The Influencers

 Jason Grishkoff

11. jason

Jason Grishkoff, 30, launched his music blog, Indie Shuffle, out of a passion for sharing music. Born and raised in South Africa, Grishkoff says he pursues a “digital nomadic” lifestyle, traveling back and forth from the States, Europe, and South Africa. The idea for Indie Shuffle came from wanting and needing to share amazing music finds with friends he left behind while traveling. Describing his work as an “obsession,” Grishkoff has grown Indie Shuffle to be more than just a blog: it is music discovery fueled by real people. Grishkoff wanted to create a seamlessly integrated music and listening experience, and for that very reason, Indie Shuffle has taken off and become what it is today. He also recently launched his new site, SubmitHub, which makes the disorganized process of submitting music to blogs more structured. With over 130,000 submissions, and a high response rate, over 8,000 songs have already been approved and blogged. Together, Indie Shuffle and SubmitHub redefine music discovery.

Indie Shuffle is all about people discovering music. What role has music played in your life? 

Music has provided inspiration for me, and has opened a number of doors. It led to my new project, SubmitHub, which is something I couldn’t do without coding, or if I didn’t have a problem to solve. On a daily basis Indie Shuffle receives 300 submissions, where people ask us to put up their songs. About ninety-six percent of it was horrible—stuff we never would cover. It became hard to sift through it all. Because of this problem, Indie Shuffle led to SubmitHub, which is an easy way for independent artists to get that big break. Prior to this platform, people needed connections. In a sense, Indie Shuffle is a big influencer when you want to launch your career. It spurs good things in your music career. And once we covered these artists, they became big.

What role do blogs play in influencing the music industry? How do blogs affect people’s taste in music and music’s popularity? 

Music blogs represent one of the best forms of A&R in the industry. Back in the day, record labels would hire people in the know (Artists and repertoire, or A&R, is responsible for talent scouting, and finding the very best). Indie Shuffle has sifted through hundreds of songs. In a way, one could determine artists’ success if many music blogs are talking about them. Record labels look to music bloggers as their first source of what is up-and-coming. Music blogs are influential for people in the industry.

In a way, Indie Shuffle is all about musicians coming to fame through word-of-mouth via social media. How does this concept overcome the commercial big business aspect of the music industry? 

It feeds on it. Rather than working against huge commercial success, major labels look at us bloggers for what they should focus on. For example, Sam Smith became a huge commercial success during the peak heyday for music bloggers. He built excitement around that. Social media aims to engage with an audience around a goal to drive traffic. Once it is on your platform, you can monetize it. You can adapt your social reach. If you have 100,000 Instagram followers, brands will want to pay you for coverage of their product. Social media is seen as a means to reach an audience and drive its traffic.

What has Indie Shuffle taught you about yourself and the blogging world? 

It has taught me that nothing lasts forever. You really have to push yourself to stay at the cusp of what is going. A year ago, I decided I needed to take my eggs out of the Indie Shuffle basket and move them toward SubmitHub, as well. Indie Shuffle has been around for 7 years, with rises and falls. But, the biggest takeaway is that you need to persist. Everyday I have something else to do. You need innovation—you need to work a certain way, be inspired by other people, push to the limit, and make it better. Indie Shuffle is important in that sense. My favorite part about blogging is when I discover a song that really knocks my socks off. It happens about once a month, out of thousands of opportunities. Something just hits me and it takes my breath away. And you just know when it happens

Text by Eden Marcus
Photograph by Yann Macherez