Music Bloggers: The Useless Widgets Of Music Criticism?

noah | December 19, 2007 11:00 am

Let’s all take a moment to put our heads together and figure out the following sentence. “Right now The Music Slut is posting an iBook-tracked MP3 that could propel a Toledo basement band to multi-platinum stardom this time next year.” It’s pretty crazy, right? From the “hip” lingo (anyone care to define “iBook-tracked”?) to the idea that any band might reach multiplatinum status next year, particularly one catering to the paying-for-music-averse music-blogger world? I could probably write a whole post on that string of words alone (if someone would like to let me know about bands The Music Slut has “broken,” instead of “appended a slightly contextualized MP3 of in order to drive Hype Machine traffic to their site,” I’m all ears), but there are other infonuggets to be learned from Jim Wayne’s “Music Criticism 2.0?,” which looks at the “laptop-toting aural misanthropes” that you and I know as music bloggers. Apparently, said bloggers have turned the music industry on its head through the power of posting already-cleared MP3s and adding a few “oohs” and “ahhs!” Who knew, right?

Other lessons abound:

Music blogging is totes a cinch! Quoth Wayne: “It’s as easy as picking an artist in high reader demand (a sidebar on Hype Machine tells you the day’s hottest searches) and whipping up an MP3 post, maybe even a sentence or two of commentary. Presto. Here come the hits.” Dozens of them, am I right?

No matter how much crap I’m getting in the mail, someone out there can rub my nose in the fact that they’re getting better crap! “I get all kinds of fun shit in the mail,” Music For Robots co-founder Mark Willett told Wayne. “Free cell phones, MP3 players, etc. I even got a free laptop for Christmas last night from Vista.” Also: He says that he “never, ever” lets money or gifts sway his opinions. Quotes to journalists, however, are apparently fair game!

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with slow news days! “In the early goings of his blog, Indie Surfer Blog admits to at times planting one foot on either side of [the posting stuff he may not like] line. But he claims to do it for the readers; not to appease publicists. ‘Often I receive the emails direct from the musicians asking to be featured on the page, so I post about them even if I don’t like their music,’ he concedes. ‘I’m also trying to feature different music genres, so I often post some music I’m not really into, but I think some readers may like it.’ “

Oliver Wang is a pretty smart guy! OK, I knew this already, but he at least is a realist about the lack of, shall we say, purity out in music-blog world, and how most readers don’t really give a damn about little things like “ethics” as long as the content’s good. “In the end, it’s about the content, not necessarily the ethics of the content provider,” he says. Especially if that “content” consists of Sendspace links to lots of songs–well, at least until someone complains!

“Music Criticism 2.0” may be the worst phrase I’ve heard all year! Especially since it’s being used to describe people who only write about bands if they’re “into” them (or, in the case of The Music Slut, if said artist can rile up the readership enough to get the pageviews rolling). Is that really “criticism”? Ah, who cares, right? I gotta go, someone just uploaded a Radiohead MP3 and it’s totally on right now!

Music criticism 2.0? [OJR]