As a result, they taught themselves web design and blog software, and launched pnutbutterjams.com (PB&J) with almost no thought to the amount of traffic they might attract.
“I never thought I would be a blogger,” Weld said. “We have always been really passionate about music, but I had no idea it would turn into this.” The “this” Weld is referring to is an EDM website that attracts more than 100,000 hits every week. “We just wanted to give good music to Rollins,” said Berger. “We never thought it would grow this big.”
The following year Weld and Berger unveiled a PB&J apparel line and have since sold more than a thousand items. “It’s so cool to see people wearing our tanks around campus,” said Chris, who along with a handful of other bloggers across the country and in the UK, does most of the blogging for the site.
The pair has also starting to do promotional work for and coverage of the top festivals and concerts in the country, garnering some pretty sweet complimentary tickets along the way. “We get invited to go to the events, meet the artists, and write reviews,” said Weld. For the critical media and cultural studies major, PB&J has presented the unique opportunity to get first-hand experience in an industry most of his classmates are still only just reading about in textbooks.
“The power of social media is unreal; there is so much potential, and we’ve learned how to use these platforms to our advantage,” said Weld, who will graduate in a few weeks. “I’m getting prepared to go into some form of the music industry right now, so it’s helped that I am learning how to interact in this environment. I’ve gotten a lot more mature, and turned into a tastemaker and trendsetter. I’m not going to say I’m not nervous about getting a good job. But I think I have all the experience you need to work exactly in the sector I want to work in. Not that I don’t’ have so much more to learn.”
For Berger, a studio art major, the experience dropped him into the world of graphic design, an industry he’s since become interested in. He sees the site as a resume. “It’s work experience, and it shows people that we’ve made something that’s become really successful.”
While it’s been a labor of love, creating and managing the site has been a lot of work. But that in itself has taught Berger a lot about his future career. “People should find something they can be passionate about, otherwise you won’t put your best effort into,” he said. “It still has a long way to go—I wish we were farther along by now—but it’s definitely something to be proud of.”
By Kristen Manieri
Office of Marketing & Communications
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