A Round Table of Music-Blogging Knights

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 Fluxblog.org, 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.