Thursday, March 31, 2011

On writing (about music).

On writing (about music).

I'm seeing more post on "how to be a music writer" or "this music writer sucks" or "what's the point of writing about music" and while I have no definitive answers to those prompts (well, I do, but saying "definitive" makes me sound like a pompous ass) I reckoned I could at least share my viewpoints on the matter.

Step one, love music. Step two, write about it. That's it, there is no step three. If your question is "how to be a music writer an make money at it" then my humble opinion is that you're not passionate about it. Once upon a time music criticism was valuable enough to make a living but nowadays -- seriously? -- it's far more difficult and far less (materially but far more spiritually, at least for me, as someone whose been doing this for over 20 years) rewarding.

Almost without fail, if someone has enough recognition to be widely known as a "prominent music writer" they will become full of themselves and become an asshole and their writing will suffer because they will confuse "a firm point of view" with "a wildly inflated sense of self." This happens across all generations. I've seen 40 year vets and whelps that began as MP3 bloggers both succumb to this and in this. I've read awful, just fucking awful, attempts at obtuse writing masquerading as intelligent proclamation. And, yes, I am inclined to think that in this day and age, when people are fighting to differentiate themselves, much music writing has begun to champion bands that truly suck in the rare hope that they will explode and you can plant your flag as having "discovered" them (which, by the way, no one will EVER remember or give you credit for but, yeah, maybe Rolling Stone will employ you to write 75 word news blurbs at some point because you've made a "name" fr yourself). So I agree with you, that music writer sucks. I, however, do not.

A-ha! Here is the big question! Especially when surrounded by recent posts proclaiming (supposedly from inside the house!) that music writers are self-congratulatory and spew out sentences to tickle each other and not you and, on top of all that, when you can just download a song or an album by a band (FOR FREE) what's the point of reading about music when you can form your own judgements listening? ALL GOOD POINTS.

I write about music because I can't not. Literally. I am lucky enough to have a wide readership through a number of outlets but, jeebis, even if I didn't I'd be writing about what I love because that's what I do. Do I get a kick out of someone recognizing me at a show and admiting they are there because I wrote about the band and convinced them to come and check 'em out? Yes. Do I love hearing someone paid cash money for an album I thought was great and wrote about accordingly? Yes. Do I love reading emails / comments that either 100% agree or 100% disagree with me but are great either way because someone wants to have a discussion about music with me? Yes. Do I love knowing that through years of practice I have finally reached a point where I can write about bands and be entertaining and be intelligent and honest to goodness give people an idea of what a sound sounds like through using nothing more than words? Yes. Do I love that, through reading me, other have started writing about music because "hey, if he can, why can't I?" Yes, yes, YES.

Do what you do because you love it and people will always appreciate it and that's the point.

No comments: