by MATT BACON >
So you want to know one of the biggest things ruining the industry these days?
It’s going to make you laugh when you hear me say it, but it’s bloggers. It’s bloggers writing about things that are ruining music which are ruining music. It creates this sort of weird circle jerk that only is going to hurt bands in the long run. I don’t see how anyone can see otherwise. Somewhere along the line bloggers decided that not only is some art objectively bad, which is true, but also that that art was ruining music. Now, that’s to some extent true, but these types of articles seem to become the basis for writers careers. We’ve already posts about how “Lo Fi is the end of pop” or how the “Kardashians are trivializing art”. Now that sucks. But you know what sucks more? The fact that these bloggers are spending their time talking about how things are being ruined rather than creating real art of their own or at least figuring how to fix things.
I think first and foremost it’s important to realize how we got here.
As we all know, the internet has a culture which can frequently be viewed as very destructive and in many ways pushing against the idealism the form was initially built upon. We found early on as a collective that a lot of the articles that got the most hits were the articles that were essentially outrage porn, and it’s easy to see why. We can express emotions on the internet we couldn’t really use in real life. Furthermore, once this art form developed beyond trolling we started to find some serious issues. We ran into the reaction piece. The piece that existed largely just to give people something to fume about. I get where the idea for reaction pieces comes from and to some extent this very article is one, but it started to lead to this weird myopic thing where we needed reaction pieces for everything we we consumed, and that’s where things got out of hand.
Seriously though – I’m not sure I understand why we need to have reaction pieces to every piece of content.
I get that in some ways they are just a modern continuation on the standard review, but it feels like in recent years it has devolved into something so much worse and less valuable. The reason that they aren’t valuable is that they imply there is some larger problem with art, which there isn’t. Yes there might be certain artists who need to be corrected and yes there might be certain movements that have some inherent laws that it is healthier to talk out than to just push off to the side, but reaction pieces seem to have become the new way to get big on the internet and I’m not entirely sure how a genre takedown is meant to be productive. What’s the writers goal even? From what I can tell there is no endgame. It’s not like individual cases of bad art really impact your life, and you wouldn’t be listening to music if you thought it was universally bad right?
I think this leads into a bigger problem with the music industry and really internet culture as a whole.
There is a desire to be right that is unhealthy. I see it in myself all the time, I get into arguments about music frequently because I believe people are wrong about the fundamental nature of a record. It’s something I’m passionate about (obviously) and so it sometimes gets me in trouble. But by this same token it’s what alienates me from a lot of potential friends. Why? Because at the end of the day, outside of a small cabal of dorks, reaction pieces are useless. The articles telling people whats wrong with the industry only serve to make people angry, and that makes them less likely to support the music that the people writing these pieces claim to love. I know it doesn’t feel that way a lot of the time, because after all we’re just trying to document the music, but that sort of thing blows up in peoples faces time and time again.
There are countless bands that have broken up over ‘drama from the press’ and countless fans who quit the scene because the ‘scene drama’ was too intense. Hell I’ve left certain genres of music myself because I couldn’t handle the scene drama. Yet so much of this drama just seems to come from people posting about perceived slights in the world of underground music. When it comes down to it, most people in independent music want the same thing, to be heard, to do something great and to transcend the common limitations of the scene. And yet the most predatory people in this music are often the same ones who are supposed to be helping it grow. It’s insane and frustrating and I think that we all need to come to terms with that if we want this to actually work out for us and we don’t want to just be stupid pretenders.
At the end of the day, reaction articles are hurting us all because they exacerbate some of the less savory parts of the music that we love.
They drive us crazy and they remind us time and time again of the flaws that make us want to give up. So what can we do other than to sit down and try to find ways forward? We need to focus on the positive and realize that together we can and will triumph, as long as we remain intelligent and don’t just slip into the same useless lies that everyone else tells themselves in order to justify their nihilism and lack of direction in an industry that demands that you have purpose and fight for what you want.