Picture of me ‘cos this is just me talking now…
I don’t know what the point of writing this post is. To the casual reader there isn’t going to be that much difference in their visits to electronic rumors; but for me it’s big change.
I’ve been feeling (increasingly, but a lot of the past couple of years) that the site has strayed so far away from what I wanted to do when I started ER almost seven years ago, to be honest I’m not sure it ever was what I wanted it to be, and I need to do something about it before I just want to call it quits entirely.
People have been writing about music on the internet since…well, the internet; but when I started electronic rumors music blogging (as opposed to blogging about music) was a relatively new ‘thing’. Written by passionate music fans who felt the need to express themselves and enthuse about the sounds they loved, new or old; rarely was music sent to them by PR people, only occasionally by musicians or labels themselves and never ever by majors. They would spend their days hunting down new music (not necessarily to blog about, but because it’s what they did anyway) or re-discovering old favourites and expressing to the world about what was exciting them at the time. That artist got a tiny bit of free promotion was a happy side-effect, there was a fire in these writers belly that compelled them to talk about music. These were music nerds. These were fanzine writers before the internet (as was I for years). These were band obsessives. And through these people I discovered an outlet for my own mania.
There was, briefly, a golden age of music blogs. A scene had formed of ardent writers. Music blogs were always well worth a read (yes, read!) whether the author was writing about their latest discovery or a classic album, their favourite band’s new single or an obscure nostalgic gem. These are the blogs that inspired me to start writing (also, it was either that or continue to bore my mates down the pub about whatever new music I had come across that week). These are the blogs I wanted to be like. Shamefully I have never achieved that ideal.
If you’ve ever read any interviews with me on music blogging you’ll probably know I’m weirdly self-hating about music blogs in general. Perhaps disappointed that I never achieved what I set out to I hold everyone to the standard to which I held (and failed) myself. Which is pretty self centred of me; but let’s face it, a lot of music blogs are utter shit. Posting music with no commentary at all, or posting music with the barest of sentences about release date and who the track is by, or just setting up an IFTTT recipe to automatically post any track you favourite on SoundCloud to a Blogger blog and calling yourself a ‘Music Blogger’…I mean, really, what’s the point of any of them? What do they really add to musical discussion? Just curate a playlist on Spotify and be done with it!
I think the slippery slope from passionate and articulate music fans shouting into the void about their audio loves to “look at me, I post SoundCloud links and that makes me part of the music industry!” began with HypeMachine, particularly their (now rescinded) policy of only featuring the first blog to post a particular track on their homepage. This fostered an atmosphere of competition in the music blog world. Those petty blogs that concerned themselves with traffic (often to bolster their meagre advertising earnings) had to be the first to post a new track or they could kiss their traffic goodbye. Obviously this meant people began posting without taking the time to comment on the music, without taking the time to offer their opinion and in extreme cases without taking the time to actually listen to the music. No time to listed and absorb, it was all about being first.
And those that were first got the traffic, which meant they could start talking about premières (which make for more ‘firsts’) which meant that other bands wanted premières on the site that X band was on, which meant that music PR now had a free way to accommodate the bands who paid them. And thus, the music blogging industry was born.
I’ve long been of the opinion that the main audience for music blogs is other music blogs, along with bands and PR people. I have never met a person in real life who used HypeMachine, and very rarely meet anyone who reads music blogs (who isn’t in a band or a producer).
PR people love blogs because it’s free coverage for the artists who pay them. Premières make bands especially happy for the bragging rights. Bands, musicians and producers love blogs because it’s coverage they can talk about, premières can be particularly boasted about. Blogs love PR people and bands because they get free music from them and, when they are courted for coverage, they get to feel special (more-so if it’s a band the are a fan of) and feel like they are part of the music industry, an insider. It’s intoxicating. So this little circle of everyone making each other happy forms, blissfully unaware that what they are doing has most likely next to zero affect on the consciousness of the general public, even music fans in general, or anyone outside of the circle.
Before anyone indignantly comments; yes, obviously there are exceptions. There are blogs (mostly not like the ones I am talking about) who do have influence on radio programmers, and promoters, and can do real good. And artists who have really benefited from blog coverage (Little Boots and Ellie Goulding spring to mind, but not really anyone new for a long time), but there rare cases where the right artists, the right writers and the right people paying attention just happen to be in the same place at the same time. That’s not how it works out for most people.
Don’t even get me started on blogs who end up posting laughably un-researched gossip rather than music. Seriously, what are they for?
And in amongst all this sycophancy, throwaway posts, fast moving updates, and premières the passion for music has been lost amongst the self-importance and bragging rights.
Not by everyone of course. There are still those pillars of music blog integrity that don’t play the game and still compose posts with passion and humour. Breaking More Waves springs to mind. Robin has been a constant inspiration to me in terms of his writing considered pieces and not caring what anyone else is blogging about. He, and a handful of other ‘good guys and gals’ have kept the spirit of music blogging alive; but they are the exception, not the rule.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go any anybody without having a go at myself. For one reason or another; insecurity (“I want to be relevant too!”), hubris (“I’m an important part of the music industry!”), obligation (“I’ve made a lot of good friends of artists I have featured, I don’t want to let them down!”) or whatever other reason, I am as guilty as the worst of them (well, maybe not the worst, I have always at least tried to write something considered, even if I am a shit writer who is strapped for time), but at least I’ve largely always acknowledged how shit the whole circumstance was.
Returning to the point of this post. This has to stop. It doesn’t make me happy.
What makes me happy is writing about music that excites me.
Not being a news outlet.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Essentially it’s going to boil down to ‘write more, post less’. Currently, and shamefully to me, the thought process is to write about everything I hear that I really like. A catalogue of music I dig. Sometimes, though, I can like a track sooooo hard, but just struggle to find the words to write about it.
From now on I’m only writing about music that seriously compels me to hit the keyboard, music I can’t help but say some words about. Music I actually have some words to say about. Rarely will I post a track on the day it’s released (unless I’ve had a promo copy in advance) as I’m going to want to spend more time with the music I write about; to gather my thoughts. It might not even be new music at all, I might be listening to an album from decades ago, or from earlier in the year, and just want to say something about it.
I want to be like the music sites that inspired me in the first place.
Those who know me know that this has been a long time coming.
I’m sure this is going to piss a few people off, and for that I’m sorry. I know there are artists out there that rely on electronic rumors for coverage and there may be times that I’m just not that outlet anymore (there may also be times that I still am that outlet; depending on the track, my mood, my schedule etc…), there’s even PR people who know they can come to me for coverage, and that may not always be the case moving forward. There may even be readers who come to the site for certain genres latest releases, and I’m sorry if we’re not always up-to-date in the future but hopefully the posts themselves will be a more satisfactory read.
In the end, I’m not happy with the site, so I’m changing it. If you don’t like it you can fuck off (or start paying me) ‘cos its my site.
The label side of electronic rumors will be unaffected by this shift in attitude, except maybe I’ll have more time to devote to it (and possibly get less coverage from music blogs after this post….).
So that’s that then. You know what music I like, if you’re into it keep coming back for more of my bullshit…but about less music…but more choice music maybe.
Sweet Raptor Jesus, do you remember when I was posting, like, ten posts a day! What a twat!
See you tomorrow for a post about some music I like.
MUSIC BLOGS ARE DEAD! LONG LIVE MUSIC BLOGS!
P.S. Synthesizer Zen isn’t going anywhere.
P.P.S. I might still throw up quick Video and Mixtape posts occasionally. Haven’t decided yet.
–Update— Not really an ‘update’ update as I’m posting this at the same time, but I wrote this on Saturday and over the weekend showed a draft post to a few select artists, PR people and bloggers. Interestingly, in private, every single one of the agreed with me 100%, and supported both my decision to change attitude and my decision to say this publically (which I was a little worried about). Thanks guys!