“The Internet makes it so that you can be a music journalist,” she says, “and not have to hope and pray that one of five music entities will take you.”
I sent a different version of this email to a reader I’ve been having a debate with and thought it was worth re-posting.
First off, I missed the “Where is the money going” section in the F.A.Q. That’s my mistake. I can’t say I find a lot of those bullet-points valid either (let somebody else pay for your SXSW party so the bands don’t have to play for free, which they will, while you blow 5 grand on a venue and booze*) but I’ll leave that for another time.
Let me try to make this clear. My intent is not to be snobby about this: quite the opposite. What aggravates me is the idea that they’re “doing it differently,” which — to me personally, as someone who’s had a “100% independent” blog for seven years — is insulting to the dozens (hundreds, perhaps) of blogs that have been contributing to online music culture for almost a decade without numerical scores, SEO news posts or corporate agendas. I’m sure their intent as a collective is not to belittle Fluxblog or Said the Gramophone or whoever, but it feels presumptuous to me at best. Most of their list is in fact a critique of Pitchfork, their former benefactor, which strikes me as suspect — and as I’ve noted above, leaves out the rest of the “community,” which goes well beyond 10 or so well-meaning bloggers with a shared love of cassettes and synthesizers.
I’m interested in this enough to keep discussing it as long as people keep bringing it up. It pertains to me as a writer and a fan of indie culture in changing times. I think I’ve been reasonably polite about it. I haven’t made any judgements about the quality of the writing or the value of their work, which I will continue to go ahead and not make.
The beauty of blogs in the early days was that they were not financial enterprises but passion projects, for which no one expected to be compensated for their time. (The change in priority on that is representative of both a generation gap and the commercialization of indie rock.) That meant complete freedom. It’s the way I’ve always tried to run Rawkblog, which has and will never recoup the time investment. I wouldn’t want it to. If they want to earn a living on it, Ad Hoc will either have to bring in advertisers, start a subscription service or keep asking for yearly handouts. All reasonable options! But it’s hardly a D.I.Y. movement if you have to wait to cash a check before you can start.
*Full disclosure: last year, of our seven bands, we were able to pay a headliner. This year, that money will probably go toward a video crew. I am helping throw an SXSW party for the totally selfish reason that it will be the best possible way to get my favorite bands in a room for an afternoon. It’s certainly not for Rawkblog marketing.