Tuesday, 15 June 2010

DiS is 10 | Press Release


Drowned In Sound, the UK’s original music website, is ten this year and to celebrate a decade of debate, dissent and deliberation on the merits of a multitude of musics, founder and owner Sean Adams will be announcing a plethora of events and special coverage on the site. Ten years since its inception the site boasts more than half a million users per month.
Drowned In Sound was born on 10th October 2000 in the bedroom of Sean Adams. Originally a hobby, the site soon took on greater significance as Sean pioneered the idea of a community of music minds through the site messageboards and offered new and emerging artists an outlet for coverage that seemed to be lacking in the wider music media at the time. On the anniversary itself, Sean Adams will host a special Drowned In Sound 6 Mix on BBC Radio 6 that will feature 20 landmark songs from ten years of DiS alongside a few special exclusives from friends of the site such as Erol Alkan and James Lavelle.
The link between artists and Drowned In Sound has been a constant story of the last ten years, from Bloc Party forming on the messageboards to the likes of Tom Smith of Editors joining the debate on his band, interactivity between like minds and opposing viewpoints, critics, artists and fans has been a hallmark of Drowned In Sound that now seems the norm across the online landscape. As part of the birthday celebrations, keep an eye out for DiS’ greatest debates, revisiting some of the great arguments and spats between artists and the individuals on the messageboards. Whilst everyone now talks about breaking down barriers and creating communities, it was Drowned In Sound that started this process, way back at the beginning of the decade.
Given the sheer passion for music that created the site and continues to power it, there should be no surprise that Drowned In Sound spawned an attendant label that was responsible for the debut Kaiser Chiefs single and albums and singles from such luminaries as Martha Wainwright, Brett Anderson, Metric, Blood Red Shoes and Emmy The Great amongst others. Having made a mark on the music landscape from the start of the decade, this second string to the Drowned In Sound further developed the idea of breaking down the traditional walls between media that continues to be a hallmark of the site.
The influence of Drowned In Sound on the British music landscape is hard to over-estimate. Alongside countless innovations now recognised as standard for websites, Drowned In Sound alumni have spread across the media industry with James MacMahon of NME, Terry Bezer of Metal Hammer, Mike Diver at the BBC and countless blog writers and music media freelancers all starting their careers on the site. It is no surprise that Sean Adams has been listed as one of the 10 Music people in the Hospital Club 100 most influential people in media and one of the 30 Under 30 Power Players in the Modern Media in The Sunday Times, with Steve Lamacq observing: “Sean is an ideas man, He grasped early on that there were communities of fans being drawn together online.”
The birthday will be marked by a host of special coverage on site and DiS live events, including a DiS stage at Summer Sundae, the site’s 50 favourite people discussing their favourite albums, a rerun of the greatest online spats from the last decade with a host of other shows, coverage and special moments to be announced.

Lewis Jamieson - 07718 652582 / 020 8714 0139 lewis@loudhailerpress.com

Saturday, 8 May 2010

My other blog is a Tumblr


I've sort of stopped using this blog and, like many others, I have been sucked into the vortex of Tumblr.

Will try to remember to post some updates here but if you want to follow my blog from now on you'll find me here: http://seaninsound.tumblr.com/

Sean x

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Forthcoming speaking engagements

I've been invited to speak and offer advice at the following two events. Please comment below or tweet me if you’re planning to attend either of the below events and there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear me speak about. 


Friday 30th April 2010
@ Old Broadcasting House, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds

10.45 - 11.15
Keynote: “Do Anything You Wanna Do” 
(Speaker: Sean Adams) 
How much can you achieve yourself, as a music maker or as a facilitator? Discussing the problem of  identifying your aspirations, the problems with integrating with mainstream expectations and what tools are out there to help you achieve your goals.

13.45 - 14.45 
Reaching The Media 
(Speakers: Sean Adams - DiS/Sunday Times, Tom Goodhand - Leeds Guide / NME, Tom Bellhouse - Brew Records) 
Panel of Journalists, DJs, Bloggers and Labels talk about how best to engage the media, what you can do yourself and how this fits in with achieving your overall aspirations for your music.

15.00 - 16.00 
What Does Social Media Mean To You? 
(Sean Adams, Richard Huxley - Hope & Social, Gareth Dobson - Fear & Records management / Wichita, Tom Bellhouse - Brew Records, Lisa Hibbert - Digital Marketeer) 
Promote, distribute and even fund your music in the ever-burgeoning world of social media. Creating communities on twitter, or selling unique bundles on bandcamp – join the debate on how to get the most out of the internet.

16.30 - 18.00 
Advice Panel 
(Speakers: Sean Adams, David Bates - Sony A&R/DB Music + more TBC) 
General advice from a panel of experts based on what is useful in real life situations – from entering the mainstream music industry, to how to consolidate your position and make the most of what you want to the music you love This session is designed to be about YOU, so please get in touch with us. Send a link to your music with detail of what you are up to and what your aspirations are.

Registration Details: If you wish to attend the Unconference please email unconference@liveatleeds.com with your name, and whether you intend to attend all day, just morning or just afternoon session. Please note, however, the Unconference has a limited capacity, and attendance is on a first come first served basis on the day.http://www.liveatleeds.com/other_events.html


Friday 14th May 2010
@ Pavilion Theatre,  Brighton

Future of Music: Radio Debate
In light of the recent proposed changes at the BBC, what is the state  of play with traditional radio outlets in the UK and is DAB still the way forward? Is traditional music radio still as important in breaking new talent or does the future of music radio now lie on the internet?

Our industry panel discusses this timely topic in what is set to be a keenly anticipated debate. 

Sean Adams - Founder, DrownedinSound.com
Stefan Baumschlager - Head Label Liaison, Last.fm
Clive Dickens - Chief Operating Officer, Absolute Radio
Matt Everitt - BBC 6 Music
Dave Haynes - VP Business Development, Soundcloud



P.S. If you’re heading to the Great Escape, also check out the Drowned in Sound stage at Revenge on Thursday and Friday, featuring the likes of Blood Red Shoes, Ruby Suns, Rolo Tomassi, Japandroids, Mount Kimbie, Team Ghost (ex-M83) and lots more. Info here: http://drownedinsound.com/news/4139712-blood-red-shoes-ruby-suns-rolo-tomassi-mount-kimbie-and-more-for-dis-stage-at-the-great-escape

Friday, 16 April 2010

Some answers to some Qs about gatekeepers, tastemakers and blogging...

My answers to some dissertation questions from Sarah Scouller

 • Whether you think music readers have shifted towards amateurs bloggers for believed 'authenticity'

I personally think it's more for the person-to-person connection, unfiltered by editors or some naïve perceived notion that advertising influences editorial (not that this conspiracy isn't justified in some circles but usually it's trading exclusive traffic-worthy content).

I also believe the main reason for any shift is partly due to the fact music critics/journalists haven't moved on to or included more succinct at-a-glance forms of writing, as bloggers are more like radio deejays, offering a couple of sentences (rather than paragraphs of descriptive theory) and then a link to hear it. Not even wants 'waffle', we get a lot of "too long, didn't read" reactions to things. People who 'read' blogs love the brevity as it means they can be lazy and not 'waste' time reading words - it's all a bit ready meal, buzz-in-a-bag. Twitter and Tumblr have taken the soundbite-bitten, overview-obsessed nature of things to logical conclusions and this ability to have a shallow glimpse, without much sense of a need for a depth of knowledge is frightening.

• Do you feel that there has been a shift in the gatekeepers of music, can anyone be a tastemaker nowadays?

Anyone CAN be anything but it doesn't mean they're any good at it, and for bloggers they are merely one gatekeeper for their small circle of followers with very similar tastes. Admittedly, some circles are more influential than other cogs. So much of what is considered 'tastemaking' is just confirmation of the blogosphere's status quo. It's rare to find a music blog run by someone outside of the current short-lived trends/micro-paradigms - which is partly why I love Hipster Runoff. There's also no real context for recommendations in terms of whether the blogger loves or just vaguely likes something and feels it's relevant, and you don't get much sense of what they don't like, which is often more revealing (especially in a 'showing your workings' kinda way). I fear a lot of stuff is just posted for some google or hype machine traffic.

• How much of an impact is blogging having upon freelance writers?

On the one-side many of our former contributors now write for and/or run most of the music media in the UK from NME's features editor to BBC's record reviews editor. I've scored a column from 'blogging' and Peter from Popjustice has done really well too but I guess this is not very different than the breeding ground of fanzines.

I'm not sure to what extent the migration to the web and therefore smaller revenues has affected freelancers but it would seem logical that it's not as good as it was in past thirty years but probably better than it ever was before that. It is now a lot easier for 'staff' at major publications to rehash content from elsewhere, rather than paying someone else to do it - especially when it comes to 'news'.

• To what extent has digital technology impacted journalism?​

One of my biggest hates is the way magazines have tried to compete with the comprehensive abundance of the web by reducing their editorial to a scattering of tiny flags in everything, rather than focussing on the value of scarcity and the resources they have to make informed filtering decisions, sticking their necks out for music worth believing in and putting it on the map, rather than trying to compete with kids in their bedrooms. The churnover of new 'buzz-worthy' bands is utterly ridiculous and is to the benefit of no-one, least of all the middle-class of acts who haven't broken through releasing their second, third or thirteenth albums.

I also think the reliance on crowd-sourcing has really damaged the media as a whole, as there's no way that data is going to do anything but mislead and direct people toward the agreeable gloop - it's as if MOR is now middle-of-the-superhighway blog-rock. We've somehow gained reactive opinions on everything but most media has lost most of the ability to research and mine for gold, creating the debate and setting the agenda.

Then there's the fact that the influential die-hard clusters of music fans no longer need media and believe they're savvy enough to explore the online world of streamable and downloadable music un-guided, yet they enevitably slide further and further down their own niche, forming ghettos and are rarely  exposed to anything that might truly challenge, excite or inspire them. The weird thing is, most media tries to cater for these sorts of people they've lost long ago, rather than focussing on providing something for the less savvy who appreciate a window in to the things which might appeal to them, with analysis and explanation. It's odd that it now seems to be ads and television series who are the gatekeepers, creating hit acts whilst the media constantly eats itself, following trends or tick box data (R1 playlist is a prime example of this), rather than their guts and minds.

Posted via email from seaninsound

Friday, 2 April 2010

Something for the long weekend...

Just sent out this mailout, if you're not on the mailing list and would like to be, sign-up here:  http://dada.drownedinsound.com/cgi-bin/dada/mail.cgi/list/updates/

I N _ S O U N D 


We hope you're enjoying some fish 'n chips in the liquid sunshine on this so-called "good" "Friday". 

If choice paralysis hits and you can't decide what to listen to this weekend or if you want to discover some new (to you) music, check out our year so far, first quarter digest on DiS. Which includes...

SINGLES of the year (SO FAR!)

2010 Q1 in a 101 song playlist

NEWSROUND: The Year So far in News


This week on DiS as a playlist featuring: Weezer, Elliott Smith, Jonsi, Chihei Hatakeyama, Three Trapped Tigers, Kelpe, 65daysofstatic, Owen Pallett, Beach House, Bear In Heaven, The Hidden Cameras, Monsters of Folk, Dum Dum Girls, Titus Andronicus, The Vaselines and Kevin Drumm.

New additions: Jonsi, Elliott Smith, Bear in Heaven, Ikonika, To Rococo Rot, Serena Maneesh, Dark Dark Dark and plenty more...

If you've not seen it yet, check out this little audio-only blog we've set-up http://drownedinsoundcloud.com/

Have a great extended weekend,

DiS xo

Posted via email from seaninsound

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Looking For Gold: SXSW WHY? by F**ked Up

A [SXSW] festival pass can cost almost $800 a person. A band gets either wristbands or $250, which is enough to buy enough gas to get your van maybe 15 hours away from Austin, one way. Most bands are from outside that radius, and are well within the range of losing a shit ton of money by coming. In exchange, sxsw gets access to the best bands in the world, every club in Austin, and sponsorship money from all the coolest companies on earth. One of the more creatively heinous examples of branding I learned about this year was the Green Label Sound record label, which is a branding exercise of Mountain Dew soda. When my friend was offered to do a record with Green Label Sound for many thousands of dollars, I was happy to concede that it was a great deal for his specific band. Then I saw the giant 4 panel billboard for Green Label Sound right next to Stubbs on Red River St. Great for Chromeo, Neon Indian and the two other bands on the advert I forget ("great" in the sincere and non-facetious sense) and realized how maybe it was a bit more of a serious issue than I'd thought. Think of all the bands that had to blow their wallets apart to get to their one sxsw showcase, and all the partiers who had to pay to fly or hitchhike from Greenpoint or Plymouth to get to Austin in order to create the cultural critical mass that allowed Mountain Dew to greenlight a giant billboard in the epicenter of American indie rock. Think of why there is so much free beer and cigarettes and energy drinks at sxsw, and why every year there is even more, and why every year there are a dozen more huge shows presented by even bigger companies than last year. It's because you paid your money to go there and see these ads...
...Sxsw then can be seen as an economic battle ground. Our first time down there in 2007, the biggest buzz was about how sxsw was shutting down unofficial venues left and right, presumably because the money and the buzz created by those shows was flowing away from the festival, rather than towards it. The shows were mostly free, which made them irresistible to music consumers tired of needing to buy expensive passes from sxsw to check out cool bands. This is a pretty good analogy for what then started to happen to the entire industry - it became possible for fans who had spent most of their lives buying CD's (that they knew cost 50 cents to produce but cost $17.99 to buy) to download them on the internet for free, and record labels, who started seeing CD sales plummet, immediately starting trying to shut these sites down. While sxsw quickly learned to lay off the free parties and start using them to their advantage, the record industry has yet to figure out how to profit from "illegal" downloading. This year the focus of the festival was free parties only tangentially related to sxsw. Sxsw knows that it's never going to shut down every free party, so it makes more sense just to let them happen, and use the initiatives of the bands and labels and companies throwing these parties make sxsw as a whole more appealing.

The above are just two choice paragraphs from a brilliant blog post.

Posted via web from seaninsound

Monday, 22 March 2010

RE: "The Men From The Press" and "DrownedinSound"

Publication packages
Submission fee
NME, Terrorizer, BBC Music, Drowned in Sound, Quietus


This IS utter bullshit and we have nothing to do with this site. We do not endorse this.

Only heard about this, this afternoon. Seem the mysterious people (if you know who it is, please let me know) behind this, emailed a bunch of DiS writers saying "would you like to be paid to review some records" for a new project and obvs a bunch of them replied saying "yeah, alright, i'll take your money" and they all ended up named on the site. Site was taken down, and then went back up again but with the publications still on there.

All the DiS contributors who've emailed me back so far asked to be removed, as it wasn't what they had agreed to do.

Hell, I sit around listening to mostly not very good unsigned bands for free. I can kinda see where the 'concept' came from, in terms of greasing the wheels to bring certain CDs to the top of the pile and give bands some feedback... Not all ideas are worth running with tho, especially when they're so poorly executed, give the impression you'll get a leg up but generally seems exploitative and EVIL. If you're in a band, don't do this, just do your research of who will like your stuff. People are easy to communicate with.

Then again, who on earth would hand over their money to a website that looks quite so amateur?

Posted via web from seaninsound

Monday, 8 March 2010

SoundCloud - Our friends over at DrownedInSound just came over...

Our friends over at DrownedInSound just came over with this great equation:

Drowned In Sound + SoundCloud + Tumblr = DrownedInSoundCloud. Total Win and immediate follow!

Featuring some of the great tracks and full albums on SoundCloud, approved by DiS.

Follow it here. Great idea, Sean! Thanks a bunch.

Glad you like it. Thanks to Soundcloud and everyone else who has tweeted, facebooked, tumblr’d, blogged, etc about this little mash-up. Glad you like it and there’s plenty more to come.

Posted via web from seaninsound

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Play This Playlist. Tracks from our Recommended Records of 2010 (thus far) | @Spotify

Our community do a lot of wonderful things and this thread compiling recent records people recommend has some great bits in it, so I thought I'd turn it into a playlist.

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – The Road
The Besnard Lakes – Albatross
Frightened Rabbit – Swim Until You Can’t See Land
The Ruby Suns – Cranberry
Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
Midlake – Rulers, Ruling All Things
Shearwater – Landscape At Speed
Beach House – Zebra
These New Puritans – We Want War
Pantha Du Prince – Stick To My Side
Four Tet – Plastic People
Errors – A Rumour In Africa
Jaga Jazzist – Music! Dance! Drama!
Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Nedry – Apples & Pears
Gil Scott-Heron – New York Is Killing Me
Ali Farka Touré – Doudou
Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Off His Shirt
Oh No Ono – Icicles
Efterklang – Scandinavian Love
Erland And The Carnival – You Don't Have To Be Lonely
Nana Grizol – Blackbox
Gorillaz – Stylo (Album Version) (Feat. Mos Def and Bobby Womack)
Massive Attack – Saturday Come Slow
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Le Chat du Café des Artistes
Holly Miranda – Sweet Dreams
Tunng – It Breaks
Eels – Mansions Of Los Feliz
Basia Bulat – Sugar And Spice
Shining – The Madness And The Damage Done
Mat Riviere – FYH
Motorpsycho – Close Your Eyes
The Irrepressibles – Knife Song
Fredrik – Flax
Field Music – The Rest Noise
Tindersticks – Harmony Around My Table
Robert Curgenven – Gran Coda Andante
Richard Skelton – Of The Last Generation
Los Campesinos! – We've Got Your Back
Kath Bloom – Is This Called Living?
Ellie Goulding – The Writer
Lindstrøm & Christabelle – Baby Can't Stop
Vampire Weekend – California English
Manchester Orchestra – The Only One
Spoon – Is Love Forever?
Local Natives – Airplanes

Posted via email from seaninsound

Monday, 22 February 2010

Critics? You need us more than ever | guardian.co.uk

Real criticism is not about distinguishing good from bad; it is about distinguishing good from great. There's plenty of terrible art around, but it usually finds its level in the end. The curse of our time, in the arts, is mediocrity and ordinariness: the quite good film that gets an Oscar, the OK artist who becomes a megastar. Truly remarkable art is rare and to see it when it comes, to fight for it, to hold it up as an example for the rest – that is the critic's true task.

Here! Here!

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Some brilliant advice for musicians (and beyond) via @musicthinktank

Map out a two year or three year plan that elaborately pulls people into your world of images, poetry, lyrics, stories, music, mystery, hints, clues, energy, characters, plot, storyline, drama, intrigue and excitement.

I've been saying a lot of similar things to this to artists recently. The possibilities on the web are endless. Treat the web like a skateboarder treats architecture. Be playful. Be creative (or at least defined) in all that you do from tweets to packaging to stage set-ups to haircuts. Remove the mundane for your (potential) fans and for yourself. Build a mosaic of relevant textures and tastes.

Think bigger: create a whole world and place you and your music within it.

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Friday, 19 February 2010

What would you like to see more of or less of on DiS?

Here's the latest mailout, just curious what you all do and don't like
about the site at the moment...

(oh and if you haven't already join the mailing list here:
http://dada.drownedinsound.com/cgi-bin/dada/mail.cgi/list/updates/ or
facebook group here:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2223035561&ref=ts  or facebook
'fan' page here: http://www.facebook.com/drownedinsound )


Happy Friday!

Has the weekend landed on your face with a custard tart squelch yet?
Me either. I'm sure one day I'll understand why weekend's land...
Anyway, here's what you mighta missed on DiS this week, as a playlist:

Featuring: MGMT, Richard Skelton, The Fall, Mos Def, Quasi, The Big
Pink, Roy Harper, Peter Gabriel, Caitlin Rose, Elliott Smith, Field
Music, Swanton Bombs, Nedry, Crystal Castles, Beach House, Metronomy
and Deftones.

Also on the site this week...

R E C O M M E N D E D _ R E A D S

1) DiS' first 'local' column - DrownedinManchester

2) The Insider on "EXCLUSIVES"

3) Review: Marina & the Diamonds

N E W S + V I D E O S
» Lloyd-Webber to save Abbey Road Studios?
» Watch: Shearwater - 'Hidden Lakes'
» Rufus Wainwright confirms new LP
» The Fall to release new record in April
» MGMT unveil 'wacky' new album art
» John Lydon would 'love' to re-record Dark Side Of The Moon
» Elliott Smith's Roman Candle re-issue gets release date
» Listen: The Morning Benders - 'Excuses'
» Joanna Newsom added to Matt Groening ATP line-up
» Watch: The Futureheads - 'Heartbeat Song'
» Bright Eyes confirms first new material since 2007
» Deftones announce long-awaited sixth studio album
» Joanna Newsom to play two Royal Festival Hall shows with Roy Harper
» Listen: Mogwai and Rock Action launch podcast
» Mos Def to play trio of UK shows, performs Madvillain's 'Accordion'
» Gold Panda announces first headline shows, album, single
» BBC 6Music seemingly safe after all
» Watch: So So Modern - 'Worst Is Yet To Come'
» Listen: Exclusive Strange Boys album stream for Be Brave
» Jónsi of Sigur Rós announces tour dates, video
» New Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album due March 22?
» Crystal Castles announce handful of dates across US, UK and Europe
» Listen: Download Tubelord remix of 'Stacey's Left Arm'
» Friendly Fires announce split single with Holy Ghost!
» Listen: Glissando free live EP download
» Watch: Steve West of Pavement's Tour Survival Guide
» Listen: Lightspeed Champion streams new album online
» Hole gig cancelled due to (unrelated) riot
» Watch: Wild Beasts US tour diary
» 'Stars' of the indieverse reveal their first musical crush

» Spotifriday #34 - This Week on DiS as a playlist
» Drowned In Manchester #1
» The Insider: This column is exclusive to Drowned In Sound
» OLUGBENGA from Metronomy on World Music
» Guest Post: Why there’s no such thing as "the music industry"
» armchair dancefloor 016 incl Blue Daisy mix
» This Week's Singles: 15/02/10
» This week’s albums ft Shearwater, Field Music and Xiu Xiu
» Column: Drowned In Scary Monsters #7
» Field Music's track-by-track guide to Field Music (Measure)

» In Photos: Mystery Jets @ Camden Barfly, London
» In Photos: Los Campesinos! @ Central Station, Wrexham
» In Photos: Davy Knowles @ The Garage, London
» In Photos: Beach House @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
» In Photos: British Sea Power @ Brighton Audio
» In Photos: DiS presents Esben and The Witch @ The Harley, Sheffield
» In Photos: These New Puritans @ The Scala, London
» In Photos: White Lies @ FAC251, Manchester

R E C O R D _ R E V I E W S
» Retribution Gospel Choir - 2
» Owl City - Ocean Eyes
» The Courteeners - Falcon
» Caitlin Rose - Dead Flowers
» Various - In the Loop 5
» The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?
» Quasi - American Gong
» LoneLady - Nerve Up
» Holly Miranda - The Magician's Private Library
» Tom McRae - The Alphabet of Hurricanes
» Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back
» Nedry - Condors
» Glee Cast - Glee: The Music Vol. 1
» NosferatuD2 - We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones
On To Block Out The Noise
» Godzilla Black - Godzilla Black
» Efterklang - Magic Chairs
» Lightspeed Champion - Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You
» Musee Mecanique - Hold This Ghost
» Marina & the Diamonds - The Family Jewels
» Cluster - Qua
» Former Ghosts - Fleurs
» Blur - No Distance Left to Run
» D-Bridge and Instra:Mental Present Autonomic - Fabriclive.50
» Swanton Bombs - Mumbo Jumbo and Murder
» Xiu Xiu - Dear God, I Hate Myself
» Bass Clef - May the Bridges I Burn Light the Way
» Creature With The Atom Brain - Transylvania

L I V E _ R E V I E W S
» NME Awards Tour 2010 at Rock City, Nottingham
» Arctic Monkeys, Mystery Jets at Sant Jordi Club, Barcelona
» The Ex and Brass Unbound, The Ex, Zun Zun Egui at Fleece and Firkin, Bristol

That's more than enough.
Bye for now
DiS xo

p.s. apologies about the ongoing bugs with the site, we have a new
developer starting next week (we haven't had a tech person since Nov
and something went weird with database) and lots of niggly things
should be sorted asap.

Posted via email from seaninsound's posterous

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

'It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to." - Jean-Luc Godard

The following quote is from film director Jim Jarmusch:

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and your theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable: originality is non-existent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: 'It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to."

Posted via email from seaninsound's posterous

FAQs: Music Journalism, Critics, DiS' role, Taste-Making, New Music, Old Media, 2.0 woe...

As per my previous post on old media vs new media, here's my response to some questions from Anna Nikolarakis...


Do you think music journalism has changed in the past 50 years, why do you think this may be?

The passion and purpose for many is still the same, if not evolved a little in terms of the focus and the understanding of the possibilities of 'rock-writing'. More generally, as an 'art-form' it's very different. There have obviously been massive industry and technological shifts since the early critics started penning their passionate analysis in the few publications that existed. It's kinda funny how there's not that much difference between the writing in Bomp! to what's on Stereogum or some of the essays in Loops or by folks like Simon Reynolds and Laura Barton in the Guardian to the writing in Creem and Sounds. 

For me, the biggest change is from a world of a few notable 'authorities' waxing lyrical on records you had to purchase to be able to hear, to a slew of sound-bitten snot-balls in Q and tabloids which passes as 'journalism', seemingly with the simple mission of encouraging those people who buy 5 CDs a year to maybe buy one that isn't Coldplay, Girls Aloud, Madonna, Dido or U2. Maybe this writing has always existed, I don't know, I was only born in '82.

The sheer volume of music 'journalism' is obviously the biggest sea change, with a lot of 'writing' replaced by have-a-go hobbyists, who - much like the slurry of undeveloped bands lacking in virtuosity clogging up the interwebz - have little 'art' in their 'criticism'-cum-one-sentence-recommendation. This once would have been in fanzines, read by a few people who understood it was a small cog, whereas people have no idea how big or small most blogs (the modern fanzine) are. That said, there's still a lot of good writing about (the annual Da Capo collections compile an awful lot of it!) but the clutter of 'opinions' has diminished the impact of the lucky few who honed the craft to inform us. 

What inspired you to become a journalist?

Probably a mixture of being told to "bore off" by kids at school who didn't know who the bands were I was banging on about, let alone why I had all these theories about why they were historically important. This passionate outpouring met the web and my weekly mixture of awe and disdain came rattling out over ICQ whenever music mags inevitably slagged off bands I loved.

A more covert influence was post-school TV. I'm pretty sure nearly every show from Clarissa Explains it All to Sweet Valley High had kids dreaming of becoming journalists/writers. Plus I was working in a record store, promoting gigs and couldn't afford to buy a Reading ticket and I read in one of the piles of magazines beside my bed that journalists got free tickets, so it seemed like something tangible to tell my careers advisor, rather than 'I wanna test computer games' or 'be Richard Branson'... I didn't really wait for anyone to say I could be a 'journalist' and when I was 16 I became one of those have-a-go-hobbyists cluttering up the internetz with terrible spelling and atrocious grammar in my fortnightly email blog (some of which was just pasted from instant messenger conversations), which grew to be DiS.

To be honest and being a little pedantic, I'm not really and never really wanted to be a fact-chasing "journalist" and I'm more of a 'critic', more interested in sifting out the best music, offering opinions on why something is gash and exploring concepts 'n ideas.

Did any ‘personality’ music journalists inspire you and who?

Swells (Steven Wells) was hugely inspirational. I often massively disagreed with his reviews but the pummelling of shock 'n awe imagery and the ridiculously aggressive tone was inspiring. I'd never read rants like that, it felt like a pop-up book, the Viz and this otherworldly articulation of half-formed thoughts in my head. I realised after his death that I probably read a lot of his stuff in football mags at a formative age (when I was about 8 I bought pretty much every football mag). I met him when I was writing for Bang magazine and he pretty much lived up to the persona you read on the page....

Someone (extremely generous) mentioned my first bits of erratic writing were a bit like Lester Bangs, so I bought his collections just as I was starting my email blog back in '98 (worth noting another friend said the jumbled imagery "read like a Jackson Pollock" and I still can't tell if that was meant to be an insult). From there I read a lot of Nick Kent, Everett True and various others, who were massively inspiring. More recently I've been inspired, and at the same time feel utterly inferior at incredibly high the bar is set by Charlie Brooker, Chuck Klosterman and discovered the Richard Meltzer collections. I'd recommend Meltzer's collection a 'Whore Like the Rest' to anyone.

Do you look for famous writers for your website?

Not really because we can't afford to pay them. Also I'm not sure many writers are particularly "famous" beyond a niche of fellow writers and die-hard music journalism enthusiasts. We paid Everett True to write for us for a bit last year but somewhat surprisingly he garnered the same amount of views as someone submitting their first article about the same acts, which is sad but sadly true - however, to be fair, I doubt the format of our website particularly helps. 

I guess it's worth noting that many of our writers have garnered notoriety and followings (former Editor Mike Diver and current reviews editor Andrzej Lukowski especially), as well as gone on to bigger things i.e. NME features editor James Jam, Metal Hammer features editor Terry Bezer and various others started out contributing to DiS. We've had various musicians write for us too and will continue to do so as it's loads more interesting than reading their responses to the same ol' questions.

Do you think reputation and branding has a lot to do with the success of a website or magazine/paper?

I think reputation comes from many factors but the main ones are relevance, reliability and more importantly, the length of time something has existed (and been relevant to people's tastes and reliable at sorting the wheat from the chaff). So much media comes and goes but 10 years on and just as the internet is coming of age, we're finally shutting up a lot of the 'you're just a glorified fanzine' doubters from further up the food chain and becoming a more established part of the media landscape. Plus being around that long also means you have a good Google pagerank and an archive of content which picks up traffic - I'm not sure how we would survive as a semi-professional operation without that if we launched today. Then again, I'm not sure if I launched a site today it'd be much like DiS currently is and am massively rethinking things at present.

I guess "success" is hard to define as there's now sites from Resident Advisor to Gorilla vs Bear, which offer a awful lot of high quality but super-niche media which successfully delivers what its audience wants. Their audiences are probably as big as they could be without compromising what they do. In the same way a lot of cult bands are as big as they are, I'm not sure there are really many publications which could hugely expand their circulation beyond the numbers they currently get, without radical and innovative shifts in the service they provide.

Over the past few years, one of the major factors in terms of a drop in readership across the board is people's access to music on services like MySpace mixed with the ridiculous volume of music coverage both online and in every publication from The Sun to Glamour, all of which reduces the need to buy a publication or visit the website of a 'brand' that specialises in music editorial, especially in terms of informing your purchases. Most people (rather than die-hard music enthusiasts, who crave comprehensive coverage and are never satisfied) want the ready-meal summary and/or to listen to and explore music for themselves (which has led to a lot of people being trapped in their own niches, never challenged or forced to invest time in understanding music beyond a shallow gut reaction to it/its aesthetic). I'm not sure anyone trusts or respects a "top-down" music media brand as much as they once did and increasingly people are living in a pick'n'mix mess of media and individual pundits, as well as fellow web users.

I believe media's biggest challenge going forward is to collectively grow the audience that cares about opinions and thoughtful explorations of music, rather than go further and further down niches of music that's irrelevant to the average music fan but pleasing to the hardcore vocal minority. There's also this issue of music fans becoming entrenched in a middle-of-the-road status quo for their individual tastes, which is incredibly disturbing, especially given herd mentalities and musical palettes which could become increasingly bland because of the lack of sounds and ideas which challenge people......but that's another topic altogether.

What do you think about the quality of music journalism today?

For every great piece there are 10k shit bits spewed onto the web. Wading for greatness isn't as fun or feasible as it once was and I agree with a lot of Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur book (although I'm well aware of the hypocrisy because of how I started out but at the same time readers opting to side-stepping the professionals won't know what they've lost 'til its gone. Plus I think a lot of the amateurs are those clueless corps trying to be 'new media' and failing, leaving a lot of damage in their wake...). The great bits by experts are probably as good, if not better than they have ever been (a slight caveat, as I'm concerned that it's hard to tell whether I'm more interested in active opinions or more able to comprehend writing than I used to be) but it's still rare to read something amazing which isn't by a professional journalist or that is in a popular music-only publication, mostly because these specialist titles circulation's and revenues aren't big enough to get a Sacha Frere-Jones (New Yorker) or pay (even if it's just in terms of audience reach) Douglas Coupland to natter with Morrissey like the Observer can. 

Authority and context for opinions is hard to come by and I think increasingly people hone in on individual contributors or blogs run by 1 or 2 people, rather than a wafty spread of conflicting opinions from a corralled collective, especially as there are technologies like HypeM, WeareHunted and last.fm which can democratically aggregate recommendation or hyper-personalize it like Amazon does.

A lot of the best music writing isn't in music mags. I really love the writing in The New Yorker, New York Times, Guardian, Sunday Times but also non-music mags like Wired and Huck magazine, which is run by the people behind Little White Lies and is a magazine that specialises in surf and skate culture, and a lot of their approach is much more like travel writing, which I really like. NME's upped its game since Krissi's started editing it with contributions from various (former) DiS staff members and the guys from theQuietus.com which I helped launch on BSKYB's dime that has some of the best writing on the web. And as I said earlier the annual Da Capo Best Music Writing collections are brilliant, the piece about Lil Wayne from Oxford American journal which I tweeted last week is especially great. I think journalism is in great shape but like anything, finding the great stuff and it resonating with an audience large enough to justify paying what people used to get in the 70s and 80s isn't too great. Put it this way, if we paid for some of the contributions on our site we'd barely be able to pay them £3 in ad revenue for their review (and even some of the most read content of the year only garners about £50 in ad revenue), such is the ad-supported economics, for even our site which gets 400k unique users a month but never ever gets 400k people looking at any individual article.

Do you think the branding in the mainstream music press has affected music journalism?

Not really sure it has made any significant difference. I think the mainstream press is more interested in fighting for market relevance whilst compromising specialism for comprehensive coverage in a desperate attempt to compete with the web and with eachother. None of this is really driven by branding or advertising (obviously a drop of audience is a bigger factor in this fight!), and having spent time with agencies, it's fair to say they're less interested in the details (we did a special week and had a Sonic Youth tour diary, and heard "Sonic what?" in response) and they're more interested in the ambiance (or "halo effect" to use crass marketing terminology) of the media brand/publication, hoping to reach target demographics across a range of mediums.

Vice probably do more work with brands than most yet their style of editorial and music they cover isn't mass market or massively important in the grand scheme of things but the brand has a counter culture aesthetic of 'hip' youth, and that's enough for most brands. In the states, a lot of magazines like Fader and Filter actually do a lot of brand marketing (Clash here does bits of it too, curating events for brands - closest I've ever come to this is putting on !!! for Amnesty) and as the magazines don't write about the brands themselves, there's rarely a conflict. However, I'd be curious whether there's any research that says anti-corp bands or images of the-not-hot-looking-musicians have been left out because of this modern folly.... I do know that having pretty girls increases the page space and feature opportunities open to artists in certain publications, mostly in an attempt to offset all the beardie-weirdies. 

Have you ever not been able to write something due to advertising a certain band/gig? Do you think this happens a lot in the music press?

We've had campaigns pulled at the last minute due to reviews (most recently Vampire Weekend who we only gave a 6/10) but on the whole these things are isolated and rare. We tend to only get music-related ads from companies who understand and are interested in reaching our audience and they're well aware they can't buy positive reviews or ensure coverage. Often I only know we have a campaign when it goes live as all the ad sales is done by third parties (a company in Manchester called w00t!media now looks after DiS' ad sales). I doubt the reviews editors at NME have a clue who's advertising either when doctoring scores. Obviously if we're championing a band, we tend to find someone who's likely to be a fan to write the album review but that's as sinister as it gets. I can only think of about 3 reviews we've taken down and none of them were to do with branding, and everything to do with unjustified comments which weren't particularly politik. 

However, with my label boss Wurzel head on, I know there are instances where magazines have asked me to take out ads to cover the cost of having a band on a cover mount cd, which comes with a new band feature or been asked for £22k to include a label sampler with a certain music weekly, which would also get me several pages of editorial for much less than taking out several pages of editorial would... I can't believe some labels paid to do this! This happens quite a lot more than I anticipated and the funny thing is, these features make negligible difference in the grand scheme of things. The only thing which makes a huge difference is a great song, ideally at the right time, in the right place... 

That said, there's a lot more that happens within the PR world in terms of exclusive content and alliances than in the branding/advertising world - no-one really bites the hand that feeds and my lack of desire to 'play the game' has probably held DiS back and benefited our 'competitiors' but is also probably one of the reasons what we say matters and why we've managed to last so long. It'd be piss-easy to run everything people want us to run but our readers don't want a deluge of shit, they want us to filter things down for them.

What do you think of the rebranding of NME?

I read it regularly but not really aware of a rebranding, although I know it's due to happen (again) soon.

Do you think we are a much more celebrity obsessed society in the 21st century and it’s harder to write what you want?

I think it's easier to write about whatever you want but much harder to find an audience who want to read about 'anything' or editors who'd pay you to write about or dedicate space to stuff that doesn't hang on certain hooks. For instance, I couldn't just write my column for the Sunday Times about absolutely anything I want, it has to be something which will make sense to a more general audience but it does mean, if I make things accessible, then I can recommend new bands I love if I can make it relevant to topics and trends. 

I think it's getting harder for editors to decide exactly what to cover and things are somewhat of a contradictory mess. For instance we get tonnes of traffic but some articles struggle to get 1000 hits, whereas Prodigy and Brand New, acts we don't really push to the fore, get really well read. Whereas, in print, they have no true idea how popular some articles or regular features are, apart from in research groups and letters they get in but the only true metric they have is the difference putting an act like Oasis on the cover, rather than Lightspeed Champion, makes to sales in Tescos. 

From my point of view as a label boss that works mainly with brand new acts, I think it's hard - especially considering how many bands don't sell much and how quickly the churnover of new bands is - for many new or cult acts to get coverage without a relevant narrative or specialism or simply being 'on trend' in terms of a made-up sub-genre-leaning scenes or issue themes (and often being part of a 'scene' can be to a detriment as acts get glossed over or deemed something like 'yet another solo electro thing' or you get feedback like 'sorry, we've had too many female fronted rock bands lately'). Obviously it helps if an act is undeniably exceptional in all departments (lyrical prowess, musical virtuosity, narrative hooks (famous families help somewhat!), aesthetics, etc...) but that's all deemed quite subjective. Having a big label with a marketing budget and the resources to shimmy-along opinions (or to do the things which help tick the boxes which lead to coverage i.e. relevant supports, notable collaborations, provide exclusive bits of content, rack up myspace plays through relevant fans of other acts, etc...) is more likely to get you tipped and onto the runaway train of hype, fuelled and propelled by self-perpetuating loops.. Recording in smokey mountain sheds, painting eyeballs on your breasts and flame-thrower bras are more likely to get you written about than being the music mag office band du-jour. And even when bands do get pushed to the fore, the difference is negligible unless the rest of the media follows suit. Personally, I think it's astounding that there's more media space given to introducing bands who've barely recorded a demo or played a gig, than is given to those who've developed and are releasing albums 2 and 3. Every punch is pulled or barely felt for fear or not covering everything, at the expense of highlighting the truly remarkable. 

I don't disagree about celebrity obsession and even fleeting fame has more scope for coverage than innovative or imaginative sorts. Musical virtuosity is always trumped by "a good story", like her mum was in the Bill or she's Sting's daughter. I think it'd be hard for any magazine to tumble too far adrift of what people seem to want or be currently interested in. Even Mojo and Uncut, who did well in the ABCs haven't veered too far from Neil Young, Dylan, Bon Iver and Midlake who're the 'celebs' of their world in terms of dedicating space in their magazines, rather than branching out to covering m83, Justice and Crystal Castles, even if they did love them. 

I think it's a bigger challenge than ever for publications to turn people on to new music (and by this I still kinda class bands like The National and LCD Soundsystem who haven't really crossed-over as "new" but then the mainstream audiences won't be affected by the press, whereas the R1 execs and TV producers who look at the press and web for guidance, are looking for things to satisfy these audiences) but a good start would be to rip up the rulebook and reign things in A LOT, competing with the abundance of the web (or other websites) and focussing on the finest, rather than trying to stick a branded pin in everything - the 24+ new bands and 10+ albums by bands even I've only vaguely heard of the NME covers each week is just ridiculous, although I'm sure their research and label/pr-pleasing policies say otherwise. From the top-end of our stats it's clear people want what they know plus some recommendations, and some analysis and a few interesting opinions, and it doesn't matter if these come from someone whose written 500 reviews or someone who just joined the forum, those lines have well and truly blurred. Magazines and all media today should be instigating and/or expanding the conversation topics, rather than chasing the dregs of it but that's much easier said than done and there are only so many sensationalist talking points (i.e. lists) your readership can take in a period of time.

The music writer as a ‘consumer guide’ is not as relevant today because we can usually get hold of albums before reviews come to print in some cases, do you think websites, such as yours are now opinion leaders instead of the press?

I'm not sure anyone is really 'leading'. Different genres have different flagships and obviously there's a lot of hot air attached to sites like ours and Pitchfork's in terms of our impact but I don't really buy into it. Our coverage does impact on other media (probably more than it impacts on individuals) but it's also a feedback loop as we often cover stuff because of 'them' and because of our boarder. Also, with media fractured the way it is today, consensus is just as broken into bits as the audience is, which leads the plodding agreeable blah to rise to the middle of the internet superhighway or democratically voted 'polls'. 

A lot of people check out bands that have either been mentioned in one place a lot or across a wide swathe of outlets (a bit like inbuilt trending topics, I guess). I'd love to believe we're driving what bands are covered across the board (I know we have 6music producers and Guardian journos, as well as label bosses as regular readers) and am sure there are isolated examples but when it comes down to it, we're just an authority for a select (and sometimes influential) group of people but I'm not delusional and I know we can't change the face of music or break a band, least not on our own - which is depressing because that's what I - and many sites like ours - set out to do and. This is why I decided to start a label instead of writing about bands, to try to do more. If anything, we're just as likely to put some journos off covering a band if one of our many contributors or users raves about them, as we are to get them as far as listening to the act and forming their own opinion.

How do you think the role of the music journalist has changed?

There's a lot more need to be able to react instinctively in an instant with the rise of live-blogging or daily reports from festivals. Within news journalism especially, there's a huge value to being first or adding some details to a story, everything in-between quickly loses its traffic value. There's less time for or interest in considered thought. People who are winning on the web lately are those who provide a unique understanding (even if it's HipsterRunoff's take on an indie album) and hose who provide research, as they're often creating content that doesn't exist elsewhere.... 

The most successful modern journalists are those who've managed to build a reputation for being incredibly informed and entertaining to read. Contrastingly and depressingly, the most successful (in terms of traffic) websites have become those with the most amount of content and smallest amount of quality (see also: Gigwise's Rate or Slate: Lady Gaga's Best and Worst Looks - VOTE NOW! http://tinyurl.com/yf64u94). 

As the world has become more individualistic and I think with the tides turning, the importance of editors has receded greatly and things are much more focused on spotting talented and/or specialist individuals, rather than employing incredible sub-editors and forming a party-line for the publications. Journalism, especially online with sites like Guardian or the Gawker network, things have become much more about having a reaction to every bit of information within a field, in the hope of offering a different insight just by spinning the story in a different way. We've obviously shifted from a world with one TV channel to something like infinite forest of people stood on soapboxes, some of them have megaphones, others are just sticking tin can telephones to loudest sources but ultimately the challenge for everyone is to rise above the noise. The only way to climb out of the mush is to innovate and to specialise.

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Thursday, 4 February 2010

New ad agency for DiS & Pitchfork

Drowned in Sound and Pitchfork wins complete w00t!media’s portfolio of web’s biggest music publishers

Two of the world’s most established editorial-led music websites, Pitchfork and Drowned in Sound, have appointed w00t!media as their exclusive online advertising sales partner in the UK

The wins complete independent digital sales house w00t!media’s portfolio of influential and popular music sites; creating an unrivalled collection of publisher clients which also includes Universal Music UK and Hype Machine.

Multi-award-winning music webzine Drowned in Sound, which has over 320,000 unique users and three million page views every month, will work with w00t!media to bring big brand advertisers to the site. The deal sees the end of Drowned in Sound’s previous contract with Sky Media.

Drowned in Sound launched in October 2000 and the site’s most popular features include album reviews, members social board and the integrated reader forums.

“We respect all of the sites w00t!media represents, so the company is a perfect fit - it really understands the web-savvy, discerning, musically obsessed audience that religiously visit and interact with our site,” said Sean Adams, Founder and Editor of Drowned in Sound. “We’ve worked with Sky Media since it bought Auraplay and we saw the care and attention to detail, as well as the people we had personal relationships with dissipate over time. We have heaps planned for this year as it’s our tenth anniversary - w00t!media will be sourcing ideas and relevant brand partners for our themed content, new artist-led city guides and bespoke Blackberry version of the site.”

Pitchfork is one of the largest online music publications with a monthly audience of over two million unique users. Launched in 1995, Pitchfork is often regarded by industry professionals as the most influential music taste-maker on the web.

“Pitchfork is known for our must-read album reviews and exclusive content, including original music videos and streaming audio featuring the most exciting established and upcoming artists in music,” said Pitchfork Publisher Christopher Kaskie. “Our readers are individuals, and w00t!media seems to understand their unique concerns. Custom, thoughtful, and engaging advertising is the best way to engage our readers while respecting their user experience.”

w00t!media has also picked up lifestyle webzine Platform as a new client – again to exclusively manage UK ad sales. Platform went live at the beginning of last year and now sees over 120,000 unique visitors each month. The website has seen traffic grow by 45% over the last three months and is tipped by publications including the Guardian as an influential youth site in 2010.

w00t!media is now replacing huge ad-networks as the sales house of choice for major entertainment sites on the web - creative, bespoke opportunities are the clear way forward for cool, talked about websites with loyal audiences,” said Austen Kay, Director of w00t!media“These savvy regular readers are tuned into every aspect of their favourite sites and have become blind to banners. Online advertising in 2010 is about relating to each individual audience and giving them something entertaining, relevant and appealing. They shop online, use social networks every day and pay for music almost exclusively online – w00t!media recognises this and responds to advertising requirements with imagination and care.

About w00t!media
w00t!media is an independent digital sales house. We provide premium representation for entertainment and lifestyle publishers, offering an alternative media-buy to commoditised ad-networks. In particular, w00t!media specialises in creative solutions for digital media agencies. w00t!media was founded in 2005 by Austen Kay and Dan McDevitt. Publisher clients include Hype Machine, Pitchfork, Urban Junkies, Universal Music UK, Holy Moly and Popbitch. http://www.w00tmedia.net

To take out ads contact benw@w00tmedia.net

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Monday, 1 February 2010

January's Recommended Records

Hello February!

As the ice thaws and the sun doth shine, DiS is looking back at the 'bleakest month' of the year (we love bleakness and there were so great records, up yours cliches!) and with a little help from discussion on our music board, we've picked our favourite albums of January 2010. 

Our must-hear ALBUM OF THE MONTH (there can be only one...) comes from Southend gothic-hip-hop-artsters These New Puritans with their second album, Hidden

Read about TNP, find links to listen to them and discover what our other favourites from January were here: http://drownedinsound.com/lists/recommended-records

Have a great month,
DiS xo

Editor // http://drownedinsound.com
Columnist // The Sunday Times Culture

Twitter // @seaninsound
Listen // Songs of the year/decade, albums, mixtapes and more Spotify playlists http://post.ly/GRz9

Posted via email from seaninsound's posterous

Sunday, 31 January 2010

"Twitter is crack for media addicts." | The New Yorker @NewYorker

Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop. The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell. I’m told that Twitter is a river into which I can dip my cup whenever I want. But that supposes we’re all kneeling on the banks. In fact, if you’re at all like me, you’re trying to keep your footing out in midstream, with the water level always dangerously close to your nostrils. Twitter sounds less like sipping than drowning.

The most frightening picture of the future that I’ve read thus far in the new decade has nothing to do with terrorism or banking or the world’s water reserves—it’s an article by David Carr, the Timess media critic, published on the decade’s first day, called “Why Twitter Will Endure.” “I’m in narrative on more things in a given moment than I ever thought possible,” Carr wrote. And: “Twitter becomes an always-on data stream from really bright people.” And: “The real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice … the throbbing networked intelligence.” And: “On Twitter, you are your avatar and your avatar is you.” And finally: “There is always something more interesting on Twitter than whatever you happen to be working on.”

This last is what really worries me. Who doesn’t want to be taken out of the boredom or sameness or pain of the present at any given moment? That’s what drugs are for, and that’s why people become addicted to them. Carr himself was once a crack addict (he wrote about it in “The Night of the Gun”). Twitter is crack for media addicts. It scares me, not because I’m morally superior to it, but because I don’t think I could handle it. I’m afraid I’d end up letting my son go hungry.

Anyone wanna set-up a Twitterers Anonymous charity?

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

“The music industry needs to die” - Amanda Palmer | wienerpost @amandapalmer

Some choice quotes from Amanda Palmer in an interview with  wienerpost.at

I heard that you are single-handedly going to save the music industry. How are you planning to do this?
I’m not gonna save anything. I don’t think the music industry actually needs saving. I think the music industry – as it is – just needs to die. It needs a complete rebuild from the ground up which obviously is already happening.
And it’s not that the music industry as we know it is dying and then a new industry which kind of resembles it is going to spring up in its place. What I see happening is that music as we know it, as we experience it, the way we find it, listen to it and connect with it, has changed completely – and will change for this whole new next generation of people.
It’s “small” – and it’s much more empowering the artists who are making it because they can directly give, make and communicate with their fans. Unlike the old days where everything had to be giant or non-existent.
And everybody is doing it themselves! They’re doing it in different ways but artists are having to just simply do that themselves. Just the way it used to be – way back in the day: you had to have supporters, you had to have patrons, you had to go from town to town with your story and hawk it – and hope that it sold.
What do you think of Radiohead’s idea to offer their album by digital download, allowing fans to pay whatever they think is a fair price? Do you think that might be a business plan for future artists?
I don’t think there’s gonna be ONE way. It’s gonna be infinite possibilities. And it’s gonna be up to the artists in question to decide how they want to exchange their goods for money. There’s gonna be an infinite variety of ways that you can have music, experience, profit, connection… There’s so many things you can do as an artist! There’s so many ways you can choose to do it.
I think some bands are gonna do it the Radiohead-way and for some bands who are at certain points in their careers it’s gonna work…
This is a quote from an article about you: “Amanda Palmer, it turns out, isn’t in the business of selling music so much as she’s in the business of selling the experience of being a fan of Amanda Palmer’s music.” Would you agree?
Well, if that is true, then it’s also true for Radiohead and any other band out there. Because it’s never just about the music. Never ever. I don’t buy that for a second. Because behind the music is always the people. And the emotion and the intention. And when you buy the music, you’re buying everything. Or when you’re downloading it for free. It’s impossible to separate the art from the artists who are making it and the stories behind them. It’s everything, all mixed up together.
Sure I can believe that that’s true – but if it’s true for me it’s pretty much true for every artist out there. I don’t think I’m special that way.
But you spend A LOT of time connecting with your fans online. Do you think it enhances your creativity or does it mean you have less time for your music?
It’s a choice I make and I often regret. But then again every artist has to make that really difficult decision about how to spend their time. And there’s everything from hiding in a cabin in Bali and playing your guitar all alone to living in the middle of New York City and doing flash gigs on Twitter every afternoon, being hyper-connected and not spending a lot of time on your musical craft.
So you got your musical craft on the one end – and on the other end you have what you’ve got to do to actually take your music to people and wave it around.
And EVERY SINGLE ARTIST I KNOW struggles with this question. I don’t know a single fucking person who makes art who doesn’t worry that they’re too much on this side or too much on that side.
The people who I know who spend a lot of time on their music are jealous of me because I’m so disciplined with my blog and I look at them and I am jealous because they are so disciplined with their playing and I feel sometimes they are so much more passionate about the making and the writing. But we’re all looking at each other going “Well, YOU’ve got it figured out.”
Yesterday you said, you never would have learned to play the piano had there been internet when you were a child.
I may have learned… I don’t know if I would have written songs. That’s a really good question.
You argued that boredom was part of creativity…
I think so. I think boredom is very important for imagination. But everything changes, right? And so I wouldn’t wanna sit here and be like this grumpy old person judging the teenagers nowadays for sitting around on the internet all day for all I know their minds are developing creatively in a new way that I never could have imagined. Because of the constant input and the constant sharing and the constant stimulus and the inspiration.
I didn’t have all that because it was just me and and the records and my thoughts. And maybe really rudimentary pac-man on my parents’ computer. That was it. No internet, no international connections, no finding fans of the bands that I loved. But I don’t think one is good or bad. You get really really fucked if you look at the world that way. I could sit here and judge and say: “These kids are all gonna be fucked and they’re not gonna make good music.” But actually that’s bullshit. I know a lot of sixteen-year-olds who are great songwriters, they practise their instruments, they’re passionate about making music, about writing, about making art. So as long as I see it existing I can’t sit here and preach that there’s some sort of artistic death going on in the next generation. It’s just not true.

Amanda Palmer might not be THE FUTCHA OF MUSIC but she's asked a lot of questions like this and closer than most to answering them (or at least hinting at the sentiment of the answers) by being the canary down the mine.

15 FAQs: Some of my thoughts on the impact of the web on old media

It's that time of year again when my inbox fills up with questions for coursework and dissertations. I find it a bit odd that I get so many of these as I never studied, in a traditional sense, beyond A-levels. Anyway, as this one was lengthy and asks a lot of the FAQ's about the impact of the web/blogs/user-generated content/etc on old media, specifically music mags, I thought it maybe best to sling this online for anyone else whose sent me questions I've not been able to get back to and for anyone thinking of sending them. Feel free to ask additional Qs in the comments and I'll try to get back to as many as I can... 

These questions came from Ashley Martin

1.      How would you describe the internet’s effect on print media and music journalism in general?

I guess at first, back in the 90s, it seemed like a collection of pamphlets and places to subscribe to magazines. Then messageboards and communities turned things into letters pages, high on a cocktail of acid, meth and blue smarties. I don't think anyone really thought it would be an alternative to print, and few major publications foresaw the benefits of audio and video. The web seems to have made some publications raise their game and given the broadsheets a better sense of which bits of the paper people read, and it's interesting that the growth and investment in music coverage in non-music mags has been one of the biggest shifts.

2.      Do you think this change is beneficial?

For me, personally, of course. There's no way I would have been able to set-up something like DiS without the web. If it wasn't for the web I'd probably have gone from fanzine 'editor' to improving my writing (probably would have gone to Uni) and pitching to express my opinions and passions in other publications.

On a bigger scale, I think the web has taken away the value and point of words about music. It's less to do with the shift in media (there's probably more words available and consumed about music than ever before) but moreso a shift in the need for journalism, when you can inform yourself by listening, rather than spending 5 hours every Wednesday trying to decide your cd purchase for the week by hiding Melody Maker under your exercise book, pretending to do maths.

I'm not sure music writing in traditional music mags is as good as it was but partly that's due to them covering 70+ acts an issue, trying to compete with the abundance of the web and its endless soundbite reservoir of recommendations.

3.      Would you say the relationship between the music fan and the music critic has changed?

I don't think people need 'critics' any more, they just want some guidance. I think 'critics' probably only influenced others within the intelligentsia and I don't think that has really changed. People want to know what's good, maybe hear an explanation of why it's good (especially if they're unsure about something on first listen) or they want to peer into the worlds and inside the minds of their favourite artists but increasingly they can do this via artist-generated content in blogs, tweets and on youtube.

4.      Is the notion of a tastemaker critic dead?

I'd love to say they're alive and well but I think it's more a case that the tastemaker is more important than ever but the critical element (to slay terrible records, destroy demi-gods and deconstruct the things they adore) is OVA! People, especially those with influence in mainstream media, still rely on those who have searched out great things by listening to all the crap. The trouble is - with things like Hype Machine chart, BBC Sound of Polls - there are now so many 'tastemakers' that its become less about trusted individuals and more about democracy, which in my opinion is incredibly flawed as the agreeable is rising to the top, rather than the exceptional and the acts who 'win' are merely those who have the funds to invest long-term in acts, putting all the right dominoes in line....

5.      Do you think the internet has had a dumbing effect on music journalism?

In many ways, I think Andrew Keen was right about this with his book Cult of the Amateur but journopocalypse is a way off. I spent Christmas reading mags like Huck and collections of music writing like the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2009 journal, and the standards are higher than ever, especially considering what all the bullshit from people like John Harris about the death of journalism would suggest. Of course the web isn't suited to text heavy content but at the same time was VBS's Donkumentary or Kevin Rose's Digg interview with Trent Reznor 'dumb' or 'bad' journalism? I wouldn't say so. At the same time, Peter Robinson's Popjustice site and his writing about pop elsewhere is funnier and much more sophisticated and biting than Smash Hits ever was. Then there's Sasha Frere-Jones at New Yorker and I suspect there more great books about music than there's ever been (I guess technically Luke Haines and Kill Your Friends isn't 'journalism').

I suspect the lack of a troop of great writers, all gunslinging at one publication like Creem, is more about economics because writing about music doesn't pay as well as say TV or other such pop culture, which is perhaps why the likes of Charlie Brooker, Miranda Sawyer and Laura Barton aren't writing about music as much? Even Swells was writing about Football to pay his rent, etc. And from my own experience, great writers, who value what they write, don't want to do it for free but sometimes do, by writing blogs, like musicians giving mp3s away, to let people sample their writing, in the hope of or to compliment, paid work.

6.      Do music fans simply demand things that print media can’t offer?

They don't know what they want. I suspect if Pitchfork went into print it'd outsell Rolling Stone and NME, and that's not because it's web-friendly but because it covers the music people currently want to read about, in a flicking-through-the-record-racks kinda way. I mean, how many print publications gave a record like Postal Service 'Give Up' the end of decade plaudits it deserved?

Of course the web with playlists and click to play buttons, trumps comprehending some confusing description. But it depends whether you class "music fans" as web-savvy, ringtone-listening, book-hating (Twilight and Harry Potter defy this logic) 14-21 year olds, like NME/etc still does or realise, like the hugely successful The Word, that people in their 50s may be listening to Leonard Cohen and Wilco but they bought Clash and Kraftwerk records in their teens and are interested in bands like My Morning Jacket and Grizzly Bear. When I was involved in the launch of theQuietus.com and when I signed Martha Wainwright, this was something I was very aware of.

7.      Do you think user generated content will eventually supersede professional journalism?

I think its already, er, drowned it out somewhat. The reservoir of shite has always and will always exist, I just think that, as with crap bands, the truly great stuff will always be valued and be more successful (some will miss out on the success they deserve but the often very cynically motivated hobbyist crap, which gets no interest - or, if they wanted to do it as a job, enough ad rev - as you need about 100k readers before you can quit you day job!). The reason HipsterRunoff does so well is because it's very funny, GorillavsBear is always 'on it' with their recommendations, MBVmusic looks great and has great content... Popbitch didn't destroy celebrity gossip mags. Is HuffingtonPost going to kill the Guardian or FT, I don't think so but I suspect its made them pull their socks in a different direction. For some papers the web has meant less requirement to search out stories or research them as much due to the instant resources of the web.

The web may eat away at traditional media but most things compliment others and the process of adaption will ensure things which are popular and/or valued survive. Compromise and balance is more important than ever, for instance, if DiS just covered bands only a tiny niche have heard of, who play to 200 people, we'd struggling to get the 400k readers a month that currently visit the site. NME's website reaches more people than their magazine ever has and with sponsored awards shows and wotnot it's probably more profitable than its ever been too. ABC sales figures of the print title aren't the be all and end all. In the same way major labels are learning from what the likes of Trent Reznor is doing, Spin is learning from Stereogum...

8.      Do you personally welcome user generated material?

DiS was built upon it and will continue to be. However, we don't let everyone post our featured content (we select contributors based on quality of their submissions) and not every music fans wants or needs to voice their opinion. Our forums are hugely popular but only about 10% of those who post are active users. I started out as a music fan with no idea how to write or edit a 'magazine', and I've learnt everything by muddling through and making every mistake, so I'm still closer to being a webuser generating content, than a qualified, educated, professional journalist.

9.      Does the internet provide an engaging forum for discussion or an outlet for offensive and argumentative behaviour?

Both but mostly the latter. Within closed or selective communities things are always nicer but it's like choosing a pub, if you goto a Whetherspoons at 11 on a Friday night, it'll inevitably get rowdy.

10.     Do you think the anonymity of the internet spawns faceless or characterless journalism?

To some extents I guess it does. Lotsa people burrow themselves behind the media 'brand' and oddly even our readers still consider reviews to be the editorially-sanctioned 'DiS opinion', rather than that of the individual who wrote the review (something I'm trying to improve). I think characters are still out there writing but like trying to find a great band, it really isn't easy to find that sharp spark amongst the screaming throng of loser-generated blogs. It's very easy to throw rocks, it's incredibly hard (and takes an investment of time, which requires money, support and an element of freedom) to be Lester Bangs, Nick Kent or Charlie Brooker.

11.     Would you say the integration of social networking sites like Twitter/Facebook adds anything to online journalism or is it just a passing fad?

It makes it much easier to receive abuse! It does help great content spread and can be useful for keeping abreast of what's going on but not sure it's as important as people think. For instance, DiS has 11k+ Twitter followers, yet links we post rarely get 500+ clicks but on the flipside, we get a lot of new users from social networks. People are digesting more content but in different ways. I think music fans are spending less time coming to sites in case they've covered, say Radiohead, and spending more time looking at feeds of information, hoping to spot trends of bands being mentioned a lot, whilst waiting for a mention of Radiohead...

12.     Do you think people will ever be prepared to pay for online music criticism?

For news and pithy reviews, I don't think so. However, I think with the emergence of eReaders there's a chance lengthier articles may have a chance of being monetized. I also think people value curated content and realize that high-quality costs money, so has value. However, I think, with so many free alternatives, there's a lot less need to read to discover music or inform purchases, so it will remain ad-supported for quite some time. Should people pay for poetry? Should people pay to look at art? These are similar questions, I just think it's strange that recorded music and writing opinions about music, have similar questions based on the culture of the past 50 years, which isn't a great deal of time in the grand scheme of things.

13.     Do you think today’s audiences only want to read about stories as they break?

Sadly, I think that might be the case. It's interesting tho to see a rise of analysis of big stories in the media, led somewhat by mags like Newsweek. I think articulating an opinion on the story, to help people make sense of it (like all the fantastic Jay Reatard and Kate McGarrigle obituaries that ran lately). Been pondering this quite a lot with regard to festival coverage as a 'breaking' story but I think the people who want to read about festivals are most likely those there, unless it's Glastonbury.

14.     Does web-based writing spur as much passion for music as magazines do, in your opinion?

It can do, there's perhaps more honesty and passion online but, for some reason, it still doesn't have the same gravitas. I think there's still something to be said for the space that can be dedicated to a story in print. The web, in terms of design and shoving-stuff-in-readers-faces still hasn't achieved the same impact, so the element that most passionate recommendations which the editor decided everyone should read, isn't quite there. I think it's easy for great things to be missed or lost online, as it's hard to bring attention to things. And I think, with an air of 'maybe no-one's listening' or 'maybe i'm the only one reading this' the passion which goes into the writing or is received from it, is perhaps a little skewed but maybe that's just me.

15.     And finally do you think people today pay less attention to what magazines have to say and view the internet as a natural progression?

I'm not sure 'people' ever cared but an influential core are probably getting more out of the web and traditional media, than they ever were. I don't think it's an unnatural progression but it's happening so fast and I'm not sure enough people understand the seismic shift and how to get the best from it.
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