the usefulness of disliking music, as a writer or as a listener etc.

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

I don't mean the kneejerk "ugh this is awful" that means you'll simply avoid something, but the conscious "this isn't what I'm looking for in music, although it's in a similar genre or style, and fails for me on those terms" type hating

like, i think p much everyone on ilx uses this to some degree, because part of what defines the music you gravitate to is the music you avoid, esp in a time saturated with media channels, and as we get older & the internet starts to play more of a presence in where we discover music

like, as an example specific to me, main attrakionz were EVERYWHERE in certain online channels that I read, but their music never really did it for me. I don't have a problem w/ them existing, nor do I think their music is actively abrasive or unlikeable, it's just kind of there, and after continually seeing them mentioned i start to just dislike them actively, on the basis that it's stuff that doesn't really stand up to scrutiny -- scrutiny they wouldn't have if it didn't seem like they were getting lots of attention in whatever channels I happen to be looking at

you can say "well look in different channels" but there's also something of a media-herd mentality; i mean, everywhere from Vibe to Complex to Fader to Pitchfork covers / discusses the phenomenon of ASAP Rocky. I like a few AR songs but found a pretty big discrepency between his work & the constant mentions of him online, and so i found myself beginning to dislike the weaker tracks even more, to find them more objectionable

a flip of this is freddie gibbs, who i've long found dry & somewhat dull, but i thought he did a nice job w/in his limitations; not year-end worthy for me, but it's still a really solid record, and there was a receeding of attention paid to him, it felt easier to review the record on its own terms.

am i being too attuned to the whims of media context? is "hating" (really by this i just mean expressing negative critical opinions about an artist) a reasonable response to this? If not, if I'm just supposed to push the artists I like in a positive way, how does one ever get an idea of the values that i do like unless there is a negative contrast? doesn't too much positivity just come off as PR?

idk something i've been thinking about lately

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 19:52 (nine years ago) link

" was a receeding of attention paid "

sorry for not doing any editing to this before posting it but i hope you'll forgive the the deejesque turns of phrase in here

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 19:53 (nine years ago) link

we've been over this elsewhere but year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality. given that most of what i value in music is at odds with what 90% of current critics value, i see absolutely no point in giving a shit what they like or dislike - after all it's not like they seem to give a shit what i like or dislike! the feeling is mutual.

i would think if i prioritised keeping up with media hype (which, yes, is so PR-driven it actually depresses me a bit), i would swiftly find this a very unfun job.

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:03 (nine years ago) link

year? *yeah

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:04 (nine years ago) link

it sounds like most of what you're defending is more "legitimacy" than "usefulness." and on that front, i totally agree--it bugs the shit out of me when i get accused of being somehow disingenuous or even strategic when i don't like an artist that is super popular in my "channels." i'm not sure i think of those instances as 'useful,' though, if only because i kinda wish i liked everything. if the asap album really did it for me in a way that corresponded with his (internet) popularity, well that would be fucking great because there's another record i like (of course it can't work like that, but from a theoretical standpoint).

smh mang fusion, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:09 (nine years ago) link

i guess the idea is that when you break from the herd mentality you have time and energy to get into some undiscovered shit, and people who do that are obviously really vital to the conversation in general, but (maybe because i'm not an actual critic and don't think of myself as one) i just don't really have that ethic. i like being part of a hivemind.

smh mang fusion, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:14 (nine years ago) link

are Main Attraczions and ASAP Rocky real bands or are you surmounter and this thread is DreamboatGorilla 2011?

rusty flathead screwdriver, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:18 (nine years ago) link

i like being in touching distance of the hivemind but being part of it is entirely antithetical to being a professional critic imo. it really depresses me how a lot of my fellow critics (not talking about anyone here) don't even disguise it. they lap so much PR shit up.

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:19 (nine years ago) link

"year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality"

this wasnt a question I asked dude! its not about being 'attuned' to it -- first off, at a certain level of success (like ASAP's) being aware of it as a name is unavoidable, and considering I'm writing for people for whom it will also soon be unavoidable (i.e. irl people saying "so you like rap ... what do you think of asap rocky??") it becomes a part of the context in which under-appreciated artists i cover are going to be received in. so you can't just divorce it completely from your consciousness, imo.

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:27 (nine years ago) link

ASAP Rocky was Doug Boatgorrilla's guitar tech.

rusty flathead screwdriver, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:29 (nine years ago) link

An even-handed article imho is some 90% observation/relevant anecdotes/good writing/insight and 10% opinion. Whether or not you like the thing/artist need not be the focus, I guess?

oPal, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:34 (nine years ago) link

That doesn't wash for me. 10% of what? If I spend one line saying "this act is wack bullshit" in a 500 word piece, thats still a fairly powerful part of the argument i'm probably making overall, right? It doesn't really break down into numbers like that

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:48 (nine years ago) link

i have a bunch of sorta disconnected thoughts on this, but i dont think useful is really the right word, and i think its probably often a lot less abt the music than abt sorta positioning yourself, the stuff you care abt, 'in the marketplace' or w/e? i think this is probably p worthwhile if done intelligently simply because it does play a big part in how music is received. at the same time i think its easy to get backed into a corner where youre over exaggerating both yr own feelings towards a record and the importance/prevalence of the 'counternarrative'.

like: i thought laurel halo's 'hour logic' was ok to mediocre, but i liked a bunch of other things she did this year more its annoying to see 'hour logic' get press/eoy love instead of stuff i think is superior. but its not really impt, and i dont have anything interesting to say abt why 'hour logic' is inferior so i just rmde and move on. otoh i think the attention and thought put towards 'science of the sea' is shameful and have a bunch of (imo) thoughtful problems w/ how it gets written abt instead of like jana winderen's 'energy field' record or w/e

i guess my point is that you have to distinguish btw cases - youre always going to out of step w/ what you perceive to be the dominant narrative - and its only 'useful' if you have a case to make for yr own take. also most of the time i kinda check myself cuz 99% of the world - even limited to the world of ppl reading abt music online - dgaf abt any of these records

є(٥_ ٥)э, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:51 (nine years ago) link

you can say "well look in different channels" but there's also something of a media-herd mentality; i mean, everywhere from Vibe to Complex to Fader to Pitchfork covers / discusses the phenomenon of ASAP Rocky. I like a few AR songs but found a pretty big discrepency between his work & the constant mentions of him online, and so i found myself beginning to dislike the weaker tracks even more, to find them more objectionable

as a dude who writes abt hiphop for p4k could you not, oh i dunno, stick up yr hand and say 'lets talk abt someone else'? this isn't supposed to be a dickish question btw.

big popppa hoy, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 21:54 (nine years ago) link

well, if other people are interested in talking about it thats kind of a moot point

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:11 (nine years ago) link

yeah i thought our job as music critics was to lead the conversation, not follow?

xp

successfully lobbying to cover interesting acts that the "media herd mentality" completely ignore is one of the best bits of my job tbh.

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:15 (nine years ago) link

what the fuck are you guys arguing with? I lobbied successfully to get reviews in pfork of young bleed & max b which i'm sure a total of 7 people read. stop pretending you're arguing w/ someone who doesn't 'get' what you're about

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:22 (nine years ago) link

successfully lobbying to cover interesting acts that the "media herd mentality" completely ignore is one of the best bits of my job tbh.

i feel like this thread isnt really abt that, its more abt subtle shifts in the conversations yr already a part of and not yr tedious 'omg wtf doesnt pitchfork cover british rnb singers' steez

є(٥_ ٥)э, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:32 (nine years ago) link

basically lamp i agree w/ those paras, w/ the caveat that i basically bracket all of my music nerdery to an 'obviously this is all irrelevant in the grand scheme of life but i've chosen to obsess about it so i might as well enjoy pretending that it's all life or death' category, in order to keep from having to "well, nobody really cares about this stuff anyway" every time

I do, though, think i used "usefulness" for a reason, as a sort of reaction to the sense of overwhelming amts of content out there to try & process. Like, if I can just dismiss stuff that I'm only sorta so-so on as outright-terrible, then I don't have to waste time turning over in my head just how 'so-so' it is, and what would make it better / worse. Instead, average becomes terrible bcuz i can't afford the time

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:45 (nine years ago) link

i think for me at least the big problem is that most stuff is just sorta ok or not that good or just alright or w/e and its... tempting, i guess, to make yr position more compelling/clear by amplifying yr feelings abt a song/album in order to be more clearly heard and understood

also i think its just - nuanced 'this is really not all the great for reasons x, y, z' that still acknowledges what other ppl hear in something doesnt make for a great counternarrative and so its like 'oh this is garbage and yr trash if you like it' is just lazy/easier. but both can useful depending on theyre articulated, i think!

the final thing i was thinking is that 'talking abt' doesnt always mean 'loving'. i liked the main attrakionz mixtape a lot but im certainly aware it has flaws. i think the thing that makes its useful is having insight into what those flaws are, how theyre affecting the work/its reception/why they might get ignored. idk...

є(٥_ ٥)э, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 23:11 (nine years ago) link

"Like, if I can just dismiss stuff that I'm only sorta so-so on as outright-terrible, then I don't have to waste time turning over in my head just how 'so-so' it is, and what would make it better / worse. Instead, average becomes terrible bcuz i can't afford the time"

Couldn't this work adversely as well though? Like throwing weight at something so-so and it becomes amazing because its not being covered by the hive?

Scotty Magee, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 23:37 (nine years ago) link

well, i'm advocating a 'never settle' approach rather than a 'push it one way or the other' one. so if you're feeling a bit ehh about it, forget it, not worth it.

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 00:04 (nine years ago) link

xps to lamp, 2 points,

on your 2nd para, i agree its important to keep perspective, that main attrakionz are still fundamentally less objectionable to me than mac miller ever will be, for ex; but at a certain point, it's like, why even bother differentiating between 'this is unlikeable and inexcusable, this is likeable but i'll never listen to it' -- because the end result for me is that i listen to main attrakionz as much as i listen to mac miller

like, at some level, calling something 'trash' is almost for my own sanity as much as anything else

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 00:06 (nine years ago) link

Lamp liking your work in this thread.

we've been over this elsewhere but year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality. given that most of what i value in music is at odds with what 90% of current critics value, i see absolutely no point in giving a shit what they like or dislike - after all it's not like they seem to give a shit what i like or dislike! the feeling is mutual.

lex you know I love you but you of all people saying this is just O_O

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 01:29 (nine years ago) link

also i think its just - nuanced 'this is really not all the great for reasons x, y, z' that still acknowledges what other ppl hear in something doesnt make for a great counternarrative and so its like 'oh this is garbage and yr trash if you like it' is just lazy/easier. but both can useful depending on theyre articulated, i think

Depends on the critic and the album. Sometimes for me it's a relief to dismiss something obviously execrable in a couple of pungent sentences -- and it's not lazy to construct a memorable dismissal!

The danger of ambivalence is writing a sort of linguistic blankness in which opinions and descriptions don't cohere into a judgment. Lately this happens more when I write about movies. I haven't liked many this season, and even the good ones require me to qualify the praise. It's not just a matter of Doing Them Justice; it's sorting out my complicated responses, which, of course, can't be reduced to thumbs up or down.

Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 01:34 (nine years ago) link

i kind of feel like a healthy amount of closed-mindedness can be useful for figuring out what music to listen to, out of all the goddamn music to choose from these days. even aside of herd-like SHEEPLE mentalities of a lot of critics/publications, i kinda feel like a lot of folks just listen to what's out there and shrug "yeah this is kind of for me" instead of trying to really isolate what speaks to them personally in music and pursuing that. like, i have really strong opinions about how rhythm and percussion are used in all genres of music and kind of use that as a big part of my barometer of what i listen to or choose to kind of pass on, and i probably justifiably take some ribbing around here for that but in this wack beat bands with no drums world we live in i may as well make a stand for what i believe in.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 02:26 (nine years ago) link

Overall, ILM (whatever its manifold faults) hardly dismisses the importance of rhythm and percussion. (Though if you insist on real drummers in every type of music then that would be another matter.)

Occidental Rudipherous, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 02:39 (nine years ago) link

i wasn't putting myself in opposition to ILM (although people around here kind of define themselves by the low bar of "i know/care more about rhythm than gier")

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 02:45 (nine years ago) link

Depends on the critic and the album. Sometimes for me it's a relief to dismiss something obviously execrable in a couple of pungent sentences -- and it's not lazy to construct a memorable dismissal!

yeah sure, its more just taking something youre lukewarm towards either way and exaggerating either way for sake of making a statement or differentiating yrself from consensus or w/e

@some dude - i think having a specific lens through which you view music is helpful but theres still stuff thats going to get 'shaped' by the critical dialogue in ways you might only partially agree w/

є(٥_ ٥)э, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:14 (nine years ago) link

that...is kind of phrased in a way that is empirical and correct and impossible to disagree with but i also have no idea how it actually relates to or contradicts what i was saying

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:25 (nine years ago) link

i guess my philosophy to consuming music press/criticism is very "don't believe everything you read" -- i take other people's word for it that their opinions are generally presented honestly and are based at least somewhat on the reality of the music they are writing about, but i also know that they don't have my ears and that i may or may not care about how their ears hear things or whether they've learned or trained themselves to hear the things i listen for.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:28 (nine years ago) link

Lamp w/r/t exaggerating your reaction, I kind of see it less as an exaggeration and more of an eventual buildup, where the overwhelming same-ness becomes increasingly aggravating - so its more a coping mechanism, not about "trying to be difft" or w/e

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:53 (nine years ago) link

i tend not to feel much desire to play up my antipathy for something that i just kind of know isn't for me -- if it's just constantly in my face every day like drake songs on the radio then i naturally come around to a stronger negative reaction, whereas something like a$ap rocky where i feel indifferent to a couple of youtube plays and just see the name thrown around a lot but don't have much occasion or need to contend with the music further and let it grow on me (or let my dislike grow stronger) i'm kinda fine just not giving a shit either way.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:57 (nine years ago) link

well deejs intial qn seemed to be abt the value of writing negative criticism of stuff that you only sorta or weakly dislike solely or at least largely to provide a tonic to the dominant viewpoint 'out there' atm and like, ok you have your ears but i have to assume that theres still times where you dont feel strongly one way or the other about s.thing and you kinda made it seem like you have just this strict pass/fail system idk mb you do

so my point is like its great to have this personal framework through which yr analyzing stuff but it doesnt innoculate you from this problem, you still have to deal with having stuff placed in context in other ppls opinions

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:58 (nine years ago) link

Yah sure I dont disagree with that

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:59 (nine years ago) link

@al, if anything, radio play makes me more positively inclined to like something I was lukewarm on. (until burnout) but thats not a rule or anything

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:01 (nine years ago) link

xps @deej: sure, totally, i mean i think everyone (or at least ive) had that xp where the first time you read abt how great X is its like, hmmmm idk, i didnt think it was so great. and then by the tenth fawning feature X is like the worst crime against music imaginable or w/e. i guess that feeling/xp was implied in using 'cornerned' you can get surrounded by this kind of stuff and mb start to overemphasize it idk

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:01 (nine years ago) link

so my point is like its great to have this personal framework through which yr analyzing stuff but it doesnt innoculate you from this problem, you still have to deal with having stuff placed in context in other ppls opinions

wait what is the "problem" that i'm insufficiently sheltered from like a child out in the cold? the horrifying unshakable reality that other people don't share my opinions?

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:03 (nine years ago) link

well sure radio play can help bring me around on stuff -- i mean i can name several drake songs that i do enjoy on some level, even if he's usually not the best thing about them or i can chalk it up to stockholm syndrome, fact remains that i do understand the appeal and know which songs actually are ok as far as i'm concerned

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:05 (nine years ago) link

thats a weird way to read that post!!! (xp)

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:07 (nine years ago) link

sorry but i mean...yes i realize that sticking to your guns and believing in your ears is not the same thing as creating your own reality that exists in a vacuum. that seems totally ok and not contradictory afaict?

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:11 (nine years ago) link

::shrugs:: theres no contradiction, its more that you didnt really seem to addressing the threads general qn except to say its not a problem for you, which for enough

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:32 (nine years ago) link

yeah admittedly i came along to this thread pretty late and there was a lot that i haven't fully digested or considered

but to go back to one of deej's questions in the op:

If not, if I'm just supposed to push the artists I like in a positive way, how does one ever get an idea of the values that i do like unless there is a negative contrast? doesn't too much positivity just come off as PR?

i think it's great to be able to write lots of positive AND negative reviews to represent the full spectrum of your likes and dislikes, but ultimately shouldn't those reviews stand on their own and make sense to people whether they've read you before or not? obviously someone who's enthusiastic about EVERYTHING comes off like a shill but it seems besides the point or counterproductive to find opportunities to go negative just to avoid that.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:40 (nine years ago) link

i mean in these belt-tightening times there ARE publications with limited space sometimes do day "let's dedicate what few reviews we can run to spotlighting good stuff and not panning and attacking things" and i know for some critics that seems like the most craven unethical thing in the world but in most cases i'm fine with that -- i would rather exhaust every opportunity to write about the things i like AND THEN find the time to diss some shit

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:43 (nine years ago) link

sometimes do say

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:43 (nine years ago) link

You know I find it really depressing that someone would spend energy writing a negative review of anything. There's so much beauty in the world to focus on.

Todd

realness, just realness, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:48 (nine years ago) link

Thttp://dl.dropbox.com/u/9627011/photos/cool.gifdd feels awful familiar

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:54 (nine years ago) link

well the thing that im... i guess interested in is the space btw outright love and hate and the way my own sense of the dominant narrative can start to push my opinion, w/o my willing it, towards one of those two poles. certainly the way i think/write/analyze music is a lot less formal than yours, but i think i do have a strong pov as well and i find myself in the place deej writes abt often enough for it to be p familiar.

most of the time im not going to get paid to write abt stuff i dont care abt and i dont have the time (lol) or the energy to write abt stuff that im not super passionate abt but i do think there should be space if you want to explore places where you dont agree w/ the way the larger conversation is shaping up. like rn just running through the eoy thread im a little queasy w/ how '2011' is being presented... idk this is all so scattered, and thats a bigger qn than just 'is meek mills sorta overrated' or w/e

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 05:10 (nine years ago) link

sometimes i like comparing albums i like w/ similar albums that i think try (and fail) to do similar things. so disliking stuff as a function of liking stuff.

Mordy, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 05:31 (nine years ago) link

I'm a fairly compartmentalised thinker I suspect, so I tend even on a shorthand emotional level to distinguish between the build-up of aggravating writing about something I find lukewarm and the fact of the music being lukewarm.

Maybe this is different for other people, but for me the intermingling doesn't occur in my head but on the page, or more specifically in the heads of "readers" (i.e. actual readers, friends, ILM posters): it's difficult for people who really like a piece of music to even perceive, let alone appreciate, that distinction, it's all received as an out-and-out attack on the music's quality.

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 05:32 (nine years ago) link

like, might as well complain that you die one day. boy that sucks!!

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:07 (nine years ago) link

what is who supposed to do about it, Lex? Lex can't do anything about. rennavate can't do anything about it either, but maybe he should stop making denying reality.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:08 (nine years ago) link

making

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:08 (nine years ago) link

I think the general point (writing about music for free lowers economic value of music writing) is correct but I don't know that it's as clear-cut as that suggests either, primarily because free music writing and paid music writing are not identical in content or medium.

This is where the poor-quality free MP3 versus CD analogy doesn't quite work - that's more like reading a newspaper online for free online but with annoying pop-ups versus paying for a print version.

Certainly some blogs and non-remunerative publications aspire to be precisely as tedious and narrow-minded as their remunerative counterparts, but beyond those, "free" music writing is part of a broad continuum of non-journalistic writing that includes people posting on ILX. In some senses, ILX competes directly for its readers' attention with paid publications: rather than read an article about Amy Winehouse's life we might read the ILM RIP thread instead.

Would we propose, therefore, that the existence of the latter is a negative historical development?

Lex raising the issue of dabblers in my profession (law) and how I would feel about them was kind of useful in this regard: it doesn't actually happen in Australia (and I assume this goes for the UK as well) because the admission and compliance requirements involved in being a lawyer are far too onerous for anyone ever just to "dabble" in it, except as a career-withdrawal strategy (i.e. after they've done it full-time for a long time).

This has the effect of helping to protect standards, but it's also criticised for reducing competition, making the industry hidebound, conservative, and effectively turning the legal industry into a partially closed shop (especially at the Bar).

Imagine a universe where all music journalism (in the broadest sense) had similar professional standards regulations: where you could be sued for offering a written opinion on a record without holding the appropriate qualifications and a licence to write through a paying publication. What would the effect of this be? I expect it would mean that:

(a) publications could charge a lot more while still commanding an audience;
(b) journalists would be paid better;
(c) standards of writing would be higher in many senses, particularly technical standards;
(d) breaking into the industry would be harder;
(e) the writing and opinions would by and large be more conservative, slow to change and divorced from public opinion; and
(f) the diversity of writing and opinion would be constrained.

Some of the above effects would be positive, some negative - as is typical in respect of issues of industry regulation.

Whatever the arrangement, there will be good and bad writers and good and bad lawyers.

Tim F, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:36 (nine years ago) link

Obviously no-one is actually proposing the above ITT, I'm just using it as an illustrative example of the kind of tensions that surround the issue of music writing's creep beyond the boundaries of professional journalism.

Tim F, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:38 (nine years ago) link

Every time you talk with your friends about music, you are stealing from professional music critics.

Occidental Rudipherous, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:42 (nine years ago) link

(a) publications could charge a lot more while still commanding an audience;
(b) journalists would be paid better;
(c) standards of writing would be higher in many senses, particularly technical standards;
(d) breaking into the industry would be harder;
(e) the writing and opinions would by and large be more conservative, slow to change and divorced from public opinion; and
(f) the diversity of writing and opinion would be constrained.

all of these things were true for journalism prior to the internet, sans "regulations"

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:42 (nine years ago) link

Well yeah exactly.

Tim F, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:44 (nine years ago) link

I will keep in mind that, when I publish essays and reviews on my blog because I don't publish enough freelance stuff anymore for a number of reasons, I'm contributing to the corruption of professional criticism.

Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:46 (nine years ago) link

lol I'm not telling anybody not to write or whatever. everybody do everything!

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:47 (nine years ago) link

what about comparing it with musicians? i got picked up to do paid work because i did a bunch of free work first. its the same as rappers w/ mixtapes. i'm sure there are rappers who think, if yall werent giving this away for free, we could all bank off of it, but its just the way the industry is now; you have to churn out a lot MORE content bcuz of the internet, so you have to make your ideas go a lot further

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:59 (nine years ago) link

At this stage, complaining about people writing for free is pointless.

But it has become a vicious circle. Of course, the obvious way for paid-media to fight the hobbyists is to make their coverage better. But the proliferation of free media has shattered the audience, slashed paid circulations, destroyed advertising bases. The need to bring in revenue means chasing what circulation there is, and that leads a great many editors to commission what they believe will bring in casual readers - hence the endless puff interviews. That's not so much of a problem when you have the pagination to run the good stuff as well (I remember Graydon Carter justifying the awful VF cover stories by saying that's what bought him the right to run the long pieces about Afghanistan or Wall Street), but now that - especially in newspapers - pagination is getting pegged back, we're in a world where if you have two music pieces a week, you'd be a fool to make one of them Lex on underground women rappers in the UK. You want Coldplay and Kylie. And publications are going to start appointing editors who give them that, rather than editors who have a genuine interest in going off the beaten track.

Free writers are only one tiny part of that, of course. They're only one tiny part of how the internet has ravaged mainstream journalism. And, really, in terms of the massive decline of the past three years, the effects of the crash outweigh the effects of the internet.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 11:08 (nine years ago) link

I like hype, even when the debates are lame and the bands are terrible and the personalities involved are all loathsome there's something entertaining about watching people getting involved in arguments with one another or just watching these ludicrous made-up genres dropping off the production line. The context can be more fun than the music sometimes.

It's probably the same reason why I'm more likely to watch a turgid game between two frumpy midtable football clubs in the league I follow rather than a potentially amazing televised game taking place in a country whose league I don't follow, it's nice to have the oxygen of some kind of debate/story/soap opera.

Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011 11:48 (nine years ago) link

for the most part I actually DO hear music in a vacuum, or in my own contexts

Do you go to clubs? If you go out dancing and the DJ's playing a load of records and you like a lot of them, are you doing so in a vacuum? The DJ isn't insulated from the discourse and neither are the dancers.

Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:00 (nine years ago) link

Do you go to clubs? If you go out dancing and the DJ's playing a load of records and you like a lot of them, are you doing so in a vacuum? The DJ isn't insulated from the discourse and neither are the dancers.

― Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011

Perhaps what I mean here is, for the most part I have no preconceptions about most records I hear or buy because I don't know what they are until after I have heard them. I haven't read anything and no one has talked about them to me - and sometimes I have read or heard something about a record, but only become aware its the same record after I have heard about it and found out what it was

This technically might not be a vacuum but it is hearing something without amy idea who it is by

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:34 (nine years ago) link

I know that is also a context - but...not in the context of this thread (written stuff, and discussed stuff)

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:39 (nine years ago) link

"What do you think of X?"

"No idea never heard of it"

"Its just finishing now"

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:42 (nine years ago) link

Yeah I suppose so, was more pointing out that critical circles/debates can seep through even when you aren't paying attention to them.

Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:43 (nine years ago) link

This was actually my point upthread!

I've never heard Drake or Metronomy but I know all about them.

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:50 (nine years ago) link

and I've certainly never paid any attention to anything said about either

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:50 (nine years ago) link

tbh it seems pretty logical people are not paid simply for offering their opinion about a record...it isn't actually worth anything

not least when you can read here or a friend's facebook post or a blog.

a lot of the papers or mags have this stink of catering to the diminishing and increasingly alien (at least to me and everyone I know) pool of people who still need them.

ItHappens otm basically...but how bad a thing is this anyway?

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Friday, 9 December 2011 13:27 (nine years ago) link

Well, as an employee of paid-media, I do fervently believe that writers with years of experience, well developed research and writing skills, good contacts, an understanding of context, the knowledge of how to connect with an audience and the ability to bring those things together in one article are more likely to provide a piece of reading that entertains and informs than someone sharing their thoughts from their bedroom.

I think album reviews, these days, are little more than a sop, something for advertisers to place ads against. But the money that they bring in is what pays for the time and effort and good writer can put into a worthwhile piece. Someone writing for free likely can't devote several days to chasing down the interviews and researching the best possible story.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:26 (nine years ago) link

No offense, but "someone sharing their thoughts from their bedroom" reminds of Brian Williams getting miffed at bloggers "in their bathrobes" scooping him. It's such a stereotype.

Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:36 (nine years ago) link

I pretty much refuse to do interviews b/c I more times than not I end up getting annoyed with the artist for doing the above plus sounding like dog latin.

― Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:11 (Yesterday) Bookmark Permalink

Haha, I get the feeling I'm the only one who read that and didn't have a clue what Tim was referring to...

dog latin, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:38 (nine years ago) link

yeah that's really offensive, i have NEVER scooped brian williams (xpost)

Mr. Stevenson #2, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:43 (nine years ago) link

xpost Using exaggeration to make a point. If bloggers genuinely scoop paid journalism, then fair play to them. And often they do - not having the turning circle of a supertanker means they usually are first on to new things. What's more, only a fool would delude themselves into thinking that someone who gets paid for writing is ipso facto a better writer than someone who doesn't. But I think the point about being able to do in-depth journalism without financial resources behind them holds as true for good music writing as it does for traditional news writing v citizen journalism. Even Pitchfork hasn't truly been able to do that - its core is still reviews and thinkpieces. They haven't exactly thrown themselves into reported pieces. When the best bloggers are able to monetise (errgh) their relationship with their readers to such an extent that they can do whatever they want is the day that traditional paid-media music journalism really dies.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 16:00 (nine years ago) link

also, while i do think quality of thinking/writing about music (sticking to reviews & thinkpieces rather than investigative story-finding) doesn't correlate to paid/unpaid writers...the best unpaid ones should absolutely be paid! so many excellent writers have moved from unpaid blogging to paid journalism over the past 10 years. (and without the motivational force of being paid, a lot of excellent writers tend to fall out of the game, consistently not find time for it etc.)

um idk where i was going with that i typed it kinda piecemeal, i think the short version is "yes, duh, good music writers should be paid"

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Friday, 9 December 2011 16:15 (nine years ago) link

Big Society Music Journalism

dog latin, Friday, 9 December 2011 16:18 (nine years ago) link

I think album reviews, these days, are little more than a sop, something for advertisers to place ads against. But the money that they bring in is what pays for the time and effort and good writer can put into a worthwhile piece. Someone writing for free likely can't devote several days to chasing down the interviews and researching the best possible story.

― ItHappens, Friday, December 9, 2011 9:26 AM (3 hours ago) Bookmark Permalink

lets not pretend it was better prior to the internet. i honestly thought 99% of music writing was awful; it was the internet that helped me find writers who i felt were actually talking about things in a way i could relate to

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:46 (nine years ago) link

I C+P'd the wrong thing i think. oh well

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:46 (nine years ago) link

It also helps that nowadays a music blogger doesn't have to describe the music very well: they can just give you a link and you can listen to it for yourself.

o. nate, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:50 (nine years ago) link

xpost - Wouldn't disagree with that at all. I'm not sticking up for puff interviews and crap "humour" and cursory album reviews. Just for the things that paid media does do better - which is give time and resources.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 23:33 (nine years ago) link

lets not pretend it was better prior to the internet. i honestly thought 99% of music writing was awful; it was the internet that helped me find writers who i felt were actually talking about things in a way i could relate to

implication here is that you actually think music writing is better (ie, less than 99% awful) on the internet...? this is baffling.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 23:38 (nine years ago) link

i think he means there's more good stuff and/or the good stuff is easier to find, even if the overall percentage of good stuff is lower....which is almost undeniably true for MOST mediums and artforms post-internet

some dude (Mr. Stevenson #2), Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:01 (nine years ago) link

bingo

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:06 (nine years ago) link

I agree 100% and it links up nicely with my answer to the thread premise. With so much content to choose from, it can be easier to zero in on specific stuff you like (popular or whatever) and not feel like yr "missing out" by not engaging with the charts or whatever because you've got too much other stuff to check out that you're more likely to enjoy. It's different for critics, maybe, (I'm not one) in that they have more of an obligation to engage with the charts.. Maybe obligation is too strong a word, I just mean to some extent it's part of the job description, right?

moonbop, Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:53 (nine years ago) link

Anyway, as a listener, being more "demanding" of music has been good for me, I guess. Life is short.

moonbop, Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:54 (nine years ago) link

It also helps that nowadays a music blogger doesn't have to describe the music very well: they can just give you a link and you can listen to it for yourself.

yeah i'm in agreement with deej that 7 or so years ago, the best music writing was to be found online, but these days that's only rarely the case tbh

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:09 (nine years ago) link

disagree with that...but i'd say nowadays the best music writing isn't formalised, it's discussion. like here. everyone has a piece.

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:41 (nine years ago) link

yes we fucking get it already ronan, you despise music criticism and think it's a completely worthless profession. now stfu

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:55 (nine years ago) link

is there someone with you as you post?

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:58 (nine years ago) link

yeah i'm in agreement with deej that 7 or so years ago, the best music writing was to be found online, but these days that's only rarely the case tbh

Do you mean online as in unpaid lex? I'm not being pedantic as in "The Guardian is online too you know" - more that there's a fair amount of criticism which is both paid but also obviously "online" writing with varying degrees of similarity to the print media version.

My favourite piece of music writing in the last few years is probably Tom's column here:

http://pitchfork.com/features/poptimist/7848-poptimist-32/

Which is sorta in the halfway camp of being music writing that is paid, but probably also couldn't exist except in a post-blog world - not only literally in the sense that Tom was and partly remains an unpaid online music writer (and one of the best or even the best, IMO), but more in the sense of speaking to and and from and about and in the style of online free music writing and discussion, such that it seems like a really happy accident that there's a payment for the writer out of it.

There's no necessary distinction between Poptimist and Popular, beyond the fact that:

(a) one is paid and one is not; and

(b) Popular has an amazing post-publication collaborative culture of elucidation amongst (many of) its readers (which I've always admired from the sidelines), something which theoretically could happen with a paid gig but I've not seen any examples of.

But then Tom is pretty much the ideal of the online dabbler, so is hardly representative as such.

Tim F, Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:43 (nine years ago) link

Tom is an exceptional case: what separates him from the vast majority of self-publishers is that paying publishers also want to publish him. I strongly suspect in the pre-internet age he'd have been one of those people who did occasional essayism alongside a day job. The internet just meant he didn't have to hustle for the chance to write those essays - people came to him.

ItHappens, Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:58 (nine years ago) link

well yeah i meant unpaid, or not "professional" or whatever. (please don't be pedantic with that terminology, i'm hungover.) there's no substantive difference between those and tom's guardian column either.

for all that lots of professional outlets are trying to replicate it, i can't see them ever matching that culture of community discussion - it's a fundamental structural problem, most commenters on the guardian seem to take a ronanesque YOU'RE ALL SHIT AND SO IS THIS MUSIC line as their default starting point

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:59 (nine years ago) link

i'm making points i believe in, which are not actually targeted at you at all, but i suppose you enjoy roaring at people online so go ahead, i wouldn't worry about how it makes you appear.

anyway i think with online newspaper articles conceptually it all feels a bit odd now, it's a pretty awkward position for the writer to be in to have to write simultaneously for an audience that knows nothing about what you're talking about and one that may know anything/everything and wants to criticise the paper for being out of touch, the internet makes potential next door neighbours of everyone.

i suppose there are ways around this, but it's not easy. i think newer websites have this problem too, resident advisor obviously.

at a certain point though i just question the need for a central voice...if it's just attempting to speak to a group of people who are too disparate.

largely though i think the culture of discussion that exists away from the paid or trad outlets is better, it's stronger and it's worth more and above all you don't have to do the job for a living to be part of it.

none of which i think is negative at all on my part...it's actually just good that there's a democracy there now in my opinion.

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:17 (nine years ago) link

xpost

Yeah I wasn't trying to nitpick! I think it's interesting to try and place stuff like Tom's work (in its multiple guises) within this discussion.

Mark Sinker and Frank Kogan are immediate further examples of writers whose work it seems to me both can work very well in the context of "ordinary" (post)print journalism but also exceeds beyond the boundaries of what it can allow.

For Frank this was in part solved in the pre-internet age through his zine. He once kindly sent me a few copies of Why Music Sucks, and they're amazing (and contain their own pre-internet version of the Popular community). That approach obviously has its drawbacks in terms of reach, but they're beautiful artifacts.

It strikes me that the biggest shift from the early 00s to now in terms of online music writing is simply the increased sense of disposability - at the point of reception rather than creation. When I first started reading and writing blogs in 2000 my sense of the approach was that you'd really follow the blogs, read everything in them, read the archives (which usually weren't voluminous in 2000, but anyway) - these were works.

Whereas even the best blogs now feel much more disposable and forgettable, and so does professional media online, because the mode of consumption has changed in line with social media - tweet and facebook links and sharing and the like. I feel that our consumption of online media has grown even less moored to the culture of personality of the creator than it used to be. In fact appropriately the most recent and final Poptimist column is about this in part - Tom talks about how using the internet used to be like diving, whereas the "surfing" metaphor only became apt after Web 2.0.

Increasing disposability at the level of production - MP3 blogs etc - add to this, but I think that shift would have occurred in any event.

So it's not surprising that the unpaid online writing which seems most memorable and valuable in retrospect* often is that which is quite formalistic, or in general has strategies for making of itself an artifact less easily subsumed by its (inherent) internet-virality.

*which is different from what is the most valuable music writing in the moment.

Tim F, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:30 (nine years ago) link

disagree with that...but i'd say nowadays the best music writing isn't formalised, it's discussion. like here. everyone has a piece.

― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011

This presumes there is a 'best fit' with a singular audience. Informal discussion/board type stuff is great yes, but for a particular audience or type of person. You aren't the only kind of audience, what is better for that kind of person, isn't "the best" per se

More formal work is a better fit for different kinds of audiences (possibly most audiences) - obviously if the 'right' writer is being read (often not the case but thats another issue). If my parents, or the people next door, or most of the people in the cafe over the road wanted to read about something - a formal piece in a publication is a better fit for them imo then jumping into forums - which are often really alienating and not particularly helpful especially if you don't know that much about a particular thing.

this is all pretty tangential to the thread now - I think the main thing is, just because a particular thing isn't proving useful to a particular person - it doesn't invalidate its purpose, far from it

april wowak, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:43 (nine years ago) link

it's a pretty awkward position for the writer to be in to have to write simultaneously for an audience that knows nothing about what you're talking about and one that may know anything/everything and wants to criticise the paper for being out of touch

This

dog latin, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:47 (nine years ago) link

Thats exactly the thing - multiple and disparate audiences

april wowak, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:52 (nine years ago) link

xpost i didn't really mean just here specifically or just forums. this place was practically built on the idea that conversations and personal experiences about music are the most important thing tho...and i largely agree with that still.

More formal work is a better fit for different kinds of audiences (possibly most audiences) - obviously if the 'right' writer is being read (often not the case but thats another issue). If my parents, or the people next door, or most of the people in the cafe over the road wanted to read about something - a formal piece in a publication is a better fit for them imo then jumping into forums - which are often really alienating and not particularly helpful especially if you don't know that much about a particular thing.

this is true but it's less and less true all the time, don't you think? it is a huge tangent - how do you measure the usefulness of an opinion or argument anyway? how does a paid site say "we're doing well here"...

online these days it's probably hits, which is another huge tangent.

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:59 (nine years ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.