Last night I read Angry Robot's post regarding posting new or leaked tracks, and his belief that music blogs have lost the grass roots energy and independence that made them unique and vital. In addition Philip Sherburne wrote something similar a few weeks ago regarding the temerity of publicists trying to influence his writing policy by sending him review copies of albums.
I have a great deal of respect for both of these writers, but these posts have got me thinking. The sort of behavior they both describe can be thought of as bad. However, in this post sell out world could it not be better viewed as an industry shifting to adjust to the realities of the modern marketplace. As a former publicist, record reviewer, and dj I understand that the placing of music in tastemakeres hands is a vital survival tactic in a glutted marketplace. Once placed into the hands of a reviewer/dj/ect.. what the recipient chooses to do with that new information is in the hands of the individual. I recieved a lot of tunes in my time that didn't hit me, wouldn't work with my style, and most importantly would adversely effect the trust of my reader/listenship if I started championing only because I got it for free.
It was not so long ago that all record companies were fearful of being put out of business by uncontrolled distribution of any of their content online, and aggressively prosecuting anyone who tried to create new rules. I think I see this distribution of mp3s and promo copies to bloggers as a profound sea change in the way that record companies view the internet. They now see it as a mechanism for profit, and when you are dealing with a business that is the attitude you have to take when thinking about how they function. Businesses almost never act for purely alteristic reasons. When that is taken as a given, it becomes much easier not only to understand their way of thinking but to take advantage of it. I would much rather have companies send fluxbog tracks, for example, than sue him.
It has taken me a long time to come around to this way of thinking. In the 80s and 90s I was very much a hardcore purist towards artists that "sold out" and the tactics of record companies that chose to market "my" music to the world. As I have come to know more and more musicians and artists, I realize that it is a tough business to make a buck in and who am I to begrudge them their livelyhood. I expect to be paid at my job.
P.S. I do not recieve promo copies and am not advocting that they be sent. I do not even have time to listen to the music I have in as detailed manner as I would like. I just like to see all sides of a subject.
and because the best music is often made by indies that often do not have the budget to send out promo copies here is a great track that was not much advertised at all.
Sir Richard Bishop - Mystic Minor 23