Thursday, November 4, 2010

the climate of electronic music

Recently I've been doing some work on the politics of climate change. It is a very tricky situation, to put it mildly... Part of the problem is that it is not that people are actively trying to fuck up the environment. Indeed, much of it comes from people living their lives in certain ways, but when these individual actions are put collectively it is leading to global warming and other environmental problems. One version of this predicament was expressed by Gareth Hardin in the late 1960s using the metaphor of 'the tragedy of the commons'. It is not worth explaining the whole thing here, but the basic point is that what it tried to show was that: 'people face a dangerous situation created not by malicious outside forces but by the apparently appropriate and innocent behaviors of many individuals acting alone.'

What does that have to do with electronic music you might ask? For starters, a while ago PC wrote an excellent piece for RA about the relationship between DJing and environmental problems. Well what I am going to talk about is not actually the environment, but what I want to suggest is that the dynamics that shape the problem of climate change can also be partially found in the way electronic music is talked about and circulated online (and please note that i stress partially, this analogy is far from perfect). Let me give you some examples of individual action, which by themselves are not necessarily problematic, but when all are combined, it is a different story:
  • Promo agency C requires feedback to be able to download a promo (which you need to do to listen to it properly or play it out if you are DJ). This feedback is then used to either promote it directly, regardless of how banal the feedback is: 'This is awesome. Will play for sure! DJ XX', 'Downloaded. DJ G' etc.
  • Reviewer D writes reviews for big electronic music site A, big electronic music site B, electronic music review site C, and who knows where else. 
  • Up and coming DJ ZZ write reviews for their friends (without acknowledging the fact) and for labels they'd love to work with, or at least receiving promos from. 
  • When buying music digitally, people tend to buy more individual tracks and less full releases. To compensate, major digital retailer XX adds a $1 'handling charge' for .wav files. As a result, the digital version for the whole release actually costs the same amount as the vinyl.
  • Reviewer EE does not like a certain release so much, but gives it a solid/positive review anyway, because it is from an artist or label that has a good reputation.
  • New site/blog/label/promo agency wants to promote what they are doing, get more interest in their projects, so they start a podcast.
  • MM reviews for a number of major music sites, but also writes for another website that is run by and closely linked to the biggest website for selling digital copies of electronic music.
  • Rather than try to release on existing labels, new artist RR decides to start their own label.
  • Promo agency P pushes for feedback on a release, when they receive negative feedback, they then challenge that feedback.  
  • Website RR is one of the major retailers of electronic music online. It strongly supports and positively reviews a release from label D. It does not mention that it owns label D.
  • Mix 1 is from a much loved DJ but is tagged as anonymous, so it is only downloaded about 1/5 the amount of times compared to a normal mix by the same DJ.
  • F promotes and supports a big techno festival on their site, gets a complimentary ticket for their efforts, then writes a report about the festival after. 
  • Techno lover QQ wants to become a DJ, so they download an illegal copy of Ableton and start making mixes.
  • Someone reviews a release with artists P and Q on label A, but then promotes releases from these same artists on label B.
  • WW reviews a release from artist O, but does not mention that they have booked O in the past, and have booked O for a future gig.
  • Dance music site T has a competition, the prize is to go to a series of festivals and review the events for the website.
  • Reviewer OO writes a review for the new release from artist PP, knowing that it is highly likely they will bump into them next week at Panorama Bar or at Hardwax.
  • Mix 2 is on a big name podcast series and is from a very good DJ that people like and someone linked with strong labels. The mix itself is not very good, but everyone says 'awesome!'
  • TT wants to be a producer, so they download some cracked software and start making tracks.
  • Positive feedback is left when downloading a new promo, promo agency S then asks/pushes for the release to be reviewed based on that feedback. If the review is positive, it is used to promote the release.
  • An EP is reviewed positively by a site, without it being mentioned that one of the staff members of the same site is involved in running the label.
I could list more, but perhaps you get the idea. Even though these are all based on specific examples, I purposely haven't listed any names, because they aren't relevant: the point of this post is to focus on the bigger picture. In many of these situations there is a problem of disclosure, but beyond that, there is nothing necessarily wrong with these specific actions. In most cases it is people who do deeply care about electronic music, individuals who are trying to make a living out of contributing to the scene and doing something they believe in. That is totally fine. We need these people, and this post is not about attacking anyone or any particular actions. But...

But if instead of focusing on specific examples, you take all these actions and put them together, a much more problematic picture emerges. And this is where i think there is a partial similarity with the climate change situation - people legitimately pursuing their own interests and lives, but when these actions are combined, it has an overall effect that is damaging, even if that is not the intent of any one actor. In this case it is the electronic music scene as a whole, and in particular, the online manifestation of this (which is becoming more and more influential). This is a situation that encourages and rewards safe bets, it generates lots of stuff that is very good but not great, it puts too much emphasis on having the right name or label attached, it fosters judgments and reviews based not on the quality of the music or performance but on who/where it is coming from, and it encourages an ever expanding flood of releases, labels, mixes, recordings and podcast series. Quite simply, I think it pushes us towards a situation that encourages us not to critically engage with music, which encourages a situation where average music prevails.

To be clear, I am not attacking anyone. Hell, I know I am contributing to this situation. Does anyone honestly think there will be a post here saying Labyrinth is shit or that Dozzy is a terrible DJ? I doubt I will ever need to do this, but if I am honest, there have been situations where I have wanted to criticise certain releases or labels, but I have not said anything because of problems it would cause me. And this might make my life easier, but it is certainly not an ideal situation... So where to? I am not sure... but I think an important first step is talking about it, and as part of that, people being much more honest and upfront about their commitments, and how this may (or may not) bias what they are doing. Beyond that, I got no idea. But like climate change, the problem is not going to get any better just by ignoring it...


  1. You make some very interesting points, some of which I have been guilty of in the past.

  2. i mean. my immediate reaction to this was "I smell Sour Grapes." And for a lot of these issues, they just aren't going to change.

    But i think education is the key here. Maybe a very anonymous whistle blower blog? Somewhere people can go to see just how much conflict of interest is really going on in the industry?

    Also i understand, that sort of thing will just create another mess of a rumor mill. Theres only so many people that will know that reviewer x booked artist y and is friends with label z.

    But still, it could be helpful in at least detering these practices. And of course it could be a blog that does more than just whistle blow, it could maintain statistics on dominate labels being reviewed and/or booked. Just the sorts of things someone could read and say...oh shit I really am just being force fed mediocre music.

    Just some ideas.

  3. The problems you cite all too common these days. There are too many TV shows to watch, too many blogs to read, and too much information to process. Handling information overload (hilariously, a term from 1964) is something we all have to contend with. How to wade through the deluge of tracks, mixes, and reviews and remain sane?

    I find expending a little willpower and *deciding* to listen closely to something is a good start.

    I would add, by way of a plug, for budding DJ QQ who wants to start mixing but can't afford Serato, try the open source mixing program Mixxx. It doesn't have the high end feature-sets of traktor or serato, but it does the job quite well. And I'm rewriting the vinyl control code, so in a few months you can hook up to any pair of decks and play a proper set. Couple that free software with some free netlabel music, and you can get a head start without a lot of initial investment.

  4. @ owen: funny you mention that, budding DJ QQ, aka me, used mixxx for the autumn mixtape i put together last week. it is an excellent free resource!

  5. @ Jon: I like the way your comment wrestles with all the ambivalences (or poly-valences) of this clusterfuck of issues... immediate response is: yes, but what about a systemic setup that tends to produce these effects, regardless of people's general behaviour, and in spite of the good intentions of people who have become reflexively aware of it as a problem and are actively trying to do something about it?

    I mean: just try being a producer who wants to earn a living and live with dignity from their music and NOT fly in 2010.

    ~ or: try refusing the very notion of having your work recorded and distributed.

    And: just try being an academic, and not pumping out pdfs for journals in order to pump up your citation count...

    And: just try to be a promo/booking agency or a venue or a label owner who refuses the rules of engagement.

    ...and just try to be a music consumer who pays for all their music... a system that relies on the goodwill of individuals not to destroy the conditions enabling the viable reproduction of the music an ideal system? And/or is it the best we can do? Or just beyond our control, as you suggest? Or is that just a lack of courage on our part?

    ...'cos I would say: these are systemic conditions here... how did it get to be this way? And what possibilities exist?

    There are possibilities, I think. But: I think we need to think about them...

  6. I am so relieved that someone finally voiced this opinion. For all the badmouthing that the mainstream scene receives for being "rigged", the world of electronic music seems to be just as infected. Not only do we need more transparency, we need more accessibility. It's not wrong to promote what you love. But it is wrong to mask it or to fake it to an extent where it becomes misleading. I'm not blue eyed enough to believe that we can the scene would be the same without those favors and connections. Anything from Ostgut Ton would testify against that. But is it so hard to bring just a little more honesty and transparency into this space? As you say, no one act can turn this around, but really, we should be able to improve this situation.

  7. @ Rasmus:

    ...I'm really fascinated by this word transparency...

    ...I mean, it's what's so interesting about wikileaks, right?

    But how is it that 'transparency' is also a buzzword of the WTO/IMF/OECD etc... and what about the way it's built in to contemporary architecture...

    glass is almost transparent, but depending on the source of the light, it could be dark from one side...

    ...I think of this old quote:

    “The International School was dedicated to a new idea of visibility in the construction of large buildings. Walls almost entirely of glass, framed with thin steel supports, allow the inside and outside of a building to be dissolved to the least point of differentiation; this technology permits the achievement of what S. Giedion calls the ideal of the permeable wall, the ultimate in visibility. But these walls are also hermetic barriers. Lever House was the forerunner of a design concept in which the wall, though permeable, also isolates the activities within the building from the life of the street. In this design concept, the aesthetics of visibility and social isolation merge” (Sennett 1974, 12-13).

    ...I know this is not what you mean, but could it be that transparency is a part of the culture - not to mention the systems architecture - of what might be problematic here? What do you think?

  8. @PC

    I think our demand for transparency is closely related to the the reality of late modernity. We like to see transparency because most of the systems we deal with are non-transparent. How well would you, for instance, say you know what goes on inside your computer? Because we have to rely on certain systems we do not understand, we want to understand less complicated systems even if that means simplifying them. In that sense, the glass metaphor is spot on.

    You could blame the system and our society for promoting this kind of faux transparency. However, I think the problem lies in the mentality that drive many of these seemingly harmless acts. The real problem is that, as you mention, too many people rely on safe bets. This creates what I like to think of as "loopinion" where the same few people distribute, review, promote and profit from the music. Whatever gets through the right channels on the right labels, the right blogs, or the right djs ends up in a virtual echo chamber: The right dj plays the right track, which ends up on the right blogs and eventually gets released on the right label. When the same artist releases a new track, it ends up on the same blogs and with the same djs because it's safe, and because nobody wants to risk their place on the ever elusive promo- and guestlists. So, nobody speaks up, and everybody feels that they have to play along because they have some sort of relation to someone else in the food-cycle (yes, cycle).

    This is not transparent by any definition, and it's not - to continue the green metaphor - sustainable. I don't know if it promotes a culture of "pretty good", but it ends up freezing the situation and creating a system that is even more hierarchical that what we came from. The worst thing is that nobody wants to break out of this because of the risk involved. Just look at the whole RA/W+L discussion... this probably answers none of your questions, but I couldn't help going off on a tangent here..

  9. I think people who are actively following blogs / reviews / podcasts accept the terms of this "game".. somehow it's a scene within the scene, and one of several ways to consume music, + an optional part of the entertainment.
    I guess there's still a majority of music consumers who are just not so close to all this and don't exactly know about all the micro-hypes based on these mechanisms..?

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. it's sad, i like the music, i like the person giving the feedback. the gesture of "feedbacking" is so inane and pointless and overall reduces my experience with the labels and artists.

    i believe that digital shops will experience an economic meltdown just like the budding internet industry, the automobile industry, the US real estate industry, etc etc did. i theorize that any economy reliant on digital services is a timebomb waiting to go off. by design the internets music economy will collapse sustainable.


    Cari Lekebusch - im all over the Advent & Industrialyzer remix and Jerome's! will get dropped asap BOOOMCHECK!!! ezpz =D
    DJ Vibe - Support. Thanks.
    Joseph Capriati - bomb! very strong package,will support it for sure!
    Jerome Ism-Ae - great ep
    Dave Seaman - brilliant package! will play sydenham, erphun & cooper!
    Miniminds - loving the advent mix!
    Maher Daniel - nice remix package Jeromes's Mix is my pick out of the bunch. loving j's wrok. erphun delivers a great remix as well
    Nick Warren - great remixes, matt and Erphun for me
    Jon Rundell - Advent & Industrialyzer and Sydenham mixes are slamming
    John Selway - downloading for John Selway. thanks.
    James Ruskin - Downloaded for James. Feeling both Sydenham + Erphun mixes
    Tom Novy - Erphun & Jerome are my winners!
    Orde Meikle (Slam) - nice EP -excellent remixes - playing - thanx
    Laurent Garnier - ohhh yesss ERPHUN remix --- luuuuvin it - 4 good mixes in there
    Nihil Young - great package, thanks
    Mason (Great Stuff) - Wow Max Cooper on fire !
    Tomy DeClerque - all remixes are great !!! will play
    D.Diggler - jeromes mix is ok. give a try-
    Shin Nishimura - all the remix are bomb.
    Alex D elia - Great package!! The Advent remix is my fav!
    Tom Hades - Top release !! Full support !! Difficult to choose a favorite since all are ! Smile
    Steve Parker - What a HUGE pack from Ground Factory, original EP was a killer and all mixes are also, My favorite is the Jerome Sydenham Remix im a BIG fan of his Style, QUALITY !
    Alex Di Stefano - Very Nice Remixes! SUPPORT
    Audio Injection - sydenhams remix is good, will play that for sure thanks!
    Tone Depth - Some cavernous dark techno here, a bit to hard for the style I play but could definetly drop one or 2 of these at the end of a late night dark set:) Thx for sending
    Phunk Investigation - the advent & industrializer, monster remix!!
    Joey Beltram - Advent and Industrialyzer mix is great. will definitely support.
    Hernan Cattaneo - jerome mix is great erphun very good too
    Electric Rescue - the sydenham is for me Smile but the advent + indus is cool too thanks electric rescue
    Jon Reynolds - WOW! Very strong release! Amazing remixes from all artists here. Very hard to pick a favorite. All mixes are top class warehouse material! Thanks for sending.
    Marc De Pulse - the advent & industrialyzer remix is a BOOOMB!!!
    Meat Katie - Erphun remix is really cool , will play no problemo ;-)
    Paul Oakenfold - The Advent remix is just insanity of big room techno. Thats a Stormer! -
    Sasha Carassi - Excellent package!Loving the full release but specially Jerome Sydenham and The Advent & Industrialyzer Remix! Massive!
    Kaiserdisco - great remixes! full support! thanks!
    Misstress Barbara - Love the Matt Cooper Mix!! Full support "


  13. this as been an interesting discussion. The climate change analogy is not so far from perfect, but I prefer not to make the mistake of overanalyze it. I mean, it sure is healthy to discuss this and it's good to have some facts stated as an alert to try and not make part of it as long as we manage not to.
    As a consumer point of view, I think it's our mission and it's not that difficult to sense these little hidden gimmicks. From the deepest ingenuity of my youth, in the end it all comes to listening to a record, and decide if is good or not (if it fits our taste) and not needing no reviewer, no blog and no label to decide that for us. Scepticism I think it's a must in this consuming game. What I'm saying is I believe you have the chance to opt in our out of this machine.
    You can try and dissecate the "food-cycle" but I don't think we can do nothing about it. As long as there's money involved it will stay as it is. Not only in electronic music or the mainstream music but in everything else. It's trying to "stay pure" that make things interesting.

    Not so sure of my english skills on this matter though, hope I've made my point.

  14. I couldn't care less. That basically is my comment before.

  15. there's definitely a mold that already exists for music to become accessible.

  16. the whole promo thing is a problem, if a review is strictly critical why does a reviewer need to have a copy of a release before its available to the public unless its to prep a review thats designed to push it. fuck being 'employed' in the music industry. (and im all for fact mag cutting down on its carbon emissions)

  17. What's interesting is that when movie studios are putting out a particularly bad movie, they will often refuse to give critics an early screening. The assumption is that they will savage it and then no one will go see the movie. (These are always movies that won't necessarily be a success simply because of brand recognition or something similar).
    The studios seem to think that reviewers are independent and critical enough (and are perceived as such by the public at large) that their negative opinion will be influential.

    What I'm wondering is why the edm community isn't similar. But, isn't it? I don't know about you guys, but I don't believe what promoters say about the artists they're booking or what shitty DJs say about other shitty DJs' albums.
    I generally get to know the viewpoints of certain writers and rely more on them. I think the problem is with knowing who's voicing their opinion and why.
    But I'm not sure if there's any easy way to increase disclosure.

    In the mean time, I'll trust the voices that I feel have earned my trust through past behavior.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. ^ sorry double posted

    Very interesting read. There is definitely a need for more transparency. My example...

    I asked for the free blackesteverblack cd, and through some email communications I received an out of office autoreply from Kiran Sande, Deputy Editor at FACT. I was quite surprised! I had got into the label through a FACT post on Raime but it never mentioned that the label is run by its deputy editor (I found out through a subsequent google search which brought up an RA interview with him).

    There is nothing wrong with FACT writing about blackest ever of course - such an interesting new label should be promoted, & much respect to Kiran for starting it up. But I think an article promoting music from a label closely connected to the website it is being published on, has some sort of moral obligation to mention this somewhere, for the sake of transparency. It is important for such transparency so that it can maintain a level of trust with its readers. (But i guess the onwership of FACT by the Vinyl Factory already complicates its position as a website reviewing vinyl).

    I lost a lot of respect for RA after that whole score changing review, and have never felt the same since, irrespective of whether management has changed. It's absolutely critical for review based websites not to lose trust, otherwise their content becomes useless.

    Also, one thing I respect so much about this site and the guys that run it, is the fact that they say exactly what they think and don't hold back because someone's feelings might get hurt. In fact I have the impression that the site kind of prides itself on this. So it is a shame to hear that there are instances when you 'hold back'. If a label / dj aren't man enough to take a bit of criticism and still maintain a healthy relationship with you guys, especially in the context of how much good this blog has done for techno, then it is not a relationship worth keeping. I realise this is easier said than done...

  20. End of the day, reviews, blogsites, whatever, at least you can listen with your own ears most of time before you commit to a purchase, so who cares what anyone else thinks...make your own mind up!!!

  21. I second Italo Sleaze's sentiment.

    Trust your ears, not the hype!!!!

  22. @italosleaze i agree to an extent. i pretty much buy music based on what i hear not read. but what i hear is nearly always filtered. be it through a blog, a guy in a record shop, a dj's chart. so the argument for transparency still remains valid even in this digital age.

  23. thanks for the interesting & worthwhile discussion people. i really appreciate the way everyone is engaging.

    @jonnyp: we try our best to be honest & not hold back, but it is very difficult to always do. there are a number of factors. if you write too many critical or negative posts, you get accused of being a 'hater' and then people start switching off. this is a problem we've faced in the past. so we have to be conscious of getting the balance right. and also because of some critical posts we've done, we got a lot of criticism, abuse and even threats. considering this is ultimately a 'hobby' for us (though 2nd job would probably be a more appropriate description), having to deal with the blowback can be very tiring and you have to be ready to deal with it.

    and, of course, there are conflicts of interest with this blog. but we try our best to guard against them in a couple of ways. we try to be transparent about our commitments and to avoid situations where there are clear conflicts. also no money goes in or out of this blog, which makes it a bit different. but we are far from perfect...

    anyway, the main thing i want to focus on in this post is not specific actions or things mnml ssgs and others may be guilty of, but what the consequences of these collective actions are, what happens when they are all combined.

    and saying you should just judge for yourself makes sense to a degree, but how everything is presented is filtered and shaped by these different mechanisms - promo agencies, review sites, tastemakers etc. - there are important structural forces at play...

  24. "also no money goes in or out of this blog" what about all the free music you get out of it, surely you can attach a dollar value to that ?

    another important item to consider which relates to this and to the recurring theme on here about the devaluing of music is the way artist themselves pass around music to each other for free. they all pat each other on the back incessantly and why wouldnt they if they were part of an elite club which procures for them all the best new music.

  25. Dance music politics are so incredibly petty.

  26. @ Nihal: why is it always the paltriest comments that make the pettiest observations? If you don't care about the matters of concern, why do you comment?

    @ Henrique: I think it's interesting that you use the metaphor of a 'food cycle', then place yourself as a consumer in it, then, when you evaluate the situation, you find no problem with it... ...don't you think there is a political choice being made there?

    @ Todd H: 'free music'? If it were about that, we'd just use rapidshare like everyone else does...well, not you, of course ;)

    ...if anything, it's more of a gift economy than anything related to accumulation, unless the capital is social in symbolic, which it might be...

    ...but come now... 'free music' in 2010 as an incentive to do this? I think you have no idea how 'free' music is, and how time consuming running a blog is... 2008, my old (street press) editor had a teetering pile of promo CDs at his desk. People could no longer be bothered coming in to the office to pick up promo CDs. He said: 'back in the old days, I would cycle 15km across town to go in to the office in order to scoop all the best promo CDs and vinyl, months before it came out in the shops. These days, if I want it - IF I want it - it's already online.' something has changed there...

    ...but: haven't you noticed how the lion's share of podcasts on most sites appear right at the time an artist releases a major podcast? Eerie, isn't it...

    The interview cycle, the tour cycle, and now the podcast cycle... their temporalities are now all primarily shaped by promo...

    ...most of the coverage is churnalism, most of it is a barely disquised re-hashing of the press releases...

    ...if THAT is not problematic, than either you don't care about this culture we've built together, or you are a shareholder and/or an interested party...

  27. @ Rasmus:

    loopinion... this is really interesting, BTW...

    some how this keys in with tipsters, hype bubbles ?hubbles? and public sphericules...

    ...a hype bubble would be interesting, too, because it would appear transparent (or, at least transluscent) right up to the point at which it bursts.. after which, you have an eyefull of detergent and 'nothing much' else...

    One example of a tippped artist. Old school information vs new school promo:

    R&S 1007
    James Blake: Klavierwerke (Euro 12") @ EUR 8,50
    (mellow IDM-ish & post-UK garage/dubstep electronica EP)

    vs (ready... make sure you've got your junk in an easy to jiggle spot, here it comes...)

    James Blake
    Klavierwerke EP
    (R and S Records) (MP3 / WAV / FLAC / 12" VINYL)

    Rarely does the announcement of a four-track EP from a twenty-two year old artist with just a handful of releases to his name, gather such monumental anticipation. But then again James Blake is destined for BIG things. His second R&S extra player promises to believe the hype; Blakes' own pitch-bent, processed vocal is coursing through the synths, pianos samples and micro-rhythms to exhilarating effect. Massive break through times expected, with good reason. Beautiful and emotive music.

  28. also meant to say in equal measure that you get it first as well, and not everything is available for free. let me see if i can find download links for chris' latest chart...

  29. found 3/10, one being on two seperate private forums.

  30. @ todd h: do you have *any* idea how much time and energy i put into this blog? if you did, you'd realise that the amount of free music does not even come close to the amount of time i expend on this blog (especially if you were to put my time is dollar value). i'll tell you what doesn't take much time? writing bullshit throw away replies like you just did.

    i don't download any music illegally, and most of the promos i do get - and get shitloads - i do not even have the time (or motivation) to listen to. but i am buying vinyl every week. of the 10 releases in my november top 10, the breakdown is: 4 promo, 4 purchased by me, 2 purchased by my wife. and, as i said, 8 of the 10 are now freely available to purchase.

    @ nihal: what is the point of that comment? and what exactly is petty?

  31. just pointing out that you do get something out of this when you said no money comes out of it. 40% of something that somebody is completely obsessed with is important id say, and yes im sure you've earned that.

  32. @ Todd: I/we certainly do get a lot out of ssgs, no doubt. I do give blood occasionally (which you don't get paid for in Australia), but I hardly feel like a faint donor in this case.

    Mostly the rewards are the ways my understanding is transformed by interacting with other people through music (like in these comment threads), as well as, of course, the discovery of new and fascinating kinds of music.

    But: there is a 'monetize' button on the blogger dashboard, and Chris and I have NEVER pressed it, for very good (and very well thought and discussed) reason. This blog is, in important ways, an evolving experiment about the kind of spaces that can be made using materials that are lying around... we've become more conscious of that... ...I guess, initially we were just pissed off with the way people were talking/thinking/writing about the music we loved...

    ...but: why isn't there a 'socialise' or 'emancipate' button?

    (pete hits 'publish your comment')

  33. Great post, and it's only the tip of the iceberg I think. You can say 'make up your own mind about music' but that notion presupposes you'll listen to everything that exists out there, without blogs/sites/mags/dj's having an impact on what you stumble across.

    I don't have any answers, but personally I'd love to see techno become anonymous again. Is there such thing as a whitelabel mp3?

    The best people I've dealt with in the music world are people from small blogs (like ssgs) and small dj's on radio/netradio. The effort they put in is done so from a pure place, not from a place of them trying to become famous, or to stay famous.

  34. Really interesting discussion, this. Personally, as both a DJ/promoter and reviewer for RA, I try to be as open as possible about my position, and let the fact that the two things feed into one another be a positive thing (i.e. a vehicle for genuine passion and criticality), rather than a lazy relationship of mutual convenience.

    Transparency is important: if you click on my name under a review, you'll have the option of viewing my profile info, which in turn links directly to my DJ page and event website. I'm also active on the forum, under my own name (maxbacharach). So people know the score, basically (or at least can find out easily enough).

    I make no money from what I do (beyond receiving free music, which I often subsequently buy at lossless quality, or on vinyl), and strive to be honest and thoughtful at all times - surely a basic requirement of genuinely caring about what one is involved in? Anyone who does less than this - and there are plenty - is doing damage to a culture which doesn't actually need them.

    So they should fuck off.

  35. "we need to be able to call bullshit on one another, while still retaining civility/respect"

    dissension amongst the ssgs?, it does come across, two very distinct voices i find coming from here

  36. @PC: Fair response (if a little patronising, insofar as most of what you say isn't something I, personally, need(ed) to have pointed out to me - but maybe others do?).

    Basically, I don't see the interlinks I "present" as being an "expression" or "representation" of transparency (i.e. a kind of positive assertion of some kind). I'm not trying to make a 'display' of the relations - or of my own [ahem] journalistic transparency, for that matter - at all. I have no desire to boost my 'cred' by highlighting the links, nor score extra journo points for being an 'open' reviewer. It's more simply that I'm not trying to hide the connections that underlie what I do, in the way some writers do. That is all.

    Re. the rest of what you say, I agree pretty much wholeheartedly. Of course we should all be able to say what we think (as much as it seems, at times, impermissible in a culture of endless faux-positivity), and have the guts to do so (which isn't always easy). It's a matter of individual responsibility. Anyone guilty of rehashing a press release (or of even fucking reading one, to be honest!) should take a long look in the mirror.


Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

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