Rolling Music Writers' Thread

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Since there's no longer (and hardly ever was) an I Love Writing board, and since there are a quite a few pro and amateur hacks here, I thought it might be worth starting a general purpose thread for the dark art.

I don't really consider myself a journo, having only had a couple of things published here and there (mostly for free might I add), but it would be good to get more stuff in print I admit. It would be interesting to hear more from people who've been doing it for longer than I have.

To get things rolling, I thought I'd ask a staple question that I think may have been toiled over before on ILX, regarding use of the first person in gig and LP reviews. Is this generally considered unacceptable in anything less than the most stylistic circumstances? Or does it really not matter too much? What about the use of "this writer" (don't really like this myself, I'd rather use "I/me" than "this writer", but that's just a personal thing).

Anyway, feel free to discuss whatever you like about music writing and journalism here.

dog latin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

I've said before about how I always hated that "The NME was told by Morrissey'" which is fine on the news page, but when it's "Morrissey bought the NME a drink and began .." on an interview, it's dumb.

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

Wrt first person: depends on who you're writing for and what kind of piece it is. Personally speaking, I've often had issues with the idea of "objective" criticism, so pretty much everything I've written, music-wise, has used the "I." But I've also avoided writing album reviews for publication, preferring to keep to autobiographical essays, short takes on singles, and blog posts, and in those contexts, no one's had an issue with it.

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:14 (eight years ago) Permalink

I often use first person, though rarely in a particularly deliberate way. It doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.

Tim F, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:17 (eight years ago) Permalink

Something I've noticed that crops up in features like that, something that isn't necessarily wrong per se, but I feel is one helluva boring way to start one of these goes along the lines of: "It is 3:17pm on a rainy Monday afternoon. The NME sits in a Harringey spit'n'sawdust boozer sipping a pint of Timothy Landlord..." etc. What I mean here is that the intro seems to tell you more about the time and weather and location of the actual interview than about who is being interviewed. Whenever I read features like this I tend to stop reading much past the first paragraph.

dog latin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:19 (eight years ago) Permalink

3:17pm on a rainy Monday afternoon. The NME sits in a Harringey spit'n'sawdust boozer sipping a pint of Timothy Landlord

^ very accurate summary of state of british indie rock in the 09, though

thomp, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:22 (eight years ago) Permalink

"It is 3:17pm on a rainy Monday afternoon. The NME sits in a Harringey spit'n'sawdust boozer sipping a pint of Timothy Landlord..."

if you're gonna "set the scene" like this the best way to do it is to say "[the artist] sits by the swimming pool sipping a mojito" - the i/v is about them after all

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:26 (eight years ago) Permalink

i mean all obv dependent on what kind of feature, which publication &c &c &c

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:27 (eight years ago) Permalink

"[the artist] sits by the swimming pool sipping a mojito"

The Lex interviews Raygun.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:45 (eight years ago) Permalink

I tend to use first person if my experience is an important part of the total picture. If I'm writing a piece that's based on a phone interview and three listens to the album, I don't do it; but if the publicist has flown me to Ireland to spend three or four days with the band, fuck yes I'm gonna inject myself into the story because I am then part of the story. I never use first person in CD reviews.

unperson, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:52 (eight years ago) Permalink

there's no i love writing board per se but consider this thread. a not-just-music writers' discussion might be fun.

New: "I Love Writing"

the first person thing is tricky. back when I wrote for the village voice many many years ago it was practically required in music reviews. as time went on many publications took the opposite tack, pretty much banning the "I" these days in the NY Times reporters are required to don this pseudo anonymity which I think reads terribly. instead of "so and so told me that..." it's "so and so told a reporter" waht? was it YOU or just some other random journalist who happened to be in the room?

m coleman, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:03 (eight years ago) Permalink

ha, you *are* the room!

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:06 (eight years ago) Permalink

Maybe 5% of music writing in the first person isn't hacky. I see it as a huge red flag. Unless it's absolutely necessary to the story, don't do it, imo.

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

How is it "hacky"?

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:12 (eight years ago) Permalink

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

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

"The first time I saw Spoon..."

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

oops yeah

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

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

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

xhuxk on point

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

wow that got convoluted

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

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

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

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

xp!

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

REMINDING MYSELF that i need to listen to some of philthy phil's podcasts...

https://burningambulance.com/

scott seward, Friday, 24 November 2017 18:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Are many folk still making a proper living from music writing?

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 24 November 2017 18:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i know a few staff writers and pure freelancers, yes

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, 24 November 2017 18:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

It'd be interesting to know how far the numbers have declined. Not in a ghoulish way, just to get a sense of how much the landscape has changed and what the perceived consequences are.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 24 November 2017 19:09 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I make decent dinner/drinks money; that's all

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 November 2017 21:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

it’s mostly important to me that music writing keeps alfred in cocktails

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, 24 November 2017 22:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Seconded

Modern Zounds in Undiscovered Country (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 24 November 2017 22:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i’m not a pure freelancer because i teach.

maura, Friday, 24 November 2017 23:36 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I feel like...I burned out last year, and I'm kinda in a lower gear this year. Invested more time in podcasts. Wound up pouring more energy than usual into album anniversary pieces and "my top ten tracks my artist X" pieces. Scoring assignments has somehow become more of a struggle in some places, and I don't know why: lots more writers in the field? My pitches are less enticing somehow? Or maybe I'm not as great a writer as I like to think I am. So a weird middle aged lethargy + feeling like maybe I'm aging out of this business a little, or maybe I'm just not as patient as I used to be or something. (There's more behind this and sometime in the next month I may try to expand it into a longer piece.)

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 25 November 2017 01:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

tl:dr - Wants to write about weird music that doesn't have publicity muscle, is tired of bullshit.

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 25 November 2017 01:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

(I'm a freelancer with a day job; if I had to depend on freelancing to make a living, especially in this era...can't even imagine.)

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 25 November 2017 01:26 (two weeks ago) Permalink

This time ten years ago, I was writing four or five pieces a week. So far this year, I've written two; both are magazine cover features, though. I wrote them because I was asked. I haven't pitched anything in at least two years, and I'm totally happy to be out of the game. Oddly, I feel like the lay-off has somehow improved my writing - both features were relatively painless to put together, and I think they're two of my best.

mike t-diva, Saturday, 25 November 2017 13:59 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I mean, I love writing as much as I ever did but I would also feel disillusioned if I had to depend on it as anything other than supplemental income.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 25 November 2017 14:12 (two weeks ago) Permalink

it’s mostly important to me that music writing keeps alfred in cocktails

― ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, November 24, 2017 5:08 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Seconded

― Modern Zounds in Undiscovered Country (James Redd and the Blecchs),

thirded

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 25 November 2017 14:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

mike, can those great stories be found online?

niels, Saturday, 25 November 2017 15:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I didn't burn out any more than I already had but I did get two new (non-writing) jobs and made the brilliant decision that I could not only write as much as before but write more

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Saturday, 25 November 2017 16:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i have a standing offer to write stuff for the metal magazine i used to write for which is SUPER nice and cool but....i think i'm good. sometimes i'll look at the reviews and think: i used to write stuff like that! but i don't need to do it now. let the youngsters do it.

if i could do my dollar bin column somewhere online where people would actually read it i would totally do that. i love doing stuff like that. but overall i like cleaning records all day.

getting burned out is different than all this sad old timer talk though. you can totally recharge from burn out. it is the end of a long year after all.

scott seward, Saturday, 25 November 2017 17:02 (two weeks ago) Permalink

xpost niels - no, they're print only and one hasn't been published yet.

mike t-diva, Saturday, 25 November 2017 17:58 (two weeks ago) Permalink

getting burned out is different than all this sad old timer talk though. you can totally recharge from burn out. it is the end of a long year after all.

― scott seward, Saturday, November 25, 2017 10:02 AM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

this is always good to hear, thanks scott

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Saturday, 25 November 2017 18:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

you just gotta get some emocore in you, the pure stuff

j., Saturday, 25 November 2017 18:44 (two weeks ago) Permalink

One thing I've struggled to reconcile this year is my unhealthy relationship with deadlines. They hang over everything I do, guilting and eating at me whenever I'm putting off an assignment (which is often). But then during those rare times when I don't have any assignments, instead of feeling a freedom I just feel like I'm slacking off. Deadlines become a kind of addiction. I feel miserable with them, and incomplete without them.

Evan R, Sunday, 26 November 2017 17:26 (two weeks ago) Permalink

An amusement.

3rd text in as many days reporting that journalists being headhunted for a M-- N--- pivot back to a "text focus". I AM STRAIGHT CACKLING.

— Jessica Hopper (@jesshopp) November 28, 2017

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 28 November 2017 23:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-la-weekly-20171129-story.html

LA Weekly’s staff was gutted Wednesday as Voice Media Group completed its sale of the alternative newsweekly to a newly created company, Semanal Media.

Nine of the 13 members of the editorial staff lost their jobs, including all the top editors and all but one of the staff writers.....Voice Media Group announced in January that it was putting LA Weekly up for sale. It said at the time that the publication, founded in 1978, was still profitable.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 November 2017 19:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

and this, amazingly, has been on the la weekly homepage for the past 12 hours:

http://www.laweekly.com/news/who-owns-la-weekly-8911213

Who Owns L.A. Weekly?

by KEITH PLOCEK

Who owns the publication you’re reading right now?

It’s a question you should ask no matter what you’re reading. In Latin there’s a phrase cui bono, which roughly translates as “who is benefiting?” It’s a good idea to know who is profiting in any situation. Why? So you can make educated decisions.

The new owners of L.A. Weekly don’t want you to know who they are. They are hiding from you. They’ve got big black bags with question marks covering their big bald heads.

These new owners just laid off nine hardworking journalists. Why? For sport? To start anew? To fulfill a blood vendetta that is centuries old?

Maybe they have a good reason. Maybe they don’t.

We don’t know. You don’t know. No one knows but them.

Who owns this publication?

It’s a fair question.

Who is benefiting?

You deserve to know.

Who owns L.A. Weekly?

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 30 November 2017 19:36 (two weeks ago) Permalink

https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/article/20984367/southcomm-makes-cuts-scene-editor-steve-cavendish-laid-off

SouthComm fires Nashville Scene editor who won’t get rid of staff and others.

curmudgeon, Friday, 1 December 2017 12:44 (one week ago) Permalink

Southcomm bought a bunch of weeklies some years back. They now want to sell Washington DC City Paper.

curmudgeon, Friday, 1 December 2017 12:58 (one week ago) Permalink

Oh no, Ben Carson's corrupt buddy wants to buy Washington City Paper.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/why-does-conservative-armstrong-williams-want-to-buy-the-liberal-washington-city-paper/2017/12/04/217db692-d5f9-11e7-a986-d0a9770d9a3e_story.html?utm_term=.73a84841c96f

His plans include a possible change to glossy print, an increased focus on celebrities, distribution to places like Philadelphia and New York, and more human-interest stories — he specifically suggested some soft-focus takes on prominent Trumpites, such as Hope Hicks’s hobbies or Stephen K. Bannon’s charitable works.

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/11/armstrong-williams-washington-city-paper-ben-carson/

curmudgeon, Monday, 4 December 2017 16:39 (one week ago) Permalink

Unless it's an interview, music writing in the Spotify era is pretty much useless anyway, so I wouldn't worry yourselves about it.

― Gholdfish Killah (Turrican), Friday, November 24, 2017 1:12 PM (one week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I keep coming back to this because it's correct, except for one caveat: there is exactly one thing that writing about music does for you in audience terms, and that is making people dislike you intensely, and inform you of it, in no uncertain terms. this part is, of course, mostly unchanged from decades ago, but every counterbalance has dissolved away to nothing. so whenever I'm writing anything, I'm conscious of the fact that filing a piece means in a couple days you're gonna flip a couple hundred or thousand new people on the global record of people who dislike you (people that it's entirely possible, given your major shared interest and general geographic clustering, to actually meet; I've experienced the moment where someone's talking to me and they realize who I am and what I've written, and a certain superiority enters their face)

if you have any perfectionism problems, this exacerbates those too -- it's not perfectionism when you know that if you file anything less than perfect, you will hear about it on Twitter.

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 4 December 2017 17:49 (one week ago) Permalink

you're gonna flip a couple hundred or thousand new people on the global record of people who dislike you

katherine, i think you are severely overrating the number of people that read music writing

mag gerwig! (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 December 2017 18:07 (one week ago) Permalink

never said they actually read it

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 4 December 2017 18:15 (one week ago) Permalink

"I've experienced the moment where someone's talking to me and they realize who I am and what I've written, and a certain superiority enters their face"

anyone who would actually do this to YOU is playing themselves so hard the only responses they deserve are scorn or pity.

evol j, Monday, 4 December 2017 18:19 (one week ago) Permalink

Yesterday I came across a track by infinite bisous on Spotify, looked for online music writing to get an idea of whether this was an acclaimed artist, not much writing to be found on Google but his 2017 was not poorly rated on RYM so I gave it a spin, at which time I came across a piece of music writing on a kind of blog, maybe it was actually half journalism half infomercial, but there was an interview with the guy where he said something that resonated with me about musical production:

I’m probably going to get told off for saying that, but what a weird idea that mostly musicians are complaining about not making money from their music. I just find it a really crazy idea to believe you’re owed money for something you’re supposed to do for yourself.

Can't help but connect this idea to the idea of music writing as something you should get paid for, I mean obv it's a job and I wish only the best for every writer on ilx, but there's a lot of good writing on ilx too, by which I want to say that I think it's likely possible to have an informed, public conversation about music that has no commercial interest (the extent to which this conversation relies on published work, especially books, I'm not sure abt).

There's that new Jann Wenner bio I really want to read, and I'm thinking maybe it will tell a story of the parallel commercialization of music production and music writing/media. I don't know much about the history of journalism but surely professional criticism is a very recent phenomenon?

(I have spent countless hours on amateur music writing and music making)

niels, Monday, 4 December 2017 18:40 (one week ago) Permalink

the notion that music writing/crit/journalism is valueless is absurd & wrong ... though the way some people do it,

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 4 December 2017 19:19 (one week ago) Permalink

i mean, why any journalism of any kind ... there's no commercial upside to it. thats why we pay matt lauer 23 million to read other people's work at us

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 4 December 2017 19:19 (one week ago) Permalink

I would never suggest it's without value, only that it's not uncommon to see good music writing done for free (just like a lot of great music is made without any commercial gain in sight)

surely the monetary value of journalism is the lesser of its values these days

niels, Monday, 4 December 2017 20:26 (one week ago) Permalink

MTV's "pivot to video" doesn't seem to be working too well

https://s7.postimg.org/oio71kbuz/mtv-stats.jpg

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:00 (one week ago) Permalink

I'm not suggesting it's valueless (though my career would not exist had I not written for free initially) but it *is* thankless

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:05 (one week ago) Permalink

now do one that goes back to 2015

mag gerwig! (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:09 (one week ago) Permalink

only options are 2 years back or all time (which is 5 years)

2 years back

https://s7.postimg.org/5l8mbwxiz/mt2-1.jpg

5 years

https://s7.postimg.org/hodxzciu3/mtv2-2.jpg

there's a big spike in 2016 leading up to a peak in traffic in August of 16 of 14.8 million (November 17 was 4.5 million so almost 1/3rd of the peak

they are essentially where they were at back in 2013, after a couple of good peaks in 2014 and 2016....

I don't know what was going on in August 2016 in terms of MTV's site but it's a pretty big spike

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:43 (one week ago) Permalink

That's a really generous reading of that graph

mag gerwig! (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:52 (one week ago) Permalink

could you just say what you want to say? i just c&p'd this stuff i'm not an expert on the workings on mtv.com

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:57 (one week ago) Permalink

I don't know what was going on in August 2016 in terms of MTV's site but it's a pretty big spike

election/post-election coverage?

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 4 December 2017 21:59 (one week ago) Permalink

for mtv, august = video music awards

fact checking cuz, Monday, 4 December 2017 22:07 (one week ago) Permalink

ahhh

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 4 December 2017 22:12 (one week ago) Permalink

yeah, and they streamed it on their site

mag gerwig! (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 December 2017 22:13 (one week ago) Permalink

could you just say what you want to say? i just c&p'd this stuff i'm not an expert on the workings on mtv.com
― Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, December 4, 2017 4:57 PM (seventeen minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

the cool narrative is that "pivot to video doesn't work as well as prestige thinkpieces"

the uncool narrative that no one wants to talk about is that prestige thinkpieces did not work as well as the Buzzfeed-y news aggregation/quick-hit model of 2014-2015

mag gerwig! (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 December 2017 22:18 (one week ago) Permalink

for mtv, august = video music awards

lmao duh never mind me

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 4 December 2017 22:28 (one week ago) Permalink

the quick hit model is losing traction though from what i can tell. what worked in 2014/15 is not necessarily working in 2018. a couple of years ago i worked for a site that would routinely publish long-ish pieces about musicians and pop culture that got more uniques that the extremely expensive videos that were being produced a few yards away. of course the videos d00ds would then add in their FB "reach" and claim that those numbers counted just as much as their site uniques, but they don't.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 4 December 2017 22:51 (one week ago) Permalink

quick hits are also basically useless if your site is not already well-trafficked, unless you manage to find the sweet spot of "has a fanbase that clicks"/"does not already have 1000 quick-hits about their latest instagram post from bigger fish than you."

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 4 December 2017 23:39 (one week ago) Permalink

the uncool narrative that no one wants to talk about is that prestige thinkpieces did not work as well as the Buzzfeed-y news aggregation/quick-hit model of 2014-2015

isn't part of that narrative, that the buzzfeed-y model was arms-racy too?

j., Tuesday, 5 December 2017 00:50 (one week ago) Permalink


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