My daily commute on the New Jersey transit system has become my best friend and my arch enemy at the same time. If you have ever been subject to one of the glamorous and timely details it brings then you know what I’m talking about. Many times after work, I find myself vaulting over traffic, pedestrians, and potholes like the bricks in a Mario game just to get to the express train. Always the window seat – trying to divulge into what album or song I have to review that week on the way to photograph a show. I keep a composition book on me (how Harriet The Spy of me) that contains a multitude of notes, cross outs, yelling that thankfully have made it to some sites one way or another. Many up and coming journalists have their own weapons of choice. iPads, coffee houses with Apple headphones typing about whatever subject they desire. Hoping that they can connect to someone who engages on the same wavelength or hoping that they can see their writings in print on a prestigious magazine one day. Our version of “our names up in lights”.
See, the music industry is in a very weird and alien space. It’s still trying to correct itself and nurse and heal the wounds that progression has inflicted. The streaming services (for better or worse) make music readily available to everyone. It is a world where albums can still be obtained free. The main source of revenue for musicians are touring and merch and record companies are constantly trying to find a place in it all. Sometimes, what is lost is the role of the journalist. Most are not paid, with day jobs to pay their monthly bills and try to save whatever sanity they have to be a voice for this thing we love called music. Hell, some take lunch breaks to try to nab a breaking story or take on a completely different email inbox. The “love” happens different for everyone. It’s almost like a fever that you don’t want to cure.
Many are aware that some may be in the industry just to say they were a part of it. “I’m just happy to be here”. Unfortunately, I feel that negative connotation has permeated from the sins of a few to outlook of many. In order to combat that click bait laden farce form of journalism, you would think that we would become the marketplace of ideas other than the Regina Georges. Many journalists started out the same way – writing about artists within a Tumblr blog or taking photos of their local bands with a stock lens that just can’t pick up low light that well. Young journalists try to claw through classes, internships, and exams to try to make a deadline on posts. Red-eyed and red bull can only get you so far. We all sacrifice outings to our favorite bars, sometimes time with our significant others to jump on the hamster wheel to hope not to be too dizzy to get noticed. It’s the pull, fall and grind that should bring us together and highlight those that fight for. Many, like myself realize that it’s a privilege to be in this club called the music industry, however, should it be frowned upon that we want more from it like everyone does?
It’s absolutely a delight to cover up and coming band that may get on the mainstream radar in the future, but should it looked as a bad thing if a writer also wants to cover a big artist as well? Both can be equally beneficial to all sides. There’s a sense (as there should be) to pay dues (you can’t expect to cover Madonna on the first try). What is not brought in the discussion are the hurdles that may occur. The traveling to festivals on your own dime and being denied to cover the bigger artists. The covering of smaller artists only to be denied access to the bigger artists – this can be equally as heartbreaking in an industry that is contingent on relationships. These bright lights aren’t for everyone.
Listen, there are many factors to be considered with websites and artists. Many are going to gravitate to the the bigger sites. Definitely no sour grapes, it’s the name of the game. Maybe I’ll never get to write for a big publication – it seems chances of that are like making the NFL. It doesn’t mean I’m not just as important. Artists deserve for their art to be seen and heard. It’s why we are all here in the first place. Equally can be said who are interpreting the art. Although more abundant than ever, many of us have a deep affection about our platforms. The ones that truly care to take pride to convey it. With an industry with enough problems, it shouldn’t defer it’s attention from eating itself. Perhaps we should focus on the good in all areas to steer the ship on a better road. I know its’ impossible to avoid the bad, the ones that may be trying to feed off the wounds of what this is… but we can give it a try right? If we are in the “global warming” period of music and you feel like music isn’t what is was back then, imagine if you drive away what’s left of the hungry, driven writing collective as well?