After reading Everett True’s piece in Crikey on Tuesday, I was struck by a great sense of irony — a proud music journalist bemoaning the demise of his career on the very medium he blamed for its downfall.
But the greater irony lies in True’s criticism of what he calls Web 2.0 music journalism and its inability for original thought. And how does True demonstrate his point? By using someone else’s tired idea that music writing on the internet is popularised, recycled content. But the opposite is true.
True confusingly belittles and borrows from Chris Weingarten. His hatred for web 2.0 music journalism, embodied by the website The Hype Machine, which True incorrectly labelled as search engine optimisation, is well known. But this is not the source of a homogenised music landscape, far from it.
The Hype Machine is similar to Google. It searches from a group of selected sites and aggregates them. At your fingertips are a plethora of music sites that offer opinions in narrow fields of interest. But this is a good thing.
Music writing on the web is home to niche experts. It’s here that genres have been reborn, careers launched, and trails blazed. All from an uploaded mp3, and few keystrokes from an unknown blogger. From obscure blogs about African cassette tapes that inspire bands such as Vampire Weekend, who go on to play to crowds of thousands — the amateur music journalist is wielding more influence than ever and the results are not always bad.
The Hype Machine should be seen as a resource, a music hub that offers sounds that won’t be heard on the radio. The majority of what’s published often goes unnoticed by the mainstream. It’s the stuff the older music journalists haven’t heard of yet and some of them are angry someone on Blogspot is scooping them.
True classifies this blogger as someone beneath him and it’s easy to see why he holds this sense of snobbery so tightly. His role is changing. Very few paid music journalist are on the forefront of music. The role of the paid music writer is now to look to the web for what is being written and to do so you must have some respect for the bloggers who work for nothing writing about music they love.
Thanks to myriad music blogs, I can access South African dance music, traditional music from Malawi or hear the hits of Peruvian clubs. The home of niche music writing is on the web and its influence is still expanding.
The web is on the forefront of musical exchange, whether it’s opinions or actual music, and it has left a lot of people struggling to catch up. I couldn’t think of a medium less in risk of homogeny.