I recently found a list of outlets I was hoping to write for once I graduated college. None exist in the same form as they did in 2010 and a great many of them died off long ago in the last great music blog war. Remember music blogs? Yeah…
Sure, we all had a great time in the early Aughts, laughing at the pricks at Pitchfork and keeping an eye on elbo.ws (RIP 2013). All of us had our sites, posted frequently and enjoyed some ad revenue. And my god the mp3 blogs! What fun.
But times change and money talks. Algorithms stop working for the little guys and pay to play becomes an even bigger challenge than before. Get enough copyright take down notices and you’ll quickly realize that it just might not be worth it anymore. So a lot of great writers moved on to bigger outlets and then those bigger outlets did this lovely thing called “pivot to video.” Fucking video. Few of us watch video at work, folks. But text? We’ll read that shit when we’re supposed to be doing flowcharts.
Writing about music in a way that’s understandable and compelling is an art (one that I am far from even beginning to master by the way). Losing text in favor of video is similar to losing print in favor of digital. It’s all vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow. A concentrated hit and then release. I’m not a staunch vinyl/magazine/book person but something is lost when everything is leased and has no tangible form.
While digging through the Flagpole archives, I was able to finally recover some of my earliest music writing. My work for Homedrone, however, is completely lost due to a website crash sometime around 2012. I work in a library building, my better half works in a literal vault full of artifacts. I know the importance of having records for things. Ask any archivist what the big challenges facing their field is right now and one of them will be “digitally native materials.” How do you store that which has no form and may not be accessible in the future? What happens when software stops working and the hardware doesn’t exist any more?
It’s partially this kind of thought that runs through my head when I see something like NME stopping its print edition. Another music mag bites the digital dust. They’re around, sure, but in ghost form, not able to be held and observed but instead at the mercy of the trade winds.
I wish I had solutions. I’ve toyed with the idea of making my own AMJ zine, bringing something digital into a physical form. But for now I’m just here, typing things to a small audience, making sure to back up everything to a harddrive in case anyone ever cares enough to reach into the water and pull back something whole.