Down at Maggie’s Content Farm: How greed is killing music journalism

I’m sure someone will point out the exceptions, but this article about how the background strings of corporate music blogging (how my fingers even hate to write that term, but sadly has existed for years) is killing music journalism. Yes a sensationalist title, but I’ve noticed the constant drip of ‘Top Ten Singles By Some 90’s Band’ or ‘Here’s A Non-Event Over Some Tweets’ or ‘Look! Here’s the Album Tracklist So You Can Go And Download It For Free’ trends in music blogging over the last few years. That article even pulls the curtain on the ‘accidental’ typo and factual mistake. You think these people don’t have a spell check or Wikipedia? You’ve been pedant trolled.

As someone who has been blogging, worked in advertising (no more!) and also doing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for years I know what they do – it’s all just looking for Google rank, Google Ad Sense money and random hits. Yes the province of Lester Bangs, Swells and Hunter S. Thompson is now looking for random whacks of Google hits. Yes CPV (Click Per Views) and such other advertising guff may be boring to read about, but it’s the Wizard of Oz behind curtain that funds nearly all of this – and as always, like podcasting got deluged by big money, like the zines that were trounced by the blandie (shh on the quiet corporate) blogs, like the indie bloggers who get their blogs pulled cos they aren’t big enough to care whether the tracks they posted came from the same record company that is DMCAing their arses – well it goes on and on. And like drones (I couldn’t even get up the energy to say ‘I told you so’ when the Senate and others woke up to that; I will say ‘What took you so long?’) and horseburgers people only seem to care when it’s too late, years after the fact. And then the faux-outrage really grates. A bit like Savile, I mean who didn’t know that actually? Look the other way, look the other way, don’t pay attention…

It’s all part of the media feed cycle, and also like doing a Gaga mashup a few years ago, or Gangnam Style last year, or Harlem Shake now it’s all about those CPM/CPVs. Get the clicks! Get the numbers! How many? I must be good since I have a lot of numbers?….pass them on and pass them by…until you become a number too. It’s a popular theme in this blog, first it was people stressing about mashup downloads, then podcast subscribers, then blog views, then YouTube views, now Facebook like farming and Twitter followers…problem is with all these virals and memes and ‘content farming’ down at Maggies Content Farm it’s reached critical mass. Too much noise, not enough signal as my Dad usualy says. And he’s right.

I was reading Gleick’s FASTR in the 90s and pretty much everything he said has come true, everything has sped up, and people don’t want to listen to a 20 minute radio show, let alone a 1 or 2 hour podcast – god forbid actually sit down and listen to a radio show or feed (bitter? moi? You bet). The paucity of attention, the constant recycling of memes (or even worse, constant moaning about said memes), and the feeling that you don’t have the full attention of anyone online, well nothing past a quick-and-easy click of a ‘like’ button leads to a 21st century version of alienation that Marx would both spot but also scrunch his eyes up at in confusion. And the strange thing is people spend so much time cycling around nothing on the Internet…even the supposed classic time-wasting of hanging around a forum seems more productive now than hanging around liking dancing videos or cat pictures on Facebook – or is that just nostalgia? Certainly the old cyber hippy ideals of the WELL and the early internet are gone for good, apart from the few that keep on, keep being creative despite the fact it doesn’t meet the metrics.

The interesting thing is how I got to read that article – it was a comment to Kanye’s interesting rant in London. Yes a piece of celeb fluff, but watch the video, it’s pure experimental off-the-head anti-corporate madness….seems like Kanye is associating more with the 99% nowadays. And why I think Kanye, although conflicted (Kardashians et al) is at times the most punk person on the planet because he does what he feels in that moment…and fuck the consequences. And if that means a 11 minute prog-style dirge/preacher sarcastic rant against corporations and money in music, with all the inherent contradictions that implies – and no-one expects Johnny Rotten to be consistent – then so be it:

The other irony is both the video and the comment were on the very same blogs that article was about. The circle is unbroken.

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