Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Real Point of Music Blogging.

Record collector voice
I just came across a list on Mashable entitled "Top 5 Tips for Aspiring Music Bloggers", and I have to say I felt that it missed the point. The article's stance largely assumes that people think music blogging is a "job", one that you must be exceptionally knowledgeable to do before starting, that people who want to be music bloggers start out wanting to write for other blogs and get paid for it, that it is about being an authority on a niche subject, and that you shouldn't be too negative.

The article is full of quotes from lots of men who run well respected music blogs that (apparently) make money. I only know one person who makes decent money from their music blog, it has become an organisation, and it has been running for 11 years. The vast majority of music bloggers I know do it because they love it, because the new video from so and so keeps them up at 4am, and they want to share it with people. It's a great feeling when someone says you've made their day, they enjoyed a live show you recommended, you've filled up their iPod with music they love, or they want to debate something you've commented on, and for most of us that's the payoff. 

Personally, I believe that blogging is a great opportunity to change the way things work culturally. Journalism fits neatly with everything in the Mashable list above, but blogging is not journalism, it's self publishing - no editor, no stakeholders, no real rules, anyone can do it, you have ultimate freedom to write what you like, and that's the point (if you don't like it, don't read it). In my experience, back in the day, when there were lots of music magazines, record shops, DJs had to have vinyl, record labels were rolling in it etc etc, a lot of the gatekeepers to the music world seemed (often but not always) to be the kind of guys who felt the need to patronizingly "school you", not share something. I used to call them Music Fascists. 

Put Me On It started because of that. I used to feel too uncomfortable and intimidated to go in to record shops. It felt like I didn't speak the same nerdy language so I stayed away. Then a few years ago I got a laptop, and it was like a whole new world opened up - I got really excited and decided to share my journey with my friends and anyone else who cared to read my blog, and invited them to share with me. This is not a space where I try to impress anyone with my knowledge or make lots of money, this is a space where I share music I'm honestly excited about and inspired by, and I write with my friends in mind. It seems to have paid off since now I work as a consultant for record labels and companies who want to communicate more directly with their audiences online (though I can't tell you how much this annoys the Music Fascists).  

I believe music blogging is a unique opportunity for anyone who wants to share music they're passionate about and interested by, to be really honest about it, to support the artists they believe in, to positively impact the music industry, and to inspire the people around them - the more of that the better. I think it's sad when bloggers don't fully take up that opportunity, and they're motivated by traffic stats, being seen as "up to date", or heaven forbid "cool". Those things negatively impact on the way music is made, audiences abilities to sift through all the rubbish, and they devalue all of the quality that is out there. If you want to blog for the right reasons and you have something interesting to say you need no validation -  and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

When you strip everything but love and passion from the equation, I believe music blogging is an opportunity for a democratic cultural revolution, not a job.         

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