Excuse that terrible title for my blog post but it speaks the truth of what this whole thing is going to be about.
Well who knew an NME article could spark off such an outrage on the internet? Well actually it’s quite a normal occurance especially for me anyway. The other day NME published an article about the top 100 tracks of the 90’s and since then it’s sparked a debate about music journalism with a few journalists, with two blogs popping up on the subject as well.
I’m not a music journalist, well not an employed one, I write about music a lot, being a music journalist is my ultimate dream career. I have a massive passion for music and writing about it, I spend so much of my life, if not all of it, talking about, writing about, listening to, researching music. So here is my humble not professionally informed opinion. This is just what I think of the blogs but mainly what I think about music journalism, you may disagree but we are all entitled to an opinion and here’s mine.
The 1st blog to appear on the internet about the article is by music writer Neil Kulkarni, I’ve read the article and it does seem a little harsh at times but the points he is making are good ones. Journalism especially music journalism has become boring and stale and all about being safe and keeping readerships high. Music journalism needs to be fun, exciting and full of opinion of the actual journalist writing that article/review that is the point of music journalism to me anyway. If you are a reviewing an album I want your opinion on whether it is good or not, not just the tracklist of songs followed by some bland “sounds like…” and a background into the recording process/history of the band, that stuff to me should be in a feature. I’m not against some reference to how it was recorded etc but when reading a review of a show/album and 4 out of 5 paragraphs are about the struggles of recording and 3 sentences are about the actual album I, as a reader, am not really gaining any insight into the sound of the album. The best music journalists first and foremost are massive music fans, interested in music and everything around it, emerging themselves in bands, gigs and everything. Sometimes writing for a music magazine seems restricted and like there is a set formula, what ever happened to spontaneity in writing? Your opinion, a bit of uniqueness, putting your own stamp on the magazine and evolving your own individual writing style. Maybe I’m a bit naive about writing for a magazine because I’ve only ever written little bits that have been published but that’s what I think music journalism should be about.
The 2nd blog to make an appearance on the subject is by another writer called Mic Wright, his blog also makes good points, journalism is more about business and corporation now, promoting things to keep in the good books of clubs, bands, promoters etc so you obviously can’t say anything bad about them. He’s right that magazines want uncontroversial coverage, which is all well and good but I personally think that is boring, I want an opinion whether it’s harping on about the excellence of it or slating it, either way I don’t care I just want to know what you think whether everyone else agrees or not. There are some brilliant writers out there like he says and he mentions a fair few of them too, there is also still some brilliant music journalism out there if you look for it. But to me now most of it is bland especially where big acts are concerned but I think that’s obvious as to why this happens, they don’t want to upset them because their PR’s are very powerful people and one bad article could cause a hell of a lot of trouble for the magazine. At the end of the day, the magazine will be worse off than the band/artist especially in a time where music magazines are struggling anyway.
Both men make brilliant points throughout their articles I think. Music journalism is not dead and doing my dissertation on that exact thing made me realise myself it wasn’t and that gave me new hope of actually being able to try and get myself a career writing for a music magazine. There are some bad and bland examples of music journalism too and I’m not myself having a go at that NME article I’m discussing music journalism in general. I do believe that the essence of good music journalism and good journalism as a whole is having an opinion, having a unique writing style and being able to develop that. Obviously, there are cases when that can’t be done like if you are a court reporter but the beautiful thing about music journalism is that it allows that freedom or it should do. Who knows what the future holds for how music journalism is presented but I myself feel like we need to support these magazines because there is some amazing talent out there and I don’t want to see music magazines leave the shelves and I don’t think anyone else does either, so go out and buy a music magazine and support them, you never know you might just find your new favourite album/band by reading a review or article written by those very same journalists.