If you’re not familiar with the work of the British music writer and academic Andrew Dubber, then this is a perfect place to start. He’s a man of many talents, with a very future-positive outlook to make all the current music industry doom-sayers blush. Rather than me boring you trying to sum up all he does, here’s his bio as appears on his website andrewdubber.com:
Andrew Dubber is an academic, author, public speaker, blogger, music reviewer, radio and music industry consultant, whisky writer, podcaster, record collector, DJ, broadcaster and record producer. He is Reader in Music Industries Innovation at Birmingham City University, an advisor to Bandcamp and Planzai, manages half a dozen blogs, and is the founder of New Music Strategies – a pan-European music think tank and strategy group. In his spare time, he coaches productivity and time management.
Mr Dubber has just published a new article on his blog called “Music Journalism Is The New Boring” where he takes to task the notion that nothing interesting has happened in music in the past 12 months, a stance currently being pushed by some of the world’s major publications such as the New York Times and the Guardian. Dubber positis that the problem lays not with music culture or musicians themselves, but rather with the old stream media and its failure to adapt to these exciting new internet times:
[...] while “beige against the machine” is a cute and retweetable one-liner, it’s nothing more than a cheap shot based on a faulty premise: that something went wrong with music in 2011. That musicians gave up en-masse and just made safe, ineffectual and dull music.
There are quite a few problems with that idea. I’m just going to mention just three here, but you’ll no doubt think of your own too.
1) You can’t complain about a dull year in music if all you do is report on the pile of CDs that ended up on your desk as a result of public relations and major label marketing. If you were looking for urgency, relevance and innovation in that lot, you’ve misunderstood the process. No matter how much you shout “Challenge me!” at your stereo, it’s not going to oblige if you keep putting Coldplay CDs in it.
2) Even if you are looking outside the pile, chances are you’re still looking in the wrong places. Things that sound like (or aspire to sound like) the music that did make it to the minor landfill of compact discs cluttering your desk are not likely to be any better. After all, it’s no longer the job of rock music to be urgent or important. And it’s certainly not the job of mainstream rock music. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but guitar, bass, drums and vocals is no longer by default a counter-cultural lineup. The same can be said for R&B and mainstream hip hop. It’s possible to do radical stuff in those musical domains, but it’s certainly not the norm.
3) IF IT’S BORING, DO NOT WRITE ABOUT IT. In fact, write that on a post-it note and stick it to your laptop screen. Writing about boring is contributing to the boring.
The guiding question for interesting music journalism needs to be “Yes, but what else is out there?”. More than ever before there is the opportunity (even the need) for major publications to employ investigative music journalists and people with genuine curiosity. We all know what can happen when people with these kinds of qualities are given a decent platform.
John Peel-ism should be the norm by now.
You can read the rest of the article here - it’s worth it. It’s also worth checking out the comments section, where some of the journalists being criticised in the article get to have their say. Andrew Dubber has some very enlightening things to say about the music industry and new technology, and he says them very well. If you have any interest in these areas (and music culture in general) or even if you’re late to the online party and just want to find out what the hell is going on, then be sure to check his website for regular updates.
Thanks to Joe Muggs.