*I apologize upfront if this article appears to be somewhat injudicious. I had a great conversation with one of my friends in the band Attention System and essentially this is the end result.
Blame my imaginary editor for grammar errors and lack of cohesion. She works in a remote office with Charlie the Unicorn on Candy Mountain.
Over the past few years there have been major changes in the music business. The music industry will never be what it used to. Nonetheless, in order to gain media exposure, music artists still have to find a way to sort through all the clutter and mess of the Internet and without the old gatekeepers of yesteryear this has become increasingly difficult. These keys have been passed onto new heirs. Now music fans are relying on music blogs to get turned onto new artists and people aren’t purchasing magazines off the rack to see who the next hype is. Blogs have become very important in the new music business and many blog writers are extremely influential.
That’s fine on one hand, but on the other hand, blogs do not have to adhere to the same code of media ethics and journalistic standards that the major media outlets do. Many blogs are started at the grassroots level and may consist of only one of two people operating out of a basement or office cubicle at their real day job. In addition, many music and entertainment journalists are primarily concerned with maintaining their street credibility amongst other writers. Blog journalists have a tendency to push the envelope too far and feel a persistent need to promote music that is avant-garde and very abstract. What happens is at the ground level you have several blogs mirroring the same obscure content. This leaves a major gap between what’s underground and music that actually has the capacity to break through and connect with the mainstream. It appears at times as if nobody, but handpicked corporate creations, are making it above ground because the underground has become too extreme, too isolated and too insular.
But, in all fairness to bloggers, if music blogs have indeed become the defacto gatekeepers of the media industry, they deserve to be compensated for it. Music magazines and radio stations have always made the majority of their revenue from ad sales. An ad agency typically identifies and approaches various media outlets for ad space based on their circulation numbers and target demographics. Megablogs like Pitchfork Media, Stereogum and Gorilla Vs Bear have already established relationships with some of the bigger indie labels; however the vast majority of bloggers have little to no ad revenue and sales. If record labels want to advertise for the artists they feel will connect with the mainstream, they need to pay for it. However, once this happens, music blogs must remain wary of the fact that they now have a readership to maintain and circulation numbers to worry about. Traditionally, if you were or are a blogger, it’s been easy to skirt off fears of having a low readership. It didn’t matter because you were laboring strictly for the love of the subject that you blogged about.
The enormous breach between music that is covered on blogs and what is featured on mainstream radio still exists. If the blogs represent the press side of the mass media spectrum, why is their content not aligning with what is being put in rotation at Clear Channel stations? I feel this answer lies in the concentration of media ownership and reveals that there is an corporate oligopoly within one given media industry that inadvertently relies on a citizen driven media industry. In other words, one side of the mass media spectrum is highly concentrated, commercially driven and vehemently loyal to sponsors. The other side is much more relaxed and free-wheeling, showcasing content based on the love, not sponsorship dollars. It’s the classic case of corporate media versus citizen media. However, I will cover more of this in my next installment, stay tuned.