The inevitable ‘don’t know what to write’ post

A recap on the blogging week. Well, despite yesterday’s post being a bit short and lame, it did have some music linked to it, and it did mean that I got through a week without missing a day’s update. I don’t do Saturday or Sunday posts because I’m in the music bizz, and that means that my weekends are filled with the glamourous and verging-on-illegal activities that fuel the bacchanalian carnival of excess that you expect of me. Awards ceremonies, driving cars into swimming pools, ‘pleasuring’ the ladies with live fish, etc.

So, what ‘appened? EMI looked like they were going bust, then announced that they’re selling Abbey Road studios. There were genuinely upset reactions from cultural commentators on the social networks who, once they saw that the public felt the same poignant regret about the issue as they did, instantly launched the backlash. So now Abbey Road is being hailed as ‘well, apart from one or two albums, not really that significant’ after all. If twitter has one useful function, it’s that the flock mentality of critics and columnists is so very visible and easy to monitor. It’s something I alluded to in one of last week’s posts – the very desperation of an instantly-networked bunch of tastemakers, most of whom are terrified of being the one who makes a bad recommendation and thereby lose their ‘cred’ status – is creating a situation whereby the ‘buzz’ that is generated around any act, band or cause they choose to champion is subject to a backlash that is getting swifter and swifter. This is happening to the point that their authority on any subject is being eroded, and the drift away from traditional sources of opinion or recommendation is getting more and more pronounced. It will soon be the case that the merest mention of interest in a band by the NME or Drowned in Sound will send people running in the opposite direction, so badly have the culprits squandered their powers of recommendation. All because they want to be in with the cool crowd. Acceptable in  a schoolyard, less so in the international press. There have been a lot of complimentary things written in the past week about Dizee Rascal, Jay-Z, Lady GaGa and Florence and the Machine. Put yourselves on alert now, let’s track the backlash. Should be arriving in Sunday’s papers.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The inevitable ‘don’t know what to write’ post

  1. Yes, the groupthink and herd instinct of mainstream columnists is something I’ve ranted about before. I’m half-convinced that far too many mainstream critics aren’t that interested in the actual music at all, which is why they constantly big up quite mediocre acts.

    I wonder if the same thing is reproduced on a smaller scale in things like the prog fan community, which is very small and very incestuous, and heavily networked.

  2. It’s hard to know what to make of it. My initial feeling was one of ‘them and us’, in which I poured scorn on critics and reviewers for being out of touch and so mainstream that they’ve lost all respect and love for the music they claim to serve. Since then I’ve had a few ‘under the table’ dialogues with a couple of hacks who actually seem to have quite enthusiastic feelings about a range of music, but are very restricted in what they are allowed to write about. Restricted from above, through the editorial policies of the papers they write for. I’ve had hints, no more than hints, that there is cash changing hands up top, in the form of advertising revenue. The over-riding impression I get is that the journos themselves are as disillusioned with their own sinking industry as we in the music bizz are with ours. Looks like the same forces/people are forcing the same short-termist Valhalla approach to the print media as they are to reproduced music. Lawd save us all! I do believe that a brighter phoenix will rise from the flames of either pyre, but I hope we’re all still here when it happens and haven’t pitched in too early. I worry about that quite a bit.

  3. I don’t doubt for a moment that review policy is determined by who buys a lot of advertising – and this determines not just who does and doesn’t get reviewed but who gets favourable reviews and who gets hatchet jobs.

    On the other hand, I’ve come to recognise through writing fan reviews on my own website that knowing some band members personally makes it very difficult if not impossible to remain objective, no matter how hard I try.

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