When I was 17, the idea of getting paid to write about music was absolutely absurd. I don’t even know if I knew that was a potential career choice as I struggled to figure out what I wanted to go to university for. I liked music, that was clear, but everyone likes music, no?
As I began to think about post-secondary school options, I started thinking about writing and journalism. I created a music magazine in high school for an English course, I attempted to make zines, I wrote for the school newspaper and I eventually started up a dinky little blog to gush over my favourite new discoveries like Feist, Woodhands, and Final Fantasy. The common thread with my writing became apparent: I wanted to write about music.
The Singing Lamb, and its previous blog incarnations, was a place for me to dump all of my enthusiastic feelings about music, both local and beyond. I didn’t think I was the best writer, but I didn’t care. I just wanted you to pay attention to these artists I loved and back in the day, there was definitely nothing eloquent about the way I wrote. Posts read like diary entries to an invisible music fan friend I had. No one ever commented on my posts, but I kept writing, talking to the vast, empty world of the internet.
Someone saw potential in my writing and growing music knowledge, though, and he decided to help me create a bigger and better blog. Graham Robertson was not only an important part of building The Singing Lamb, but he was (and still is) a very important person in my life. His faith and website-building skills helped launch this site. But still, it remained a fansite of sorts, hosting my nerdy feelings towards my favourite acts. Thanks to sites like Chromewaves, The Music Slut and You Ain’t No Picasso, I began to formulate a blog structure, though; ways to divide up my writing and become more informative and critical as opposed to just flat out fangirling. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be a blogger.
When we re-launched the website, I suddenly had a handful of friends willing to write for me and help me produce content. It was endearing to see people begin to notice and care about the blog. It began to form a voice beyond my own and I was excited at its potential to grow into a collective, showcasing other people’s works and their interests. This was becoming something and as an 18-year-old student, this was terrifying and amazing.
I didn’t know how to be a proper editor or writer at the time. I had no clue what I was doing and had to learn very quickly when I suddenly got bands and publicists approaching me with music. I no longer had to dig; I was being presented with music. What the fuck? I remember saying yes to everything because I was so flattered to be approached by anyone who had heard of my blog. I was an unknown in high school – just ask anyone I went to school with, not even teachers remember me – so the sudden attention to me and my blog was overwhelming (not to mention the attention I finally got from a boy who cared about me enough to make me a blog, that’s gotta be the modern day equivalent of, like, ten dozen roses).
But with school, it was becoming too much. I didn’t know how to handle it all and less than a year after the launch of the site, Graham and I were no longer speaking to each other. Although I had my friends to support me, I felt abandoned and alone with my site and a pile of promo CDs.
Somewhere in the site’s second year, I received an offer to freelance for Chartattack and AUX TV. Chart Magazine was a favourite of mine growing up and the opportunity to write for them – and get paid! – was a dream come true. And naturally, paid work took priority over unpaid work. I lost money keeping up my blog with the domain costs and events I invested time and money into. It was all worth it, but come on, people wanted to pay me for once! I wasn’t going to say no! And to work in an environment and with people who respected my writing and enforced deadlines – having friends write for me was great, but attempting to enforce rules with them was nearly impossible; again, unpaid work doesn’t motivate timeliness – I began growing and finally improving as a writer.
With Graham gone, I gave off responsibilities for the site to a number of generous people willing to help. Two years ago, I even gave complete ownership to Aviva Cohen and Wini Lo to run editorial and photo content and they’ve done nothing but try their hardest to continue producing great things for The Singing Lamb. I chose to pursue and focus on freelance writing and in turn, I gave up on this blog. This site was never going to sustain me financially the way freelance writing did (though, let’s be real, freelancing alone doesn’t support me either, but at least I was making and not losing money). I could’ve spent a lot more time and effort into making this site a financially viable thing. It’s not like I haven’t had countless meetings and thoughts about putting in advertisements, working on campaign deals and eventually paying contributors. For the love of God, I would pay every single one of my contributors if I could, but I couldn’t even afford lunch for myself some days. The idea of pulling in revenue was always there, but my heart followed freelancing instead and building a name for myself outside of the site. I will never forget the opportunities this site had given me, and how it helped me get my first freelancing gigs ever, but I wanted to move on and stop hiding behind my Lamb pseudonym. I wanted to be Melody Lau, music journalist.
But, as a friend pointed out, this site is still tied to my name and its recent lack of content and other factors (not getting posts up on time, etc. etc. – again, this isn’t anyone’s full-time gig, no one’s getting paid to do this and I’m not going to force this upon them) have contributed to a bit of a negative image. I don’t want this site to be a running joke. I don’t want people to think of The Singing Lamb negatively. It truly is my child and I am very protective over the Lamb and its reputation.
And, long story short – 1000 words later – I’ve decided to end all production on The Singing Lamb. This has nothing to do with its current contributors because they are all very important and extremely talented people, but I want people to remember this site for its heart and effort. If I could gain an extra 24 hours in each day, I’d commit all that time to this site, but alas, I can no longer support it.
This site will forever and always mean the world to me and is five years of my life that I will never forget. I don’t have a comprehensive list of people who have contributed, but each and every one of them are incredible human beings who believed in me enough to help pitch in whether with photos, writing or tech support. To that, I do want to specifically thank Graham Robertson, Matthew Braga, Jeff Jewiss, Genny Lui, Tom Lowery, Aviva Cohen and Wini Lo for their extra support and help on everything throughout the years. If any of you ever want a drink, you can totally have one or five on me. (Graham and I have since reconnected and have been great friends for over a year now and you best believe we will never start a site together again. It’s totally for the best!) I also want to thank all the bands, publicists, readers and friends who have been involved in any form. You continue to help support me and I am grateful every day for knowing every one of you.
The Singing Lamb will continue to be up in its present state, but will discontinue all content indefinitely.
For more from me (wow, shameless promotion time), you can follow me at @melodylamb on Twitter and read my work at a number of places including Exclaim! Magazine, MUCH, Nylon Magazine, MySpace and Huffington Post Canada.
Please give Aviva (@suckingalemon) and Wini (@winiw) a follow, too!
Happy listening and always your Lamb,