Is there a point NME more? 4/3/2008
Blogs. Marvellous little things aren’t they? You could be sat here reading this now for a whole gallimaufry of reasons; you’re bored, you’ve stumbled upon it by accident and have come across all intrigued, you may have been recommended it by my mum or you may read every week for “that northern fella’s opinion on stuff whats going on in t’music industry”. Whatever your reasons these little Web –Logs appear to be taking over the audible world in various ways and its magazines such as our very own beloved NME that is beginning to feel the strain.
Back in the 70’s when the NME was as important as it deludedly believes it still is today the magazine sold around a quarter of a million copies an issue. Nowadays it shifts around 60,000 a week. This is a decline which is obviously inevitable in pretty much all written press due to fancy new technology and what-not as lots of the hip kids will just log onto NME.com instead, but you’ll struggle to find said little indie kids who just use NME.com as they’re singular music source. Once they’ve read the headline they’ll probably then bugger off to somewhere more interesting to find out more about it and read someone’s opinion that hasn’t been censored by the editor.
Regular readers may know about my ‘NME Pinboard Theory’ (a pinboard with a massive line down it with 2 clear sections; 1 marked ‘Bands We Like’ and the other marked ‘Bands We Don’t’ which all the journalists have to abide by or face fierce vituperation in a Nathan Barley-esq manner from their counterparts. “You don’t like them? But they’re well Mexico!?” etc) and this theory seems to becoming more and more commonly agreed upon. Eamonn Forde (editor of Music Industry analysis magazine Five8) said in this rather interesting article; “There’s an increasing homogenisation of the copy. With the possible exception of Mark Beaumont, you’re struggling to identify the writer.”
I know some people see it as bad practice for magazines to praise something one week and then have a go at it the next but personally I like magazines that contradict themselves, even if it’s in the same issue! I can imagine the journo’s in the office arguing over the importance of The Feeling’s debut single from their 2nd album; “What are you talking about; ‘They’ll never eclipse the phenomenal rise of ‘Scouting For Girls’? The Feeling have an obvious knack for writing pop gold”.
Blogs however have more an appeal as they’re willing to take more and more risks. If you write a personal blog and don’t have a company’s image to think about then why hold back at all? Imagine what I would say about Hard-Fi if I didn’t have to think about being sued for liable (or any of the other reasons you can legally take someone to court for by potentially damaging their image rights).
However there is always the inherent problem of credibility when it comes to blogs. For all that you know you could be currently reading the ramblings of an 8 year old Polish boy with an extraordinary grasp of the English language, whereas for a national magazine you’d hope they’d have some formal administrative process in place for employing new staff that would extend further than simply asking ‘Are you an 8 year old Polish boy with an extraordinary grasp of the English language?’.
One of my old university flatmates once stated that “all critics are ****s” and he’d only ever listen to them if they themselves had achieved something in the past within the field they’re criticising. A fair enough point although I would say I’d disagree with it. If someone can tell my why the believe A is better than B because they can compare it to C and D in order to explain it then good on them. It’s only their opinion at the end of the day isn’t it? I’m not just going to look at them and shout “WELL MAKE ME A BETTER RISOTTO YOURSELF THEN!” (I’ve been watching a lot of master chef recently I apologise).
There are a few music blogs I read quite regularly and I now very rarely buy any music press whatsoever. Compare this to 5 years ago when I bought the NME weekly and the odd Q magazine to treat myself then how long will it be until NME’s 60,000 readers become savvy to other, more up-to-date sources of music news and keep their money in their back pocket?
What I’m reading this week: a nice ‘bugger off’ to Guy hands by the A&R world