It sounds ridiculous, but one thing that really bothers me is absolute
knowledge, and the fact that it’s impossible to gain it. Starting a
music blog, then, probably wasn’t the best informed decision ever
made. The idea is simple – start writing stuff about things that you
don’t really know on a subject that you’ve got a vague appreciation
of. Everyone loves music, even if it’s only the tunes from the CCS
sofa company adverts on the television or the theme from Home and
Away, so it’s natural that a lot of people would want to be a part of
a scene that glorifies that.
The thing is, you don’t really understand the scale of it until you
start to dive in. As far as I know, my mother can only name about 20
bands, has only ever been to one gig (Iron Maiden, vastly out of
character) and likely thinks that I’m one of a couple of people
writing for free about music whilst dossing about on the dole. In
fact, there are tens of thousands of us, each more pointlessly over
the top in our descriptions than the last, all fighting for… what?
Much like independent music on the whole, blogging is a scene that
draws in twenty-something males with a little bit too much time on
their hands. In the past, it might’ve been through an attempt to try
and extend the student lifestyle into a job, giving a couple more
years to mess about, wake up late and avoid reality whilst spending
nights doing something you love.
True, for every NME writer who successfully moved on from writing
their own ‘zines in the 80’s, there are probably several hundred more
who put their heart into a couple of folded pages of A4 paper and only
ended up as shift manager in a Starbucks. At the moment, if you’re
doing it through some hope of gainful employment, it feels like a
continual uphill struggle. The few who do delve in looking for an
immediate career and lavish lifestyle are weeded out quickly and
ruthlessly – it’s a game of slender means, and it’s mainly done as an
act of charity, to help out people in a lot worse positions than
ourselves – the artists.
Music journalist jobs are, rightly, thin on the ground these days.
Back in the days before the information super highway, there was a
definite role for the writer to play in acting as a tastemaker for
people who otherwise may not have heard about certain artists. The
Paul Morley may have turned into a talking head for various programs
in recent years, but he genuinely broke a lot of bands during his
tenure at the NME. For music writers, that’s the goal, really. At
heart we might all be failed, wannabe musicians who don’t have the
skill or nerve to get on stage, but there’s still the urge to be on
the crest of a wave of something new, exciting and relevant, to be a
part of some kind of zeitgeist through association.
The role of the tastemaker has broken down. People can make up their
own minds about new bands through downloading and streaming, and
that’s a great thing, which has enabled just as many writers to start
up as it has bands to get their name out. It’s quicker to have a
listen to a song or two than read what some excitable bloke who’s
signed up to wordpress thinks about it, which is the way it should be.
There’s always room for great writers, no matter what the subject, but
for the rest of us, it’s just a hobby.
All that said, what do I know? Start your own blog and let people know
what you’re listening to – it’s likely to be a lot better than the
shouting hordes of lonely young men who are at it already.