Death, the new album by bearded aussie troubador GRAND SALVO has been the perfect chilly spring soundtrack to my thoughts about the potentially terminal changes happening in the music industry. I've blogged recently about the death of the apparent record store, so I'm taking this article from Drowned In Sound about the troubles in the UK music press with a similar sized grain of salt. They stop short of putting the nails in the coffin, and no titles have gone under recently but they suggest that the music press is struggling to compete for dwindling advertising streams and readers, and that the rise of music blogs is having a direct impact upon their future prospects.
NME has lost 12.3 per cent of its readership on a year-on-year scale according to the latest ABC figures, published recently in trade magazine Music Week; Kerrang!, meanwhile, lost 9.9 per cent of its readership over the same period. Have these thousands of music fans come clicking this way for their critical fixes?
They then go on to suggest that what is actually happening is that music fans are bypassing music-criticism altogether, preferring instead to go straight to the source, - laying their hands on the music immediately through artists myspace pages and recommedations via online friends and MP3 blogs. New music is very easy to get hold of now, much more so than when I was a rabid music-consuming teen who would read about some shithot indie band in Select, Juice or Rolling Stone but was unable to instantly hear what they actually sounded like. Instead they became mythologised in my mind via the music press - the reviews, interviews, articles and pictures stoking my fires of enthusiasm before my ears had a chance to judge.
The Drowned In Sound article ends with a call to discuss the future of printed music press...
Is print dead, or merely twitching a bit funny right now? Do certain publications have a future due to their maverick streaks, or are these facets ultimately likely to prove their commercial downfalls?
The usual to-and-fro ensues. Worth a read. For my money I think smart publications are expanding online and across other mediums. NME, Q and Kerrang are classic examples of this, and their future lies in building on the current strength of their brands, and engaging with the more savvy, instant-gratification nature of their current and potential readers/audience.
In the discussion Starsign suggests:
With the internet, it's far easier to scroll and skim read and get the gist, which you can't do as quickly with a printed magazine. People (me included, to some extent) just can't be bothered anymore. Internet = immediacy. You can click on links and be taken straight to the music, whereas with a mag, takes more effort.
Be interested to hear your thoughts, especially on the state of music press outside the UK.
Business Week also write about Pitchfork's rise and their new foray into online-tv, estimating that the site pulls in around US$5 million a year.
Sticking with dead-stuff I've also been intrigued by the buzz around DIY-electropunkers THE DEATHSET, who played in London recently to launch the brand new and regular Vice party night in Camden. The duo hail from Sydney/Gold Coast but now call Baltimore home... on like the one day they aren't trapped in a tour van by looking at their current schedule. They got recent props on Who The Bloody Hell Are They? blog and the couple of songs i've heard online seem promising, if a little 'anger-for-anger sake'.
In non-death related news i held a 5 week old baby this week and got completely freaked out - its been years since I was that close to such fresh life. It was quite scary and amazing. The little guy was also named after my fave outsider artist and devil-fearin' pop-savant Daniel Johnston. Crazy!