Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.
Every time I think about posting an MP3 or artist profile that has already enjoyed some popularity for a few days, a haunting vision takes over my mind:
We see a long, oak table in stone-walled chambers deep within an ancient castle. The Altered Zones crew sits in hooded cloaks drinking PBR and listening to the latest 7″ from Olde English Spelling Bee. Suddenly Michael McGregor of Chocolate Bobka starts laughing from under his hood. “Hey guys,” he says, “Did you see Knox Road’s profile on Mind Spiders today? That’s SO last week!” The room erupts in laughter and our indie credibility is stripped forever.
Paranoid delusion or conspiratorial reality? That’s for YOU to decide. But the plain truth is that there is a “me first!” mindset in the music blog world that encourages posting MP3s before anybody else, and discourages posts if they’re after the fact. If you didn’t get there first, you didn’t get there at all.
When Lee and I first started Knox Road back in 2008, the seductive power of breaking an MP3 was intoxicating. I remember excitedly announcing that I had beat Gorilla vs. Bear to the punch or made it to the top of Elbo.ws’ “Hot Posts” list. Sometimes it was hard work, trolling through record label websites early in the morning, and sometimes it was pure luck. But the results were always the same and they always felt great.
But like anything wonderful, it isn’t healthy. So much of the music blog community has turned into a competitive, aggregating, monster machine. I’m glad you posted the new Toro Y Moi track before anybody else, but does that make you a great blogger? After tracking page views for a couple years, it became pretty obvious that the “Hot Posts” list was pretty much meaningless. It only takes about 15 views to be number one. And what about earning that coveted “First Posted Here” status? Does that really carry any weight?
We all make these web sites because we love writing about music, right? So why are so many blogs ignoring the content? Winning the MP3 races or breaking artists first won’t get you hundreds of new viewers and hundreds of new viewers won’t even get you hundreds of more dollars. So what’s the incentive? A digital blue ribbon? A stamp of approval? Or is it just that intoxicating satisfaction you get?
Maybe there isn’t a Freemason music blog conspiracy that laughs in our faces when we’re not hip to the latest jive. But we shouldn’t fear being reprimanded for showing up a few days late. As long as we have something new to add, shouldn’t there be an audience to listen? Or will they all be too busy guzzling PBR under their hoods and jamming out to the new Sky Juice single?