What with musicians’ complaints of the life hardships in our digital era, let me go on some rant, too.
While wholly understanding the artists’ situation with regards to illegal downloads etcetera and seeing how gruelling touring is for my friends such as Mick Box, I can’t help but note that many musicians fail to notice that the paradigm shift concerns everyone now, including us, music scribes.
Not for nothing some of my high-profile colleagues went on the “Don’t Work For Free” crusade. Back in the day, most of the journalists either worked for a publication or were freelancers for a string of papers/magazines, which meant the pay was guaranteed; everything’s changed, and nowadays many of us run their own online platforms, like this one, with all the expenses attached to it, especially when there’s no advertising. The more amusing and abusing it is when musicians want us to give exposure to their music simply for the love of it.
I do love music but I also love my family, so there’s a priority in dedicating my time to writing, work, studies and just life. Sure, charging money for reviews looks conflicting from the objectivity point of view, but then, I’m not obliged to review everything that’s sent to me, and even less so if it’s a download option. There was a turning point when I had to review a box set by Alice Cooper with a 16-track online sampler. Kill me but I had to illegally download the whole package to write about it. No more! Lesser artists try and save on sending promos and, thus, don’t succeed in engaging a reviewer. It’s with great pleasure I remember a CD I received from Doris Brendel: housed in a little box, it was so human touch – absolutely other world from the influx of emails with links asking if I would be interested in reviewing someone’s album. I could be, yet find a way to make me interested. Sending mp3’s via email isn’t such a way and a common no-no for large files; making files available for download separately, rather than as an archived album, jars too as it eats at my time.
There was a band who asked me, once they’ve read my review of their album, for an interview. A young band with some records which makes it hard to come up with questions. When I wrote to them that I didn’t have their previous albums, they said the records were available on the Internet. But it’s not my job to seek it all out; I think it’s not musicians’ job as well – they have to only come out and play leaving everything else to techs and so on – but then one can hire a manager and a PR. That’s why I offer promotional services. A good interview is time-consuming and, by the way, those PRs who go out and fetch me artists of the Greg Lake (thanks, Billy James) calibre get reviews for lesser artists they also handle much quicker. As for the labels, they just don’t care: being the first to break the news of the latest Blackmore’s Night album and having Ken Hensley to comment on his song covered there, their label didn’t bother with sending a promo despite their publicist Anne Leighton’s attempts to secure it. No review, then.
And, of course, there’s no exposure for those who send me the “Purchase my album” links: it’s blatant advertising which should be paid for. There’s a lot of records I can’t afford to buy, so I won’t be buying yours.
That’s all for now. I’d love to hear what you think of it…