Sunday, 1 January 2017
Breaking More Waves 2017 And The Slow Death Of (Some) Music Blogs
Welcome to the 2017 edition of Breaking More Waves – essentially more of the same old bollocks as last year, namely me (I’m Robin, hi thanks for visiting) waffling about music is a fairly non-journalistic way. I basically write the way I speak – in fact (here’s a little secret for you), a number of my posts aren’t really written at all, they’re just dictated verbally and then I tidy them up on a laptop afterwards. There are lots of great blogs out there who write beautifully, but personally I prefer to do things this way. It’s simpler, quicker and hopefully conveys the messages I want to put out in an easy to digest form.
As I have done for the last few years, I start with a few words about what lies ahead, informed by what has happened in the past, before we get to the music.
2016 was a pretty tough year for a lot of music blogs. There’s been a spectacular fall in the numbers of them operating. Between 2014 and the end of 2016 Hype Machine saw a drop off of approximately 20% of the blogs it lists. The noisy buzz that getting your song featured on the Hype Machine chart is a lot quieter than it used to be. New music discovery has shifted away from blogs to other ‘tastemaker’ areas such as Spotify’s Discover Weekly and New Music Friday playlists. It’s not so easy now to start a blog that then leads to other opportunities within the music industry. Some of the old-stager bloggers are finding less joy in new music than they used to. Others are struggling to balance their blogs with the demands of paying the mortgage / rent or raising young families. The overloaded in box of new submissions becomes a pain not a pleasure. Some blogs that have been financed by external sources are finding that funding dropping away or are finding that music blogging isn’t a sustainable way to earn a living.
However, from my perspective the drop off of blogs is a good thing. Those that are left are the ones who really want to do it. Enthusiasm is key to an exciting and creative music blog that’s worth reading.
And as we go into 2017, I still have a lot of enthusiasm for this. Over the course of the 8 and a half years (bloody hell is it really that long?) I’ve been doing this there has been the occasional challenge. I’ve been through periods where the enthusiasm has drained, where the day job has left very little spare time, where family matters have had to take priority – for example last year my partner was diagnosed with cancer and is still being treated for that, so I reduced my output on Breaking More Waves a bit as I give extra time to support her.
But I still love writing Breaking More Waves and will still continue doing it. I saw a couple of bloggers tweet last year that writing a music blog was hard. That’s bollocks. It isn’t. It’s the other bits of life that are hard. Breaking More Waves is for me, a hell of a lot of fun. I hope that sometimes you get that feeling as well. Maybe you discovered a new artist that you enjoyed here? Or considered and thought about an argument or point of view that I wrote about? Or maybe you just giggled at my waffle?
Last year at Glastonbury I went to see Adele at the Pyramid stage. I don’t particularly like the Pyramid Stage. It’s too big. It feels impersonal and distant. It’s nothing like it’s portrayed on the TV. The last time I saw her was in a 90 capacity pub in Brighton. I wasn’t expecting that much at Glastonbury. Yet that show, from the moment the opening chords of Hello burst out, was my favourite gig of the year. I haven’t felt such emotion at a show for years. It just got me. Everywhere around me people were crying. I cried a bit too. When Adele got everyone to take their phones out and shine their lights – the most clichéd and tacky thing an artist can do in my opinion – it seemed the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
What that Glastonbury gig taught me was that, sometimes, especially at this time, when the world is so full of negativity, division and hatred, music possesses incredible and powerful properties that can join people together and make them feel something better. That thing is called love.
It’s that feeling – one of love and the power of music - that continue to spur me on in writing Breaking More Waves. Let’s see what 2017 brings. Thanks for reading.
Happy New Year.