SEED Blog Homepage

The latest news about, contributing to AOL’s sites, and journalism careers in the Internet age.

You've Got Opportunities ... as an Editor at AOL

If you are an editor or a producer who wants to use your skills in a whole new way, we've got some amazing jobs for you. We are building out the editorial and operations team for the AOL content platform, an organization that now combines our Seed and StudioNow freelance networks with innovative software tools in order to create the very best content on the largest number of topics in the most efficient ways.

Every one of the manager jobs is appropriate for people with considerable journalism experience who want to be pioneers inventing new ways to recruit, train, motivate, assign, edit and produce the work of creative professionals. (We've also got some other roles for people starting out in their careers and looking for freelance editing work. See below.)

The content network has already been used to create city guides on AOL Travel, cover NFL and NCAA teams on Fanhouse, profile celebrities for Popeater, and write biographies of candidates for Politics Daily. And we're just getting going.

Below are short summaries of the job openings we've got. All but one is listed on AOL's corporate recruiting Web site. If you're interested please apply on that site. If you're not, please tell your friends. All of these are full time jobs and can be based either in New York or Nashville, where our StudioNow unit is based. (We want a small, tightly knit team, so we're avoiding remote workers for now.)

Continue reading »

A toast to you

Howdy from Austin.

It's been great being down in the Seed Lounge on the floor of the Austin Convention center talking to so many people about Seed and AOL. It's been particularly gratifying talking to people who have written interviews of the bands set to play in the music festival here about how they enjoyed the assignment and to band members who feel that their stories have been well told.

We want to thank everyone involved in this project, and we'd like to take you to lunch, today Wednesday March 17.

Even if you didn't write a band interview, please join me, Melissa Olund, the managing editor of AOL Music, and the rest of the Seed and team. It's an informal gathering where we can talk about music, writing, Seed, and what's up at South By this year.

We're having two lunches, 11:30 to 1 and 2 to 3:30. They are at Brazos loft. 201 E. 5th street. You can't miss it because the AOL Monster is out front.

We'd love to get a count on who's coming, so RSVP in the comments here or by sending an e-mail to for the 11:30 lunch or for the 2 PM lunch.

If you're in town, I look forward to seeing you there. If not, I'm raising my (cowboy boot shaped) glass to you.

SXSW beyond Twitter: 140 words and a photo

Two years ago, an easy-to-underestimate technology tornado was let loose from a stage at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas: Twitter. Suddenly there was a way for anyone with a cellphone to tell the world what they were seeing, doing or thinking. Since then, Twitter has become one of the fastest and most comprehensive sources of news in the world, at least 140 character sparks of news.

This year at SXSW, AOL is going to try a slightly different format that we hope will be as quick and easy for people to create yet more satisfying to read.

We call this the 140/140 Close-Up, a three part bundle of information:
  • ·A 140 tight word description of one moment, event or idea. (For SXSW, that means the most transcendent song of the set, the most improbable costume on the street, the most outrageous ruckus at the party, or the most inspirational comment at the panel discussion.)
  • One photograph that captures the drama or humor of the moment. A cellphone photo is fine.
  • And a witty 140 character headline that will be sent out on Twitter with a link to the post and photo. (Sticklers will note that there are really about 120 characters for your headline to leave room for the link and hashtag.)

Anyone in Austin over the next week can contribute these 140/140 Close-Ups through, our platform for hiring the world to help us make the most amazing Web sites. We'll pay you $10 for every item we publish. When did Twitter ever buy you anything? (If you're interested, see the instructions below.)

Post on your phone

Not by accident, this assignment is tailor-made for our nifty new Seed Mobile application. That's right, anyone with an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone can download an application that will let you claim any Seed assignment, write articles, and attach a cellphone picture right on your handset.

Of course, you can write your Close-Ups on a computer too. Stop by the Seed Lounge in the Fourth Street lobby of the Austin convention center to use our computers and Wi-Fi. (Even if you're not going to spend your precious moments at SXSW writing, come by anyway to meet the Seed team and AOL's editors. We'll also tell you about a bunch of cool events we're holding throughout the festival.)

Read on premier sites

The other great advantage of writing through Seed is that you are not tweeting into the wilderness. The 140/140 posts will appear along with the great SXSW coverage on AOL's very popular network of sites. Our experienced editors are weeding out the duplicate and off-topic submissions, so readers will get the most lively and comprehensive coverage anywhere.

All the posts about the Interactive side of the festival will be on DownloadSquad, which covers all sorts of Internet and software tools and ideas. The SXSW film festival will be covered on Cinematical, our site for the passionate movie lover. And, of course, the music items will be on Spinner, AOL's indie, rock and beyond site. Spinner has also been the home of our other exciting SXSW project: using Seed writers to interview as many of the nearly 2,000 bands playing in the music festival as possible. They are amazing. Take a look here:

Be a rock-and-roll detective.

But there are a few bands that our very intrepid Seed reporters have not yet tracked down. And that brings us to a few more assignments we've got for SXSW attendees this week: We're looking for a few people to track down the remaining and (politely) try to interview the ones that got away. If a childhood watching Miami Vice made you always want to be a rock-and-roll detective, we've got a job for you.

On the other hand, if you've got a little Diane Arbus inside trying to get out, take a look at the set of slightly warped projects from Urlesque, AOL's guide to the culture, humor and deep strangeness of the Worldwide Web. It wants pictures of the oddest laptop stickers, the most anti-social geeks and more.

Here is everything you need to know to write and take pictures about SXSW for AOL and where to read all of our coverage, from both Seed contributors and the best team of professional music, movie and Web journalists around. If you're in Austin, I hope to meet you. If not, we've got a lot of ways you can follow the action besides a pile of Tweets.

Covering SXSW for Seed
Sign up: If you're not already registered for Seed, go to Registration takes less than a minute, but you'll need to check your e-mail to verify your log in.
Pick your project: Once you log into, select "Special Events" from the dropdown menu in the "Recommended Assignments" section. You'll see the complete list of projects related to SXSW. Click on them to read more and press "Claim This" if you want to write it.
Go mobile: If you've got a smartphone, download the mobile app at
One trick: You can start a post on your phone and then finish it on a Web connected computer. But you can't use your phone to work on something you started on the Web.

Following SXSW
AOL has the most comprehensive coverage of SXSW anywhere, brought to you by dozens of journalists and hundreds of seed contributors. Read it here:

Download Squad SXSX Interactive coverage:
Download Squad Twitter feed:

Cinematical SXSW film coverage:
Cinematical Twitter Feed:

Full AOL Music SXSW coverage:
Spinner's SXSW coverage including 140/140 posts:
Spinner Twitter feed:
Band directory with interviews:

Urlesque's "The people of SXSW: on Tumblr:
Urlesque's Twitter feed:

We want you to help cover SXSW

Every year 2,000 bands converge on Austin, Tex., for the annual South By Southwest music festival. This year, AOL's plans to interview all of them in advance. That's something that no other music outlet has accomplished.

But with your help, we can do it. Simply join AOL's music writing team through, our new site that invites people to write and take pictures about what they are most interested in and earn money at the same time.

You don't need to have written a cover story forRolling Stone to participate, but you do have to be a resident of the United States. If you are passionate about music, attend shows and talk to bands (or just want to), this is an excellent opportunity to get your byline in front of millions of fellow music fans around the world.

If you're selected, we'll send you the name of a band. You'll research them, interview them and write up the interview in a simple Q&A format, as well as compose a brief biography. If we run your piece, you'll pocket $50. That's a bellyful of BBQ down in Austin, Texas. Plus, if your interview is published and you enjoyed the assignment, you may have the opportunity to contribute more.

We've already started publishing these interviews. You can read them here. But there is still time to jo

If you're interested in interviewing a band now, contact us at with the subject line "Writing for SXSW." In the body of the email, you must include the following information:

- Name (Legal name -- no pen names accepted)
- Physical Address
- Preferred phone number
- E-mail
- AIM screenname (If you have one. If you don't, get AIM here.)
- Will you be attending SXSW 2010?
- Highest education completed (students welcome -- just let us know)
- Describe your writing experience, if any (100 words max)
- Describe your musical tastes (100 words max)
- List all employment or connection to the music industry or other potential conflicts (if any)
- Feel free to append one writing sample or a link to a published work of yours (optional).

Please note that all assignments would need to be completed within a specified deadline, typically one week, and you need to follow our standards of responsible reporting and accept our publishing program agreement, which can be found here:

When contacting the band for an interview, you can describe yourself as representing for Spinner and AOL. It is not appropriate to describe yourself as working for AOL or Spinner in any other context, such as requesting press passes, tickets, or recordings.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best,The Spinner Staff

Calling all 2,000 bands playing at SXSW

Every March, tens of thousands of music fans converge on Austin, Tex., for the annual South by Southwest festival, where nearly 2,000 bands play over five intense days. But which bands to see? The festival site links to the bands' own sites. Music sites offer a round up of some hot bands playing.

This year, AOL's indie music site,, is going to do something that as far as I can tell has never been done before. Over the six weeks, we are going to interview as many of the 2,000 bands as we can reach on the telephone. Spinner will publish the Q&A interviews with all these bands. And we'll also write band biographies for all of them that will appear in the AOL Music artist directory.

Actually some of you will conduct a lot of these interviews and create a lot of these profiles, by way of Seed, working alongside the veteran music journalists at Spinner. Starting today, you can apply to join our SxSW profile team. We'll send you the name of a musician to interview and a guide on how to do it. If your interview is published and you enjoyed the assignment, you can ask for more bands to interview. We'll pay $50 per profile, and you also get the fun of talking to artists on the cutting edge of indie music.

The details of how to join the profile team are in this post on Spinner and also on Seed in the Arts & Entertainment category.

And if you are going to SXSW, check back soon for how to join our SXSW street team, where you'll help be our eyes and especially ears, in the clubs, at the parties and yes on the streets of Austin.

With this project, we're starting to show off how Seed is going to be very different from other sites that offer writing work over the Internet. Seed is an integral part of the new AOL, one of the largest journalistic organizations in the world. And we're asking Seed contributors not simply to regurgitate what they can find searching the Web, but to get on the phone, get out into the world, ask questions, witness events and write what they've discovered.

You can also see how we are going to evolve the way Seed deals with creators. So far, we have mainly had open assignments, in which any number of people could submit articles. Some have said this seems more like a contest than a job. For SXSW, we are only asking one writer to profile each band. To make this work, we are using e-mail for part of the process. Soon the Seed site will automatically handle this sort of assignment. And it will invite creators to tell us about their professional experience, so we can match the right assignments to the right people.

Like everything we're doing now at Seed, this is very much an experiment. We don't know how these interviews will turn out. But I'm betting, they will be as lively and varied as the SXSW festival itself.

UPDATE 2/10 As of today, we have more than 300 people who have been assigned profiles and more than 100 have been completed. Nearly all of them are fun, lively and interesting. We've started publishing them on Spinner. You can read them here: