Wednesday, 20 May 2015
A Few Thoughts On Blog Integrity, Hype Machine & Our Own Blog
If you follow the music blogging scene closely you may well have seen a statement from Hype Machine, the blog aggregator (an essential site to many artists hoping to get greater exposure to their music), concerning the integrity of their chart and why they have stopped tracking a number of blogs, some of which are relatively high profile. If you haven't you can see the full post here.
A number of the blogs that are no longer being tracked have put out statements of various sorts, including this one from Hilly Dilly.
We’ll leave you to read those statements and make your own judgement about the ethical position. However, we thought it was worth explaining a little how Breaking More Waves works and our thoughts on Hype Machine’s action, as we value the concept of integrity deeply.
1. Breaking More Waves is a one man d-i-y blog. There are no other writers. We do this first and foremost to ensure that there is a consistency of opinion and personality through the blog and also because that's how we started and the idea of being anything bigger was and never has been entertained - we have no aspirations with the blog other than to do what we do. A further offshoot from this is that it is very difficult to be 100% confident that if you use other writers that they do not have other vested interests in writing about certain acts. In fact the only time we have ever used a ‘second writer’ is our traditional Christmas posts where we invite the likes of Santa Claus (who is usually drunk) and Rudolph (who is quite rude) around for a spot of festive guest posting. They're only interest seems to be getting off their faces and insulting people though.
2. At the top of this blog there’s a strap line that states that Breaking More Waves is an independent new music blog. That independence doesn't relate to 'indie' music (we love a good commercial major label pop tune as much as we love unsigned independent music) but being independent financially. Breaking More Waves is just a bloke sitting at home or in his work lunch hour (like now), writing about stuff he likes. It's a hobby. This is incredibly important to us. We’re not interested in generating income from the blog – be it through advertising, funding from a backer or any other source. We’re of the opinion that where money is involved, behaviour is at the risk of changing.
3. We’re very aware that there are lots of people ( PR companies, labels, artists) trying to get their own or their clients music onto not only the big websites, but small blogs like this. Even getting a song on Breaking More Waves and no other blog can generate 200-300 plays in the first 24 hours, maybe more if the song does well on the likes of Hype Machine. Sometimes PR companies will offer incentives to sites – not usually financial ones (in the history of the blog we’ve received 2, maybe 3 offers of payment for a post, which we have of course refused), but for example the opportunity to ‘exclusively premiere’ the track. Breaking More Waves doesn’t do premieres. We’d rather pass those on to sites that this is important to. That doesn’t mean that a song might not appear first on Breaking More Waves against any other blog, but if it does it’s just because we got there first, not because of some exclusivity deal with a PR company or band. Anyone else could have posted it before us. However, we’re not saying that premieres are wrong, they are good for blogs that have aspirations – they’re just not for Breaking More Waves.
4. We’re also very aware that music blogging can become very PR led. Every day we receive in the region of 200 emails in our in box submitting songs to us for possible posting. We probably have around half an hour a day to open and read some of them - the majority never get opened. Full disclosure here; there are certain companies that we trust a little more than others in terms of the artists they represent, often (but not always) having a commonality with our taste. Therefore we're more likely to listen to their submissions than others, but the reality is that we don’t just post in box discoveries on the blog. We enjoy sourcing music in many other ways – from radio, other blogs, watching support bands at gigs and quite often we sift through festivals and gigs line ups looking up names of artists on the bottom of the bill and giving them a listen. It takes longer, but it gives us a lot of pleasure when we unearth something we really like. Once more, we're not criticising blogs that do just source all their music through their in box, everyone is different, and certainly we source a lot of ours in that way, but it's not the only way.
This post is not intended to criticise blogs that do things differently, particularly with regard to premieres or just discovering / posting music via the email in box route. However, when it comes to posting music because the artist is a client of the writer’s, which is the integrity issue the owners of Hype Machine have taken issue with, we fully support and applaud the action Hype Machine has taken. Of course it won't stop all aspects of Hype Machine chart manipulation (one comment on Hype Machine's post suggests that their action is like putting a finger in a leaky dyke) but it's a valiant effort by Hype Machine to try and do something. Our hope is that in starting this they have the resource to investigate other blogs they list that may be acting without integrity, posting tracks by artists which they have may also have a financial interest in.