Thursday, 5 June 2014
Discussion - PR & Major Label Influence On Blogs - Our Perspective
Yesterday DIY website ran an interesting piece on music discovery (here). Key to this piece was two short interviews with Jacob Moore from Pigeons & Planes blog, a US based site that has a number of people writing for it and is often described as a ‘tastemaker blog’ and Belguim blogger Jarri Van Der Haegen, from Disco Naïveté.
One of the threads of the article was that many of the bigger blogs are becoming overly influenced by the same PR companies and major labels.
A quick look at Hype Machine on any particular day will show you that blogs are covering a huge and varied spectrum of acts – contrary to popular belief they’re not all writing about the same things.
Our perspective is that there are bigger blogs that seem to be more affiliated to new artists on major labels, often introducing acts after they’ve scooped a management deal or have been signed and the blogger gets to learn of it, via music industry contacts. The blog effectively becomes the music industry crèche for all its baby artists who are just learning to walk.
But likewise there are blogs both big and small that focus on independent acts, knowing that a post on their site, gaining a few hundred plays and providing a quotable line of text for the artist, can be hugely valued by the musician featured, even if they are never going to be the next music industry big thing.
Here at Breaking More Waves we fall somewhere between the two. We like having the freedom to write about what we like when we like and we think this is the same for the majority of blogs – often we have no idea if an artist is signed to a label or not. We’ve just heard a song, like it and write about it. This means we cover a spectrum from major label acts through to completely independent artists at bedroom demo stage.
It’s clear that a feature on a popular blog increases the chances of posts on other blogs. Part of that may be because as Jacob from Pigeons & Planes suggested to DIY “you've got hundreds of other little follow-the-leader blogs who just regurgitate whatever they see buzzing," but we think that’s a bit unfair to the majority of bloggers; if they hear something they like on another blog there’s a good chance they’ll want to feature it on their blog as well, not because they see it buzzing and want to be on the cool on the pulse bandwagon, but because the music excites them, moves them and grabs their soul and they want to share that feeling. However, whatever the reasons for blogs choosing to post particular tracks, it’s inevitable that labels are more likely to target the bigger blogs who have greater powers of exposure and because they’re targeted there’s a greater likelihood of them turning into music industry vessels.
Does it matter? We think it does.
If bigger blogs are featuring more major label acts it’s giving the smaller guys, the d-i-y bands without PR and the smaller indies less chance of being featured and arguably they could benefit from the exposure more than major label artists. But on the other hand, why should blogs just feature independent acts because of some sort of sense of ‘fairness’? Shouldn’t it be about the quality of the music?
Every blogger will have their own take on what they feature and ultimately that’s what we believe citizen journalism should be about. Bloggers are free to choose what they do and why they do it. For example this week we’ve featured major, indie and unsigned acts and even one that was dropped by a major label. It would be churlish to not admit that the majority of blogs are influenced by PR in some way or another (even if they don’t realise it), but as far as we’re concerned we will always continue to seek out talent from many varied and different sources (not just emails from PR companies) to curate a blog that is personal to us. We never want to become just a music industry mouthpiece, we didn’t start writing this thing to be a ‘tastemaker’ or ‘influencer’, we started writing it simply because we enjoy the process of its creation and documenting our music discovery – if we only listen to what major labels and their PR companies ask us to listen to we’re shutting off a big part of that discovery mechanism. That would be a shame.