It occurred to me yesterday that I’ve been running ANBAD for exactly five years now.
I’m not sure what to celebrate the most: the fact that I managed to stick to the premise of writing (hyperbole) about a new(-ish) band (almost) every (working) day (except weekends and holidays) or the fact that I haven’t gone clinically insane whilst doing it.
A minor landmark moment like this always induces some soul-searching, or at least simple head-scratching.
And five years is a long time online: Myspace was still the main online music resource, hashtags were a minority interest, and The Hype Machine had only begun to engage its gears in early 2008.
What does blogging about new music for five years mean? What conclusions can one draw?
These, sadly, are the best five things I could come up with:
1) Music blogging is both what you expected (a relentless grind listening to mainly hopeless bands) and what you didn’t (in the music industry, you will meet the nicest, smartest, most interesting people in the world and also the most jaw-droppingly self-interested, conniving, awful people too.)
2) Even though you knew this was true, and secretly hoped that you would be the one to buck the trend, you really will make no money by music blogging. This applies even if you’re really good at writing breathless prose, or are really well connected, or are really good at spotting the next variant of Whatever-Wave.
3) To make the money you didn’t make by blogging, you will end up doing online music PR just like everyone else, even though you secretly hoped that you would be the one to buck the trend.
4) The infinitesimally small number of bloggers that managed to segué into paid music writing careers managed it because they had rich enough parents to pay for their rent whilst they did years of unpaid internships. Get over it,loser, jeeeez.
5) Opportunities come and go; and not really in proportion to how hard you work, so you may as well work less remorselessly hard. The music industry is full of people who fell on their feet and have made a career out of it. Relax and wait until it happens to you. Additionally: forget schmoozing, networking, cock-sucking and brown-nosing. Step out of that particular race, sunshine, cos it’ll not pay off, assuming you value your dwindling sense of self-worth.
(NB: The last point is the only brain-nugget of much use, and as close to homespun wisdom as you’ll ever find on ANBAD.)
Has anything changed in the world of new music blogging since 2008? Not really. Blogging got easier, thanks to the holy trinity of Soundcloud, Bandcamp and numerous WordPress plug-ins.
The number of indelibly average new artists grew exponentially due to the ubiquity of the laptop musician, whose music has never existed outside of the digital domain.
Perhaps the biggest change has been the slow creep towards the new standard blog model: the devastatingly tedious Race-To-Be-First.
Just as the 1990’s UK men’s mags began as irreverent, blokey ephemera and slowly mutated into skin-catalogues of boobs and bums at the expense of words and thoughts, so a large proportion of music blogs now just want to be First.
Check out a post on one of these blogs, and you’ll find a Soundcloud link to the latest release from Buzz Band X and a few slung-out accompanying mind-burps, all rushed online as soon as the writer read about it on whichever cool blog they read.
It’s not that blogging was better in the past, by the way. It’s just that it was less often seen as a necessary stepping stone to a later career writing Listicles for whichever website is copying BuzzFeed that week.
Consider this new status quo as the music blogging equivalent of Reganomics: the precious buzz slowly trickles down from the top, and eventually we all get more buzz-rich – but the people who most vocally praise the system get more buzz more quickly.
Finally, here’s Jerry’s Final Music Blog Thought: (almost) everyone music blogging is scared. (Almost) everyone is motivated by fear that their tiny foot-hold in the music world will crumble and vanish at any moment, and that hard-won social cachet will vanish faster than a Record Store Day limited edition glitter-vinyl EP on Ebay.
So, stop worrying and learn to love the buzz-bomb – at its most vital, music blogging is still the fingers rummaging around the grassroots – and there are more, better blogs than ever, spooling more wonderful, inventive, smart, creative, reactive, wild, obtuse music than ever before. I’m just happy that I had the chance to join in.
Here’s to the next five years! Just imagine the giant steps Chillwave will have taken by 2018!