Via The Hype Machine’s blog, I came across an interesting round-table discussion on The Morning News among a group of music bloggers.

It’s interesting to hear their thoughts on the relationship music bloggers have with the Public Relations people in the record industry, and there is definitely some take-away for all PR pros there.

Matthew Perpetua, who writes, says, “I am glad to get records sent to me because sometimes I get something that I really enjoy.” However, as a hat-tip to the growing importance that PR pros are placing on reaching bloggers rather than traditional media, Perpetua adds, “I work for the regular press too, and aside from my experience with New York Magazine and Pitchfork, the difference seems to be that no one really cares about what I write for money, but they are sometimes very invested in what I do for free.”

When asked if they read other music blogs, the panellists said almost universally that they did not. I feel like this kind of mentality is what has set them apart from other music bloggers and is similar to my suggestion that PR props stop reading PR blogs.

And as great as all that is, I think that this round-table discussion is more important to understand the opinions of these bloggers about giving away content for free and the future of the music industry.

It is slightly depressing to hear Andrew Noz complain that CDs will “be all but unattainable to towns with only one Wal-Mart” without him acknowledging that a) the CD is essentially a dead format and b) thanks to blogs like his, people in towns of all sizes have access to way more music than they would have ever discovered before.

I also disagree with Sean Michaels and David Gutowski, who both think that the future of music is in paying for subscription services packaged with our phone and internet plans. To think that the way for artists to make money off of the art they make (whether it is music or film or writing) by sharing their revenues with wireless and internet providers is ridiculous. All that does is replace one inefficient middleman (today’s record companies) with another.

However, some of the bloggers do seem to get it. “I believe pretty strongly that the next frontier lies in monetizing live performance”, says John Seroff. In fact, his suggestion that perhaps we’ll see something “along the lines of $20 for an album, four live shows and access to ongoing projects” sounds pretty Masnickian and forward-thinking.

Andrew Noz and Oliver Wang seem to support this line of argument by saying that physical products in the form of deluxe or limited editions of albums will help fund artists’ careers.

Later on in the discussion, as the topic veers towards the “free culture” movement, John Seroff does a great job of comparing his writing being shared online with the way music is being shared online: “I figure anything I write or make that ever hits the internet is gone and I don’t resent people doing what they want with it… that’s the internet, and that’s how it works.” He also goes on to say that, although some artists might not like this new way of doing business (giving away their content freely, making a profit on things like live performances rather than individual CDs), “it might not jibe with your professional/creative goals, but thus has it ever been.”

His basic point is that you should adapt to the new internet economy. Things have changed, and artists should change with it.

The whole discussion is worth a serious read, as these guys talk about everything from their favourite music, to their actual blogging process (and how to avoid burnout after 5+ years). Read the Music Blogging Roundtable on The Morning News.


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4 Responses to “A Round Table of Music-Blogging Knights”

  • As a music blogger (and founding member of Gang of Four) I have to say that the fire hose of PR blasts that come in everyday from, at last count, 100+ PR agencies, artists, labels etc, is depressing. I say depressing because the majority of these PR folks/firms do not have a strategy for embracing the social web and music blogs in particular if I were to use mine as a metric.

    On the Internet the only scarcity is attention. PR companies meanwhile are still sending out over-long diatribes about bands that just don’t cut it. To receive a press release that has been cut and pasted into email form is demoralizing especially when one takes into account that an artist or a label has to pay for this kind of lazy service.

    The way to gain attention is to send out a simple short paragraph of interest. Include a decent quality jpeg and a MP3. I am not interested in a giant list of tour dates, a link to those dates works well. Please do not mail a CD to me.

    Also PR people – pay attention to what kind of music makes it on to my blog. For instance, because of takedown notices I no longer cover any major label artists. And please read the license agreement on my home page. I spent good money getting lawyers to draft it and it is there to protect both copyright holders, myself and my readers who download music.

    Meanwhile here’s my thoughts on the end of the album and why David Gutowski is right about how we may consume music in future –

  • john seroff:

    ‘John’ Seroff, actually. And it’s worth noting that I’m a blogga turned pro; I springboarded from The Tofu Hut to five years of venue PR. But thanks for the kind words!

  • Looks like a great blog I’ll have to browse it some more

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