Tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET music bloggers and writers convene at Newtown Radio in Bushwick, Brooklyn to discuss blogger ethics and by extension, the future of music writing.
The discussion is taking place during an episode of Underwater Visitations and features Chris Cantalini of Gorilla Vs. Bear/Forest Family Records, Ryan Schreiber, founder of Pitchfork Media, Michael McGregor of Chocolate Bobka/The Curatorial Club, Mark Schoneveld of Yvynyl/Trug Club and Sam Hockley-Smith of the FADER/Group Tightener. Emilie Friedlander of Visitation Rites, myself and Ari Stern of Underwater Peoples will also join in.
We encourage you to listen and call in with questions and comments! 347-725-4163.
Below is a basic outline of the discussion put together by myself and Friedlander of Visitation Rites. Questions we want to address come after a summary of why we are talking about this.
Why we’re having this forum:
We all know that media, music and criticism will soon live primarily online. This is both exciting and daunting because the Internet is currently a free zone where anything goes and boundaries have yet to be drawn. Because we are all actively shaping the shape of music publishing, we are responsible for making it as ethical and equitable as it can possibly be.
We begin this conversation by using the subject of blogger run labels as a jumping-off point for understanding the role of the blogger and the ethics of music writing online.
It goes without saying that we aim for this to be a constructive conversation. Everyone involved is in it for love, not hate.
What is the difference between what a blogger does and what a traditional music journalist and/or critic does? How do you define what you do?
Who do you write or blog for? Readers, bands, your community/friends?
Up until very recently, blogs would write about bands and then labels would see that they had press and potentially pick them up. Its obvious that you love the music you write about and want to make it accessible to the public, but why take the next step and release it on a physical format as well?
Is it ethical to sell something that you created the demand for? Do you think you could possibly lose the trust of your audience as well as your authority as a tastemaker if people know that you stand to possibly profit (either monetarily or though social capital) off the content of your opinions? Conversely, does it strenghten your reputation?
If a print music writer starts a label, that person has an obligation to refrain from writing about the artist he/she is releasing. Example: Hockley-Smith of the FADER/Group Tightener has clearly stated that he will not cover the artists he releases. Why is it that when we switch from print to online, these rules suddenly no longer apply? Is it really just the medium?
How do you distinguish between your label and a more traditional one? Are some smaller labels you admire put at a disadvantage because as a blog, you are already getting into the game with a built in PR outlet?
Many comments from online forums at Tiny Mix Tapes, Drowned in Sound, YVYNYL, have said that if the blogger is clear about his/her affiliations with the music being written about, everything is copacetic. Is transparency enough?
Is there an ethical or unethical kind of blogger run label? What would constitute going too far?
What are some rules that maybe we can agree are necessary to ensure that ethics in online music writing are valued? Should there be rules at all?