Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Opinions And Blogs

Criticism is a difficult thing. Subjective negative thoughts can damage a persons ego. It can be hard to take. Most people want to be liked don’t they ? But sometimes opinions will differ.

The internet is full of opinions. From forums to blogs, the internet has enabled everyone to publish their views for the whole world to see. Up there in black and white the opinions are there to be validated or criticised by everyone. Even though it's just one persons view.

Opinions. They’re just what you believe. They’re not right or wrong. They’re just thoughts based on your picture of the world. Sometimes they may be harshly said, sometimes they may be said in a more diplomatic way, but they are still just opinions. It’s easier to announce to the world your thoughts on a subject, sitting in the comfort and protection of your home, than it is to go out and say it to peoples faces.

But what is the value of another persons opinion? And in particular what is the value of the opinion of a music blog? Is there really a value in reading the criticism of someone that you don’t know? Someone who quite possibly lives on the other side of the world from you ? Here at Breaking More Waves only 50% of our readership lives in the UK, our home country. We have significant readership from the USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia and the rest of Europe. 99.9% of the people who read this blog have never met the author. So why would anyone be interested in what our opinion is ?

Here are ten reasons why Breaking More Waves believes that the music blog as a form of communication is important, and why our opinions matter.

Band Promotion / Marketing

Positive opinions are good for bands and artists, they boost their ego and for new acts present an opportunity to use some positive quotations on their press packs or Myspace. There have been several examples of bands who have come to wider public recognition because of a blog frenzy. Black Kids and Passion Pit spring immediately to mind. Blogs can be a great source of promotion at no financial cost for a group. Many blogs get thousands of hits a month which is a lot of potential new listeners for a band starting out.

The Honesty Of A Trusted Friend

If when reading a blog you find some common ground with the authors musical opinion you may begin to value that opinion and revisit the blog. You may possibly even sign up to receiving it in your in box. Then in the same way that you may consider listening and even following the suggestions and wisdom of a respected friend, you may begin to investigate some of the bands or artists the blog celebrates if you haven’t heard of them. A blog is likely to be more open and honest than a music industry publication that is heavily influenced by advertising revenue, industry insiders and audience demographic. With no paymaster at the door the blog has less to lose. When Breaking More Waves attends a gig it never accepts guest list places, although they are offered. This way when we write a review of a disappointing gig we cannot be influenced by the fact the ticket was free. We hope that people appreciate honesty, even if they don’t agree with our opinions. Honesty builds trust with readers and we belive trust is important.

Sole Authorship

One of the fundamental beauties of a blog relates to its often singular authorship. There is no opinion by committee, and because of this the views expressed may have a greater degree of consistency than say the published music press or larger websites. The personal touch of a blog also gives a unique perspective which large publications cannot achieve.

Entertainment Value

Negative opinions can be fun. A well written vitriol of hatred against a band can in terms of pure entertainment value be far more amusing than a sycophantic celebration of a bands talents. Except for the poor victims of the piece and their hardcore fans, who sometimes find it impossible to accept that someone in the world is allowed to think in a different way from themselves.

One of Breaking More Waves favourite books of the last few months is Bad Vibes - Britpop And My Part In Its Downfall by Luke Haines. It’s an arrogant spite filled pitch black memoir of Britpop that pulls no punches in slating everyone from Damon Albarn of Blur and Justine Frischmann of Elastica who are described as “A gruesome couple. A pair of greedy hobgoblins, knocking down small children in their path,” to Oasis who Haines summarises as “mindless northern bluff.” It paints a very different and comically dark picture of both the Brit Pop genre and the authors own band of almost achievers The Auteurs to most books published on the subject. What makes this book so fundamentally enjoyable is Haines negativity. Haines is neither right or wrong, it’s just his opinion; but we believe it's hellishly funny to read.

Every now and then Breaking More Waves will slag something off. Sometimes we do it purely to entertain. Apologies to bands or artists that become our victims, but we do believe in what we write at that moment in time. We of course also reserve the right to change our mind. Just because we put it in black and white then, doesn’t mean we won’t alter our opinion in the future. Anyone who has fallen in and then out of love with someone or something will understand.

Useful Information From Negative Views

A negative opinion, when fleshed out with the reasons for the negativity can be as useful to the reader as a positive opinion. If Breaking More Waves describes a band as “another low grade dirty, unimaginative band of ugly losers playing landfill indie with simple repetitive three chord abortions that are excuses for songs,” and upon reading this you are appalled with our summary, you are probably a fan of The Pigeon Detectives. Therefore the chances are you will like the band I’ve just described and may investigate them further. For arguments sake lets call this band The Fratellis. If you haven’t heard of them before and you think they are for you, it gives you something to investigate. If you click here you will find a very useful site about this band, trust us. Once you’ve finished investigating them we also suggest you sign yourself in to your local mental institution for a brain transplant.

Debate Is Healthy

Negative opinions can promote debate. Debate is good, it can healthily push thinking forward for those who are open enough to embrace and listen to others, although not necessarily agree. Sometimes it can bring new perceptions to fixed ideas and stimulate the mind. If your self esteem is fragile and you can’t accept that someone wants to disagree with you, Breaking More Waves politely suggests that don’t rise to the bait in the first place.

Social Interaction

A blog can help our human need for social interaction. It can give the reader something to talk to his friends about down the pub. “Did you read that idiot at Breaking More Waves slagging off skinny jeans wearing bands again ? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about !” Of course, such statements are woefully wrong. Here at Breaking More Waves we are right every time !

Journalistic Learning Ground

For budding music journalists the music blog is a way of practicing their art and getting it noticed. Whilst Breaking More Waves certainly doesn’t fall into this category, some do, and in a similar way to some of the great fanzines of the past being the stepping stone for journalists such as Steve Lamacq to have a career in the music industry, blogs of today will no doubt also foster some of tomorrows future journalistic talent.

Free MP3’s

For editorial reasons that we may well explain in another blog at some point, you won’t find any free MP3’s at Breaking More Waves. However there are many blogs out there where you can download some great free music. Blogs of this sort may not necessarily give opinions, but they are a useful tool for artists to communicate their work and music to listeners and gain a wider fan base.

Passion And Love

Blogs opinions matter because they are often written by enthusiasts who are unpaid for what they write. They do it because they love it, they are passionate about it and they want to communicate that. These are often the best blogs. There is no ulterior motive, just a desire to express those opinions. Its up to the reader to then decide if those opinions are valid or not.

These are some of the reasons why Breaking More Waves believes that blogs are important, and why opinionated blogs matter. Positive or negative in their outlook, they can entertain, be culturally relevant, help bands gain publicity, and act as a catalyst for debate. Just don’t disagree with anything we’ve written here or we’ll sulk and ask you for a fight.

Now, lets get back to talking about the music....but first....

Here’s film director Kevin Smith discussing opinions and the internet, he talks about some of the issues we have discussed here. It's worth taking ten minutes out to hear what he says.

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