Having finally read the responses to Rockcritic’s group Q&A, there’s a fair degree of both alignment and contrast from a wide-ranging bunch of music blog characters, and a typically astute summation of the issues by Tom over at Freaky Trigger.
The ‘individualist mindset’ of music bloggers identified by David Moore (and many others) must be balanced against the recognition that people have offline lives. I guess I have to plead guilty to such a mindset, but there’s plenty that could be said on another day about why someone is more loner than communer; in any case it’s a complex choice and the loner’s relationship with the world is not set in stone, varying with time and age.
The thing about conversations is that you do have to be able to set aside time to have them in both the online or real worlds. Online I very rarely have that time, and in any case am too slow-witted and deliberate to zap out comments like a (hip young) gun-slinging bartender creating work-of-art cocktails.
As with music, so with writing about music – cross-fertilisation, amoebic cell-division, bacterial reproduction, and whatever biological process most resembles pick-and-mix have led to a proliferation of approaches, styles and perhaps conversely increasingly insular micro-communities. Conversation is easier when you know who you’re conversing with. There’s probably more linkage and conversation now than there was back when music blogging was about to gain critical mass, it just looks smaller set against the millions now blogging or plugging away.
Obviously, in terms of the exchange of comments that is the hat-tip of blogworld, if you say (as I did) ‘I wish I had more time to respond to what I read on the blogs of others’ your own blog-owning readers are going to think, well, neither do I on yours, Pantry boy; save perhaps for when you have said nice things about me. Hey ho. The issue cannot be forced.
I took newsstand to mean newspapers, at least one of which has taken on board blogging both as a means of two-way communication (online at least) and stylistically – the Guardian’s G2 section is full of first person commentary and only its consistency (though not necessarily its interest) sets it apart from the blogosphere. Significantly I didn’t give a thought to the music publications I browse and occasionally buy in HMV. I nodded my head at David Moore’s ‘The number of times I’ve learned anything or even particularly enjoyed myself in front of a printed piece of music journalism in the past few years is very low.’ While there are some excellent writers working for the British music monthlies, they do seem constrained by both the limited types of formats available to them and the inherent limitations of each format – the interview, the career retrospective. Is that what readers want, or is it simply a scaredy-cat marketing perception of what they want? The old lags on rotation on the covers would suggest the latter. As for album reviews, only a few releases are given space in which a writer can range and explain and surprise.
Carl Wilson’s point about blogs having created an olde NME-style buzz effect in North America is interesting. Makes me want not to add to the noise about Vampire Weekend, despite having immediately taken to them in a way that seldom happens during the most recent of my MySpace trawls for fresh sounds.