Questioning Gothamist’s Music-Coverage Hype Machine

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If you want to be successful in the New York City music-blog daisy-chain, there are several paths you could take: You could get a month-long showcase at Pianos. You could change your name to “The [Somethings].” Or, you could just hope and pray that Gothamist Arts & Entertainment editor Jen Carlson really, really loves your band.

You see, in one of the stranger conflicts-of-interest in the blog world, Carlson not only covers music for the site–writing numerous posts about such indie acts as Takka Takka, Cloud Cult and Bravo Silva–but she also co-founded 5th Floor Artist Management, a company that just happens to represent the likes of…Takka Takka, Cloud Cult and Bravo Silva. Sometimes this is disclosed, and sometimes it’s not. And sometimes, Carlson’s glowing Gothamist praise is recycled as a press quote on 5th Floor’s website without credit, which is pretty unethical, not to mention insufferably lame.

We’re not saying Carlson shouldn’t be allowed to work with bands she loves; we’re just saying that she shouldn’t be able to both manage bands and pimp them on Gothamist’s site, full disclosure or not. It makes it difficult to trust any of the site’s editorial content, and it’s hard to imagine Time Out New York or the Voice allowing for such a suspect arrangement. It’s not fair to the readers–who deserve to get no-strings-attached music coverage–and it’s not fair to the dozens (hundreds?) or New York City bands vying for a Gothamist mention. After all, Gothamist-endorsed acts do alright for themselves: They get booked for the site’s Moveable Hype concerts, get treated to fawning Q&As, and regularly appear in the “Pencil This In” listings.

So, is this some giant, Tammany Hall-like scandal? Nope. It just seems grossly unfair. If Gothamist wants to be taken seriously as a journalistic enterprise, they should start acting like one. And if Carlson wants to write about music, she should choose between profiles or press releases–not both.

Gothamist5th Floor Artist Management