Who are you and what do you do? Hey! My name is Staley Sharples, and I am Editor in Chief of WeArePressPlay. I am also DJ, primarily in Scotland (where I’m currently based until July), as well as in my hometown of Chicago. Oh, and I’m a fourth year management student at the University of St. Andrews but not for much longer!
Can you tell me a little about your blog and what motivated you to work in the music industry?
WeArePressPlay is an online music magazine currently based out of Scotland that covers a variety of international content. Our writers are stationed in cities across Europe and the United States, which brings about a lot of unique perspectives on local musical movements. The site originated as a group of University of St. Andrews students, myself included, writing for the music section of our uni’s art magazine. We were a really passionate crew and our section ended up writing more than the entirety of the art magazine itself, so we decided to branch off to further explore all the quirky stories and cool sounds we wanted to share with our friends.
Back in October, we relaunched ourselves to our current site. WeArePressPlay’s grown significantly in the past six months, and I’m tremendously proud of all the writers who are on the team. I’m honestly always so interested in what they pitch to me I want to publish articles that appeal to any kind of music fan. If you learn a little something from one of our articles or find a new artist you fall in love with, that’s awesome. That’s our goal. The site is about pushing boundaries and creating content that’s engaging, integrative, and socially conscious. We have some really, really talented voices in the mix. Our managing editor, Josh Messer, is a content killa.
Writing has been a hobby of mine my whole life, from summers at Duke Young Writers Camp to starting my own creative writing club in high school. Music’s the other constant for me I know it’s cliche to say that I love music, but I really do feel it’s something that’s vital to my sense of self. So, it makes sense that two of my biggest loves merged together. I’ve been writing about music for three and a half years now, and dabbled in some PR work here and there, along with DJing several events and fashion shows in St Andrews.
Before WeArePressPlay I wrote at EDM Chicago, The Dankles, and NEST HQ, all of which are all awesome publications that taught me a lot and helped shaped my voice. To be totally honest, I never thought that this would end up being a potential career path for me I just loved music, and I wanted to talk about it with other people who were equally enthused. Being able to lead WeArePressPlay as Editor in Chief is a dream. I’m always learning something new and happy I get to write about the things I love!
How have you and your blog grown over the past year and what have you done to help push that growth?
As I mentioned before, we did a relaunch in October and moved our whole team to a Wordpressbased site. We were previously operating on Cargo Collective, and it was impeding our productivity and cohesiveness as a publication. So with the help of Josh and a few other team members, WeArePressPlay went through a total revamp. We reorganized our group’s communication strategies, and added in new systems and features that would help differentiate ourselves in the highlysaturated music blog market. We’ve upped our content as a whole, but have never sacrificed quality, which I think is a key component that makes WeArePressPlay stand out. By increasing our visibility but still maintaining the original, nuanced voices of our writers, we were able to draw a larger group of loyal readers to our site. Additionally, it’s extremely important to both Josh and I that we cover music news, such as the Paris attacks or Kehlani’s hospitalization, with the utmost sensitivity and clarity we can. We are the antithesis of clickbait journalism and we will always stay that way. Clickbait goes against everything I personally stand for, and I feel like readers appreciate the fact that we respect them. Maybe I’m projecting I guess I prefer websites that don’t bog you down with those obnoxious headlines about what unflattering hairstyle Justin Bieber has or if DeadMau5 has “beef” with some random producer. That’s not news to me. It’s literally logging on to social media and seeing someone posted an update, which I didn’t need a web tabloid to tell me.
If you’re taking the time to read our work, we’re going to respect that, and we’re going to talk about what we cover in a respectful way too. I was just having a conversation with my friend David about editorial styles today, and I really liked what he said about why his site takes a thoughtful, anticlickbait stance in their coverage of film: “if I can point my passion to improving the discourse regarding the art, that should be a primary goal.” He totally nailed it.
What are your goals for 2016?
Graduating... then who knows what else. I want to do a lot of traveling this year I’m currently planning to visit Mallorca, Stockholm, Oslo, and Prague, then do some island hopping around Croatia and Greece in late June with all my St Andrean buddies.
My life is in a little bit of a transitional place right now. I hope to continue to grow as an editor and writer, and perhaps pursue more of the artist management side of things as well. Still kind of figuring things out at this point! Right now I’m focusing on getting through the end of the semester and gearing up for festival season. I’m so excited that I’ll be back in Chicago this summer for all the amazing fests they have on this year!
What is one tip you would give to young professionals starting out in this industry?
Put yourself out there! If there’s a site you’re interested in writing for, email the editors and express you’d like to work for them if and when a position is available. The worst thing they can say is no, and you can move on from a no. I’ve found that people are usually pretty friendly and receptive to you if your interest in them is coming from a good place. I’m always flattered when someone reaches out to me for advice so I’d imagine most other people feel the same! ;)
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