Rolling Music Writers' Thread

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Maybe 5% of music writing in the first person isn't hacky.

Hoot Smalley, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

On second thought:

Maybe 5% of music writing in the first person isn't hacky.

Hoot Smalley, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:14 (seven years ago) Permalink

o here we are slagging off writers again, that didn't take long at all

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:17 (seven years ago) Permalink

there are different kinds of first-person usage. the kind i can't stand is the showy first-person narrative, where the writer becomes some kind of presence. but there's also just the casual "i" where it can be sensible and unobstrusive. "i love the first two tracks" doesn't seem more objectionable to me than "the first two tracks are great" -- they're both obviously subjective statements of personal preference. but i know some editors who will reflexively remove every "I" from copy, so it's good to know the standards you're writing to.

flying squid attack (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

Just slagging off the hacks. If you'd like to defend bad writing, have at it.

Hoot Smalley, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

My favourite one, (iirc)

"Kirk Brandon formed Theatre of Hate around the same time as I joined the NME. At the time, we were both unknown..."

(Can't remember the writer)

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:20 (seven years ago) Permalink

(many xposts)

I mean, I get into this argument all the time. Generally, I don't CARE about the writer. If the writer was an interesting person, I'd be reading an article on THEM, not the artist I care about. Like wow, the Jesus And Mary Chain helped you get through high school. You and America, buddy.

Generally if a piece of music writing has the word "I" in the first sentence, I usually stop reading, real talk. Save it for your dream journal.

The sad shit is now most mag writing is indistinguishable from internet writing because rates are so low.

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:21 (seven years ago) Permalink

Not that there isn't exceptions blah blah blah strawman lol flame etc

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

What about "I don't know about you but I'm fucking sick of this indie-lite electrodribble that permeates every airwave within earshot"?

dog latin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

Whiney, you do realize you just used the first person yourself five times in two sentences yourself, right?

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:41 (seven years ago) Permalink

I'm posting on a message board, not writing for a paycheck!

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:42 (seven years ago) Permalink

the mark richardson thing about lovely music in stylus is pretty much verbatim all the first person objections ur spoutin btw but imo its top5 great but I suppose its kinda like how it used to be pretty awesome when Buffy had to make some inspirational speech but in the last series she did it every episode and it was really tiresome?

❊❁❄❆❇❃✴❈plaxico❈✴❃❇❆❄❁❊ (I know, right?), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

xp (And I just used "yourself" twice in one sentence, duh.)

Anyway, first person is a tool, like any other tool. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. (As an editor at the Voice, I was frequently known to edit sentences from pitch emails back into submitted reviews in part because the emails did use the first person, and sounded less stiff and stilted and more conversational in the process. I.e., sometimes it helps make for better writing just because that's how people talk. So I've never bought the idea that "writing for a paycheck" required "detaching yourself from the subject.")

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

Again, i'm not saying that it's always bad, but there's not a lot of writers who can pull it off without sounding like My First Fanzine

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:49 (seven years ago) Permalink

"The first time I saw Spoon..."

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:49 (seven years ago) Permalink

So why would print them (unless it was a really good fanzine?)

Still, especially when space on the page is at a premium -- which it was even when wordcounts could get away with being ten times higher than they are now -- wasted words are wasted words, "I" included. (Though at least "I" is a fairly short word.)

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

the mark richardson thing about lovely music in stylus

Think you mean Mike Powell, but Mark Richardson is a good example of someone who uses the first person to excellent effect in his Resonant Frequency column.

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:52 (seven years ago) Permalink

oops yeah

❊❁❄❆❇❃✴❈plaxico❈✴❃❇❆❄❁❊ (I know, right?), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:53 (seven years ago) Permalink

If you can write entertainingly, I forgive your first person narrative.

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:54 (seven years ago) Permalink

xhuxk on point

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

xp "So why would print them?", I meant.

Anyway, bottom line is, no fucking way does the the detached pseudo-objective tone used in most glossies and daily newspapers make for better music writing than what I was printing week in and week out in the Voice for ten years (though sure, a few pieces I published may have sounded "Internetty" or whatever. Point was to have lots of different voices, so it'd be a miracle if anybody approved of all of them. I didn't want to ban Internetty writing -- which can be good too, sometimes -- either.)

On the other hand, I like the creativity with which guys like Sanneh at the Times have managed to get around the limitations against first person and swear words. A smart writer can work within those perimeters, too, and make it entertaining anyway.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

its funny you mention sanneh--his profile of michael savage in the nyer from a couple weeks ago was very careful about not using "i" (which i think is generally a no-go in the nyer, except in the personal essays they publish every once in a while) but still managed to tell a set of interesting stories about sanneh's own encounters w/ savage that sort of hinged on sannehs own specific experiences trying to set up an interview... in the end, though, i thought it would have been a better piece if they had let him use an authorial I

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

wow that got convoluted

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

I thought about that, too.

Over the years, Savage has noticed that his disdain for the mainstream media is widely reciprocated ... So when he received an e-mail from a journalist asking for an interview, he was deeply suspicious. He read the e-mail on the air — he kept the writer anonymous, and didn’t mention that the request came from The New Yorker — and then asked his listeners, “Should I do the interview or not?”…

About a week later, Savage revisited the topic — “my continuing correspondence with a big-shot magazine writer.” He quoted the latest exchanges, along with his tart response, in which he asked, “Why must all of you in the extreme media paint everyone you disagree with as demonic? Why is the homosexual agenda so important to the midstream media?”

...

When he invited the journalist into one of his undisclosed locations, he proved to be a first-rate host, chatty and solicitous. A steady supply of beer refills lubricated the conversation (one of his earliest books was “The Taster’s Guide to Beer,” which was published in 1977), and as the temperature dropped and the sky above Berkeley started to turn orange, he seemed to be working hard to stay suspicious, despite himself. On his next show the next day, a caller asked how the interview had gone, and Savage described his interlocutor: "If I told you he looked like Obama, I wouldn't be far from the truth." Coming from him, this sounded like a deeply twisted compliment.

Sanneh has to resort to speaking of himself in the third person ("the journalist," "his interlocutor") but otherwise does a decent job with passive-ish phrases like "a steady supply of beer refills lubricated the conversation."

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

no i think you're OTM, that NYer piece was convoluted. it read to me like sanneh had a personal 1 on 1 reaction to savage that was quite different than what he expected and the resulting article would have been more effective and immediate using the "I" but the NYer has always employed a certain lofty distance from its subjects, even in the 70s it wasn't really into the personal/new journalism thing. well apart from pauline kael I guess.

but journalists do have to meet readers half-way. my problem with a lot of the vintage village voice stuff is that it's so personal to the point of being impenetrable or off-putting.

m coleman, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:24 (seven years ago) Permalink

the best first person stuff illustrates how the subject of an interview interacts with other people, rather than "setting the scene"

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:25 (seven years ago) Permalink

i'm guessing whiney's not big on fiction as a rule.

strongohulkingtonsghost, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:26 (seven years ago) Permalink

I'm not big on fiction as a rule either, and one of the principles that was drilled into me when I started writing was that first-person is something you have to earn--expecting the reader who's never heard of you before to go along with I-I-I-me-me-me instead of saying "So what?" and moving to the next item is not generally a good idea--but I love first person writing even if (despite whatever reputation I may have for it due to the 33 1/3 book) I don't use it all that often professionally.

Matos W.K., Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:30 (seven years ago) Permalink

matos if you don't mind me asking: you're not big on fiction as a journalistic device or (gasp) you don't like reading novels?

m coleman, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:36 (seven years ago) Permalink

I don't write fiction or about music, but first-person is the default in my area of writing (analytic philosophy). Sometimes we resort to the royal "we" if we're feeling nervous about first-person. But it was made clear to me that third-person is to be avoided, as is passive voice.

deep olives (Euler), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

hang on, you're not big on reading fiction...at all?!

xp!

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

xp I don't buy the "have to earn" thing. I'm not even sure what it means. If I listen to a song sung in the first person, I might be able to relate to, and be moved by, the song even if I'm unaware of the singer's specific biography. Not sure why reviews are necessarily different. You don't have to be a famous writer to have a life that creates a context.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

i thought he meant less that you have to earn it in the sense of being already famous or noteworthy, but in the sense that you have to earn it through your writing--i.e. you have to justify use of the first person in the piece itself, not necc explicitly, but at least in making your "I" of interest to the reader

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

When it's well done - and it does have to be superbly well done, and yes, generally (but not always) "earnt" - first-person music writing is my favourite of all music writing. (And when it's pointlessly done, the reverse holds true.)

For my own part, I avoid it at least 95% of the time - but then I come from a personal-blogging background, and taking "myself" out of the equation was a deliberate, sought objective.

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:40 (seven years ago) Permalink

My first piece at the Voice (when no reader could've had any idea who I was) and a couple soon after were in the first person, fwiw. I seriously doubt they would have improved if the "I"'s had been edited out. (Whether they stunk regardless is another question, but they wouldn't have stunk less.)

Editorial "we" -- first person plural -- bugs the hell out of me no matter what, though. I never buy it, and I've fought editors to keep it out of my own writing (which usually they've been open to).

And btw, I've also edited at Billboard, where first person is almost never allowed. So it's not like I don't know that drill. I just don't like it much.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

Of course, at Billboard, the writing tended to be more news and less review-oriented. (So first person would have probably have made no sense anyway.)

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

And I come from a journalism (and not fancy dancy "new journalism") background too. I came up covering zoning boards and sewage commissions, where objective detachment is strived for. Not saying I don't understand it there, obviously. When I'm defending first person, I'm specifically referring to criticism (though, when it comes to say artist features, I prefer criticism to be part of the deal.)

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

i thought he meant less that you have to earn it in the sense of being already famous or noteworthy, but in the sense that you have to...justify use of the first person in the piece itself, not necc explicitly, but at least in making your "I" of interest to the reader

Well, obviously I buy this, if that's what Michaelangelo means. But in that sense, you need to earn whatever you put in your writing -- so first person's no different from anything else.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:54 (seven years ago) Permalink

I mean I don't read novels almost at all. Gasp!

Matos W.K., Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

xpost: If there's one thing I hate even more than editorial "we", it's the sort of "we" that includes both the writer and his/her presumed readership. ("When did we all fall in love with Kings Of Leon?")

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

haha please tell me you made that KoL quote up Mike

Matos W.K., Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

Really: What do you mean we, kemosabe? (Those ILM threads titled "What Do We Think Of [fill in the blank]?" are almost as bad.)

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

Tbh, reading good first-person music writing is what made me want to write about music. (Or even reading bad first-person music writing: some Pitchfork stuff from around the turn of the century, though hard to read now, at least made me realize that criticism need not be all neutral/detached/objective.)

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:08 (seven years ago) Permalink

(Which, I should add, was mighty refreshing for someone who just wanted to write about his experiences with music and his reactions to listening to certain songs or albums without the burden of serving as some kind of authority.)

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

Avoiding first person is a good technique to get beyond the inherent subjectivity of reviewing music- it pushes the writer to find a common ground with the reader, rather than just reporting their personal reaction. I drop it if I start to get grandiose.

bendy, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:26 (seven years ago) Permalink

lots of reasons here why i generally prefer reading about music on the internet just my personal opinion!

❊❁❄❆❇❃✴❈plaxico❈✴❃❇❆❄❁❊ (I know, right?), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:35 (seven years ago) Permalink

Sanneh has to resort to speaking of himself in the third person ("the journalist," "his interlocutor") but otherwise does a decent job with passive-ish phrases like "a steady supply of beer refills lubricated the conversation."

Re this, exhaustively shat upon by Eric Boehlert.

http://mediamatters.org/columns/200908030038

Related:

http://mediamatters.org/columns/200908110005

Gorge, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 18:09 (seven years ago) Permalink

"Avoiding first person is a good technique to get beyond the inherent subjectivity of reviewing music- it pushes the writer to find a common ground with the reader, rather than just reporting their personal reaction. I drop it if I start to get grandiose."

I think this is one of the root issues but it also points to the fallacy of avoiding first person - the technique assumes that it's the specific use of "I" that makes music writing solipsistic or uncommunicative. It also suggests that that the choice is between solipsism and objectivity (I accept that specific publications may have other reasons for disliking it).

But it's not hard to write a review that avoids using "I" but still reads like the writer has never thought to question their personal reactions, their prejudices, their assumptions.

Learning to adopt a critical perspective w/r/t those things has a lot to do with how you relate to music generally, how you try to convey what the music is actually doing etc. etc.

Kogan is a good example of a writer who puts himself into the story but still makes the music's potential to affect different people differently the star attraction.

Tim F, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 23:33 (seven years ago) Permalink

The tendency to lean toward the first person is usually an indicator of a writer being green but not always of self-obsession. A lot of these throw away 'I thinks', 'I feels', 'as I was saying to x' etc come from a nervousness about stating an opinion without a crutch or without reflexively reminding people that, it's just, like, their opinion, man. All reviews and value judgements are obviously the opinion of the writer. We can tell because it's prefixed with a byline. It's just that if a writer is all apologetic and constantly reminding people that it's all subjective innit, they won't get ripped to shreds on the internet. Or not as much anyway.

But it's a writer's job to be authoritative. In, er, my opinion it is anyway.

It's more acceptable in features but then the reasoning still has to be solid behind it. I've been stabbed during or around three interviews. Once accidentally by a member of a band while we were larking about, once purposefully by a band member during a play fight that got out of hand and once after getting so drunk in an interview I got thrown out of the hotel by security and got stabbed randomly outside.

The first piece was written third person with only passing mention of boisterous high spirits. The incident was unremarkable. Barely drew blood. The second time was pertinent. The guy was a loon and this helped to illustrate that. Some of the piece was written in the first person. It was impossible to write it neatly otherwise. The third incident was ignored and the piece was written in the third person. A good pub story perhaps but nothing to do with the band or the story.

Once I got to an interview with Matt C from The Bronx to find out that we'd both broken our noses the night before. That was kind of on the cusp. Could have been written either way. Just about interesting enough as a jumping off point to be worth including.

As a rule you shouldn't do it unless it's an on the road/reportage piece or you have a unique involvement in the story that no one else has (or at least your readers don't). That said - and I'm twisting Eric Arthur Blair to my own ends on this - I'd break any rule about writing I have rather than write something barbaric.

(And house style rules. If you can't write a piece around I said/we said/Rolling Stone said and still make it readable, maybe you shouldn't be writing. It's fairly straightforward after all.)

Co-sign everything that guy said about a variety of voices on a magazine.

Doran, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 10:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

Re. "authoritative": should music writers attain a certain level of knowledge of music before setting up as arbiters of taste?

smoke weed every day, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 11:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

i've dug some enduring ditches

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 01:07 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I have dug the ditch of my life

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 02:06 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I have measured my ditches with coffee spoons.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 02:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i like this thread.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 07:01 (three weeks ago) Permalink

also "500 words in, like, two hours whenever Beyoncé releases a new video" -- when I wrote music news I fucking wished I had two hours, the expected turnaround is more like 15 minutes

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 08:04 (three weeks ago) Permalink

These are fairly dire times, indeed. Actually, for the last two years it's kinda felt like that, though the rot started setting in 7-8 years ago. We were all born a bit too late, honestly.

Crazy Eddie & Jesus the Kid (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 11:48 (three weeks ago) Permalink

My dream for the near future is that, after I move back to Baltimore in a few months, I can find a better paying day job than the one I have now, and...just kinda pull away from freelance. I mean, I like it. I like reviewing albums, I like discovering new artist, I like all that, but freelance once felt novel and "extra" and supplemental income, and now it's something needed to survive in an era of scraping assignment scarcity, so now it's exhausting and anxiety-inducing more often than not. Don't want to feel dependent on it.
Also, honestly, I'm old and a bit sick of how much of an arms race this game feels like now.

To Scott's point above, I guess: In 5-10 years I'll probably drop freelance to a bare minimum and go back to solo zine-ing.

Crazy Eddie & Jesus the Kid (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 11:59 (three weeks ago) Permalink

the madlibs thing she mentions is basically why i resolved to stop writing reviews regularly, i just started having a more-negative-than-usual relationship with my own work (and only after i made that decision did i figure out how much i'd come to depend on reviews as a regular source of income, lol)

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 12:44 (three weeks ago) Permalink

there is a part of me that thinks its kinda cool if people move on and then younger people take up where they left off. i like the evolution of ideas and opinion.

Agreed. How many opinions can one person hold about music anyway? Surely there comes a point when critics are staging the same arguments they've made countless times elsewhere. And that should be the point when you bail.

Aside from the Wire I rarely read any professional writing about music anymore. It's a shame, I used to hoover up so much stuff, but I just don't find very much inspiring right now. I assume, perhaps wrongly, that people who could write intelligently about music are too intelligent to want to pursue it in the current climate.

Position Position, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 12:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Being let go from the AMG essentially meant the end of regular reviewing on my part -- after almost fifteen years of steady work I had AMG writing down to a science, perhaps to a fault. I tried to treat the standard 300 word review approach as a series of miniatures -- I might not be able to say everything, but I could say a lot, and well, once I was locked into an album. At the same time I recognized my own ('particularly fine') crutches over the moons, and felt a little tired of that particular voice I created. Losing the small but reliable income was a bit of a stretch for the next few months -- private matters but I could have used it during a rough period personally -- but once things stabilized I can't say I missed what had been a bit of a grind. The downside, though, was that I missed essentially being forced to listen to at least ten new albums every couple of weeks if not more -- 'forced' sounding bad, but I ended up hearing a lot of people I wouldn't necessarily have otherwise, and there were always many diamonds in the rough. Now (per my flood comment earlier) the amount of music I regularly receive is even greater, but the time is less and less to hand -- I used to catch up on listening at work at UCI, and while I can do it here as well it's less convenient -- and since I've mostly now settled into feature writing of one form or another thanks to the general changes in the writing market as many have noted, any reviewing as such would have to be on my own account. No bad thing as a mental exercise at all, but honestly it is mostly a mental exercise than a written one, and if something really excites me I would generally rather seek to interview the act in question for a story. (As for larger theoretical ideas or reflections on the state of things, they come as they do.)

(I wrote all that and then note Position's riff on Scott's point re moving on -- I suspect there's an element of that at play too. I've made my general cases, now I'm looking for standout examples, and not necessarily going into my own aesthetic while doing so, though as ever it remains a happy slumgullion, aiming to take in music across the board.)

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 13:01 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I miss reading the Wire. Need to find a relatively close bookstore where I can get it on the regular (or just subscribe, already).

And Ned, I feel a lot of what you're saying. Honestly, I listen to less music with each passing year, and tend to spend the most time with albums that really excite me.

Crazy Eddie & Jesus the Kid (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 13:09 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Here's a contrarian opinion: I love writing about music more than ever and still get paid to do it, and it's a great thrill when a stranger emails or leaves a comment on my blog. I've never pretended the market for rockcrit or filmcrit was larger than a coterie, but unlike the pre-net days, there's always a chance a kid in Poland will disinter a review I've happily forgotten filed in 2004 and write to say it helped her think about Band X – in fact this happened to me last week.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 13:21 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I still get comments on my AMG work in particular, from people who say it really helped them get into a number of bands. I ascribe this to a certain luck on two levels -- the AMG's continued existence, meaning the content is still out there, still heavily linked to via Wikipedia, etc., and that I had a chance, when the site's content was still ramping up in the 1990s, to write about a number of notable acts who already had a certain cachet. I may consider my own efforts to be reflective of whatever time/mindset I was in -- the ones I'm now most ambivalent about would be my Swans pieces -- but generally speaking I stand by the work and people continue to enjoy it. Works for me.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 13:33 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I see things I wrote for Burning Ambulance pop up on Twitter years later - there was a big spike in interest in a John Coltrane piece recently - and it's fun. But lately I'm searching for stories that will allow me to have an interesting experience while writing them. Being sent to Helsinki back in December to cover a jazz festival, for example. A few years earlier I might have said no to that; this time I said yes, and had a fantastic time.

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Violent J (誤訳侮辱), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 13:42 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I just wrote obit pieces for my local weekly on go-go producer Maxx Kidd, and on rockabilly and more guitarist Evan Johns. The Washington Post has not run anything on them, nor have other locally based websites, so my articles are getting shared around a bit.

I write about young living musicians too.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 14:03 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Here's a contrarian opinion: I love writing about music more than ever

wtf

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 14:38 (three weeks ago) Permalink

nerd

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 14:39 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I just write obituaries for musicians who haven't died yet. And then I wait to share them....

scott seward, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 15:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Happy Halloween!

scott seward, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 15:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Sorry if I'm coming across as overly gloomy here. It's not all bad and nightmarish, obviously, and getting to cover Trip Metal Festival for SPIN last year was a career-high thrill. (Also getting to cover Ende Tymes in 2014 for Village Voice.)

Crazy Eddie & Jesus the Kid (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 15:33 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I think I used to have 3 main hopes when writing about music, which for a long time I did about one night a week: that I might connect some music to new listeners, that I might put some music in some interesting context, and that I might demonstrate by example some aspect of how to sustain curiosity and enthusiasm about new music in your own listening life.

It's now my actual day-job to type into a computer in order to try to connect music to new listeners, put music in interesting contexts, and foster curiosity and enthusiasm in listeners directly in their own listening lives. My old column connected thousands of people to hundreds of artists. My job at Spotify helps to connect about 100 million listeners to about a million artists. So that's pretty cool.

There are a few obvious caveats. As a column-writer I was trying to find fans for artists I liked myself. As a programmer, my personal tastes are irrelevant. As a column-writer I was typing prose for people, and now I'm mostly typing code for computers. So if those aspects are integral to you, then the two jobs may not seem related at all. But on the other hand, the pay is better, and where writing reviews actually slowed down my own personal discovery process, working on programmatic music-discovery tools accelerates it.

glenn mcdonald, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 15:56 (three weeks ago) Permalink

*chorus of boos*

an uptempo Pop/Hip Hop mentality (imago), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 15:59 (three weeks ago) Permalink

nerd

― ToddBonzalez (BradNelson),

Description, not criticism.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 16:11 (three weeks ago) Permalink

it's been about five years since I wrote regularly anywhere and in that time I've grappled with feeling a void that writing used to fill and yet also being forced to acknowledge that a not-insubstantial part of my satisfaction with it was derived from having an audience of at least some size, whether that was a daily newspaper or a popular website. hence I haven't been able to motivate myself to start back writing for its own sake even if (essentially) no one was reading. in my current position I can't think of a better strategy than what Alfred has done with his blog, but he's worked damn hard to build an audience/community as well as a voice that distinguishes him from a million other people with a blog. what i'm saying is that if I ever do start writing regularly again it'll probably just look like a knock-off of HtV.

evol j, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 16:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

thanks, evol :)

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 16:46 (three weeks ago) Permalink

yeah, apologies if I am coming off as awfully gloomy; it's just the particular combination of being a quasi-public figure yet still worrying every month how I am going to make rent for the next month, let alone the next several decades of my life that gets to me. which is, of course, my own fault, but recognizing that it's my own fault does not affect conditions on the ground

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 17:04 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I understand, in that sense I feel lucky to have not been in possession of a little more talent and desire than I had, such that might have made it more difficult for me to hang up my cleats and carve out a more stable existence. Writing was never my sole or even primary source of income but I don't think it's a coincidence that I quit in the middle of going back to grad school in serious pursuit of nailing down an actual decent-paying career for the first time in my life. but as I suggested before, not being a quasi-public figure is unfulfilling in its own way too.

evol j, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 18:37 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I think this is pretty much my take, too. I co-set up and wrote for an experimental site for a bit, with a bunch of like-minded people (the Liminal - we had about nine readers, I suspect), which, by the by, ended up with putting on a few local gigs and getting a few bits in Mojo and the Wire - all alongside my hugely unfulfilling day job. I had designs on trying to push it towards something else, but I didn't have the wherewithal, the stubbornness or a thick enough skin for it. I miss the 'public' aspect of it (however small), and the relationships, such as they were, but don't really miss the enforced listening or the drudgery of the pitching/(silent) rejection cycle.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 18:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

update: I was wrong, it got worse

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Thursday, 20 April 2017 17:50 (one week ago) Permalink

holla

SSN Lucci (Whiney G. Weingarten), Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:08 (one week ago) Permalink

Update: I am enjoying writing and don't hate what I have written thus far.

It's easy though, in that I am no getting paid - and I know that cheeses off people in this thread whose livelihoods are diminished somehow because assholes like me will work without a paycheck. and I get that because there was a time I was resentful of writing for free after I established myself to some extent. I actually turned down writing for Magnet because they couldn't pay me when they first started and I was kicking myself when it became a pretty good magazine that wouldn't give me the time of day when I pitched them.

But getting on guest lists and maybe CDs (in my small sample size publicists seem very reluctant to send physical product to the likes of me) will help offset being a music junkie still even as I hurtle towards 50.

And dig this - I missed writing about music. I missed that feeling when I turned a phrase that I liked or made an observation that I thought was unique and informative.

There are negatives such as paying $500 for a real camera as my wife is learning to take photos so we can spend more time together and I don't have to take them. I was up really late writing and now I am tired with two jobs to do today.

But this weekend I (likely) have free tickets to see a two-day festival with a ton of great bands which would have set me back $160 including ticket fees. And last night I hung out with a publicist and "talked shop" and schmoozed a little and it felt like old times.

It's a work in progress but the positives outweigh the negatives thus far.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:24 (one week ago) Permalink

try having my inbox the day after anything I write goes up, see how much you enjoy writing then, or life

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:31 (one week ago) Permalink

You can always quit. I didn't write for six years and somehow survived.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:33 (one week ago) Permalink

it doesn't matter if I quit or not, there is no statute of limitations on this shit, I still get hate mail about stuff I wrote years ago

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:35 (one week ago) Permalink

I can see how that would get frustrating. Possibly you can change your email address.

I know how terrible it can be. I am friends with Kim Kelly who gets shit on constantly. I wouldn't want to deal with the shit she deals with.

Fortunately nobody much cares what I write except my editor, my wife and the publicists. And since I am only doing this because it's fun again, I will have zero problems stopping when it's not.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:40 (one week ago) Permalink


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