Saturday, October 14, 2006

False 45th in Rolling Stone

Here's how you kill a blog....You take a two-week hiatus from posting right after being a panelist on blogging at a large music festival and while your blog gets mentioned in Rolling Stone. Free publicity flushed down the toilet due to zero new posts.

Oh, well. I guess I'm not quitting my day job.

I knew I was wasting whatever attention for this blog that was generated by being a panelist at NEMO. However, I had no idea False 45th was going to be mentioned in Rolling Stone. Hell, the issue had been in my house for a few days and I hadn't even noticed it.

I learned about it this afternoon when I received an email from Sean, who runs Daytrotter, congratulating me on being in Rolling Stone. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about but, an email later, I learned what he was referring to.

You can see the entire chart in this photo from Stereogum which I marked up with a crude green circle. Here's the close up below.

You can see the entire post Rolling Stone was referencing here.

I remember writing that post. It basically resulted from seeing Tapes n Tapes pop up on almost every blog I read for a few days. It was becoming ridiculous. Plus, "Cowbell" and "Insistor" were incredibly catchy. So, it felt like the blogosphere was in the process of lifting TnT up on their collective shoulders. So, I made note of it and eleven months later Rolling Stone made note of me making note of the hype.

By the way, if you actually look at the chart, it's idiotic. The y-axis isn't any quantitative number. It's just some made up "Heat Index" that the writer increased or decreased for a band in order to make the writer's preconceived point that blogs just chase fads. The fact is that Rolling Stone wants to portray music blogs as fickle fanzines because they don't like anyone cutting into their music hyping business. It's just a small step in them protecting their turf.

However, their chart shows why they suck. To make their point about the blogosphere souring on Clap Your Hands, they write, "Dec. 15th, 2005 A Pitchfork scribe calls their debut one of the worst albums of '05." The fact is that Pitchfork gave the album a 9.0 and ranked it 18th for the year. Pitchfork did say that the song "Clap Your Hands" sucked (which everyone including the band knew) but not the album. Who the hell is editing this crap over at Rolling Stone?

Yes. The popularity of bands ebb and flow but it isn't as dramatic as Rolling Stone makes it out to be. And just because one blogger liked a band and then another blogger didn't doesn't mean the band's popularity has peaked and plummeted. Like I said, it's a silly chart that was done in a passive aggressive manner to dismiss the value of music blogs. And my blog was just randomly chosen to be a part of that silliness.

One last amusing note about being in the magazine: when I was at the NEMO music festival in Boston a few weeks ago as a panelist on music blogging, someone asked if we only post about music. I said I post about other non-music things and feel those posts make my blog a fun & different site to read. Then I made a snarky condescending comment like, "Nobody wants to read a blog that's filled with more friggin' posts about Tapes n Tapes." The line got a few laughs in the crowd and I felt pretty smug about it.

I never expected to have that line come back and bite me in the ass in a national magazine. Too bad the disc the panel was recorded on was damaged. It would have been fun to put that audio clip up here right next to the picture of the chart.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha. You're in Rolling Stone. Bye bye credibility.

I'm surprised they had room for that graphic between Justin Timberlake articles.

Anyway, I'm off to Beck tonight in Chitown. Now that you're back, that new Hold Steady disc is really sweet. Think I'm gonna catch them in a couple of weeks.


Flatlander said...

I agree with you about the new Hold Steady album. I'll be posting about it pretty soon. I've been loving it.

Enjoy the Beck show.

casey said...

Real funny. Congrats.

A few salient observations from someone in both print and electronic media:

#1: Rolling Stone has the distinction of sucking while still being awesome. The article on Jerry Lee Lewis in this current issue is one of the best pieces of music journalism I've read in quite some time. The same issue features one of the most horribly written reviews I've ever laid eyes on, about the new Evanescence record.

#2: Every single band mentioned in that hype chart sucks. Horribly. End of fucking story.

#3: Web-based music scribes wield a disproportionate amount of power as did their print counterparts, once upon a time. The real difference is that talent follows money. Ergo, the quality of writing is far worse online.

#4: I like good writing and good music. I'm convinced of my ability to spot the difference between keen and shite, and this is what makes me qualified to criticize. That and a set of brass nuts.

#5: Did I mention I hate bad writing?

casey said...

On second thought, Arcade Fire don't suck.

Anonymous said...

wow i guess confidence isnt something you lack casey.

i hope your head doesnt explode there champ.

casey said...

Yeah, my head popped a while back.

Seriously, though — it's pretty funny that the success of young, white, male bands is predicated on the whims of a handful of webheads with not much in the way of finesse or insight.

Flatlander's company excluded, of course.

There's a fine line between exposure and unchecked hype. Print rags are as guilty as anyone of blurring it. But I'm pretty tired of nineteen year-old pseudo-hipsters pretending at music journalism. If you like that kind of thing, it's your own damn business. Me, I'll gladly go down with the rickety old critic ship.

Besides, there's more to think about than music, right, anon?

And no, I don't lack confidence. It's patience.

Flatlander said...

Wow. That was fun!

I love a good dose of interactivity now and then.

Casey, I agree with you about Rolling Stone. There are times I love my free subscription and times I hate it. However, the thing that usually sinks RS and Spin for me is the little one column half box in each issue that says "What's Popular In the Office". Basically, they are saying, "Hey, we think all these bands we write about suck also and to prove it, we are going to show you what we really lisen to when we aren't riding on the corporate music gravy train."

As for the bands in the chart, I like Am and CYHSY, am bored with TnT and have never cared for CWK. Arcade Fire wasn't in the chart but since you brought them up, I like them also and am stunned nobody has leaked any tracks from their upcoming album. That may be the story of the year. The lack of AF leaks.

I still up in the air about whether music bloggers have influence on people's buying decisions or not. Since indie record sales have been growing at double digit rates the last few years and concert ticket sales have gone up by 100% during the same time, something is having an impact. However, I seem to meet a lot of people that were college music fans, lost interest as they dedicated themselves to career & family and now are getting back into indie music via their XM or Sirus satelite radios.

The folks reading music blogs seem to be the hardcore fans that were reading fanzines and music magazines also. They never stopped buying music and going to shows. But I think some of the growth in sales is coming from satelite listeners.

But I have zero proof (just anecdotes) to back that up.

casey said...

Yeah, I guess I got a little wound up there. I end up in this discussion so often on various listserves that I'm primed to go off like a firecracker! Hope I made a couple of worthwhile points, though.

Your broadview is likely the most accurate; casual music fans are content to get scraps of info from friends, blurbs in Maxim, Esquire, Jane, Cosmo etc. The hardcore are omnivorous when it comes to music media.

But I come back to the fact that many online music sites are less than stellar. The Onion's A.V Club is solid. But it's gotten hard for me to read Pitchfork at all anymore, except for news. I don't need to hear what some kid did on his summer vacation when I'm finding out about a new band. Especially when the writer's knowledge of pop music history is limited at best.

But I digress. It's awesome that your blog got mentioned in RS! I see it as recognition for your labor of love.

k said...

nice work on getting in RS murph. maybe ill see you tonight we might be going to that show JDS told me about yesterday.

c said...

I noticed you in RS, too - very cool, regardless of how silly the chart was.

As for the comments here - I think that RS does, on average, have at least one outstanding article per issue. So that's about 24 interesting pieces of journalism per year from them. That is WAY more than I can say for most blogs...

Cheers ~