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 Everett True

An email from the managing director of theMusic.com.au (Street Press Australia)

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Street Press Australia

I thought this was interesting, so I’ve pulled it out of the comments section on this post (with permission), and given it its own post here.

I also thought Princess Stomper’s reply interesting, so I’ve added that on afterwards. (Her final comment is in response to another CB reader’s comment.)

Dear Mr True,

We are writing in regards your attack on the credibility of Time Off magazine in the Collapse Board article penned by yourself and titled “Product Placement Within The Written Word”, prompted by an unauthorised promotion by the organisation Ground Up Music, with whom we have no affiliation.

When SPA became aware of the promotion by Ground Up Music we immediately requested all references to Time Off and theMusic be take down immediately, as the organisation was using both logos and making false claims in regards to editorial. At no stage has Time Off or any SPA media accepted cash in exchange for editorial. The changes to the Ground Up website, since removing false claims under threat of legal action, now simply reflect that they may purchase ads in Time Off. These ads can be purchased at the same rate as any independent band can purchase direct. Any band who purchases a SPA indy band package will receive editorial in the form of a “Have You Heard” which is simply five questions of the band and does not endorse or rate the band in any fashion. The independent band package is in place to provide support for the Brisbane independent scene. It should also be noted that the independent band advertising rate is discounted by 50% on casual rates and has been at the same price for over a 6 years.

Furthermore your insinuation that Brisbane band Love Hate Love received “two features in the hallowed pages of Time Off earlier this year” due to any dealings with Ground Up Music is completely misleading to the point of being unethical. The “features” were actually a 6-pack email interview in September 2011 – the smallest of our interviews which are used to cover emerging local bands and the smaller touring interstate outfits – plus one of the aforementioned small Have You Heard pieces: combined these pieces are completely representative of the coverage we afford active local bands trying to make their way in the scene, and for you to imply that this coverage was somehow tainted due to that band’s subsequent aligning with a new publicist with whom we have had no dealings is abhorrent and has no grounding in either fact or logic.

We are disappointed by the inference that Time Off in any way is influenced in opinion by advertisers. For 1589 issues Time Off has flown the flag for the Brisbane independent scene and we are extremely proud of the history of the title and its commitment to Brisbane music.

At a time when the music industry landscape is changing almost daily we find it difficult to fathom your and other sites’ attitude to organisations who have committed large resources to supporting independent music. SPA in the past 12 months has used over 210 freelancers and to call their integrity into question alongside that of editors and full time staff is deplorable.Whilst we respect your right to an opinion, like we ask of our editors and freelancers, do some fact checking first. Both the publisher and editors are always available for comment on matters that call into account our credibility at any time.

We expect you will continue your attacks on street press, because as the saying goes “Haters gonna Hate”, however please pay us the courtesy that we pay others to both check facts and offer right of reply when opinion represented as fact is clearly wrong.

Regards

Craig Treweek
Managing Director, theMusic

—————————————————————–

And here’s Princess Stomper’s reply:

At no stage has Time Off or any SPA media accepted cash in exchange for editorial. […] Any band who purchases a SPA indy band package will receive editorial in the form of a “Have You Heard” which is simply five questions of the band and does not endorse or rate the band in any fashion.

Does this “Have You Heard” section feature a disclaimer with “advertising feature” written at the top? Because if not, it is you who are misleading your readers. If you are just asking five standard questions of a band under the heading “Have You Heard”, the instruction to the reader is to hear it. You are inviting your readers to hear a band – endorsing them – in return for money. To pretend otherwise is weaselly bullshit.

Combined these pieces are completely representative of the coverage we afford active local bands trying to make their way in the scene

So your coverage gives these bands a leg-up. It helps the bands. In return for money that they spend on advertising.

We are disappointed by the inference that Time Off in any way is influenced in opinion by advertisers

Oh, I’m sure you might actively *hate* some of the bands that you cover, but the fact remains that buying advertising space in your magazine results in interview space that acts as a promotional tool by encouraging the reader to listen to these bands. The reader is presumably not told that the interview is part of the advertising package. If the interview is clearly labelled as being part of the advert, that’s absolutely fine, but if not, then you have absolutely accepted cash in return for editorial.

I have also seen tweets and Facebook posts saying they will not allow a reviewer free tickets again because they slagged off their latest project.

Then the reviews are worthless. If you pay me to say something, it is not me saying it but you saying it.

Most of the music I review is done from streaming links – I only very occasionally get given an album by a publicist, and even then I’m very upfront that I’ll plain ignore anything I don’t like so I think I’ve been taken off a few lists.

Historically I’ve interviewed or reviewed bands I was less than interested in because I wanted into the publicist’s good books, but I’ve never pretended to like a band when I didn’t. Even so, all these years later, I wouldn’t do that now. Frankly, the PR is the least of my concerns: if I want the album, I’ll get it whether they want to give it to me or not. If I want to interview the band, I’ll contact them directly if I have to and it’s up to them if they want to respond (but there are very few bands I’m even interested in enough to want to interview). I’m not going to fucking *play ball*. Big deal, you think: you lose one little bit of coverage for your band, and that’s fair enough, but I get to keep my integrity and that’s priceless. If people weren’t interested in my genuine, personal opinions, they wouldn’t keep asking me for them – and if I sell those, then they’re not my opinions. If I want to get paid for my words and not my opinions, that’s why I have a dayjob (and you won’t see my name anywhere).

This article is relevant, I believe.

9 Responses to An email from the managing director of theMusic.com.au (Street Press Australia)

  1. Miguel Ramirez August 9, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Just keep giving them rope, guys. The plot thickens 🙂

  2. Everett True August 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Email from Tom Valcanis:

    I read the brilliant article on Street Press Australia and wanted to share this with you. It’s from SPA’s old website before they became “TheMusic.com.au.” It’s no longer on their site.

    “[Street Press Australia’s] wealth of experience in youth and music media provides us with the tools to individually target sub-groups within our demographic as well as develop below the line strategies for clients outside of mainstream advertising, which allows us to tailor directly to client needs. This coupled with our numerous partnerships within the entertainment and fashion industry makes SPA the richest bank of youth culture resources and knowledge in the country – and with the trendsetters of today taking their messages and meaning from so many sources, speaking their language has never been more critical.”

    If they aren’t exchanging purring copy for cash, then what’s their raison d’etre?

  3. tim footman August 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    …because as the saying goes “Haters gonna Hate”.

    He sounds like a high school teacher from a John Hughes movie, desperately trying to be down with the gorgeous, angst-ridden teens. I can already picture his plaid sports jacket.

  4. Princess Stomper August 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I have been mulling this over, trying to work out if I was being unrealistic and unfair, but the same conversation keeps replaying in my head:

    Local Band: You’re just being pedantic – Time Off featured my band in the Have You Heard section and we didn’t buy any advertising, so they really are just trying to promote local bands.

    Craig: ““Have You Heard” … is simply five questions … and does not endorse or rate the band in any fashion.”

    Me: So they’re not actually saying that they like you. Nobody at the magazine is saying that they actually like you.

    Band: But of course they must! I mean, why else would the pick us to feature us? They must think we’re worthwhile to talk about.

    Me: Yeah, but they’ve got x band in this week and they’re just there because they bought the advertising space. It’s automatic. Craig said explicitly that this section does not endorse or rate the band, so they’re not promoting you because they explicitly said that they don’t actually like you. I mean, they might like you, but in publicly disassociating the space from their opinions, it undermines their case there.

    Band: So why feature us?

    Me: Because no other band took out the advert that week? So they just grabbed the nearest band because that will do? I mean, if they don’t have to imply any sort of endorsement, any old crap will do, right?

    Band: But we’re not any old crap! We’re the future of rock and roll! I mean, we must be, because magazines are talking about us and we don’t even have to take out any advertising space for them to do so.

    Me: Yes. The space that they couldn’t sell that week, after telling us in no uncertain terms that they do not endorse the bands in that bit. Sorry, hon. It’s not looking good for your band.

    Band: Well, we were featured in this other magazine where they have a features editor who picks out the features, and an advertising editor who sorts out the adverts, and any feature on a band that took out an advert is entirely coincidental. They just interview the bands that they think readers will like.

    Me: See, that I would actually take seriously.

  5. Everett True August 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    He sounds like a high school teacher from a John Hughes movie, desperately trying to be down with the gorgeous, angst-ridden teens. I can already picture his plaid sports jacket.

    Tim, it’s lovely of you to say so but… I’m really NOT a gorgeous, angst-ridden teen.

  6. Miguel Ramirez August 11, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Awesome imaginary interview Ms. Stomper 🙂

  7. Everett True August 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    The previous comment left wasn’t actually from the person it claimed to be from, so I’ve removed it.

  8. Sophie August 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Rave had a “Have You Heard” kind of featury thing. As I remember, you didn’t have to pay to be featured. Then again, Rave is dead and Time Off isn’t.
    If you’re going to be driven by the dollar, that’s totally fine. It’s capitalism! Just don’t pretend you’re not.

  9. ed September 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Looks like Craig might be busy emailing people today.

    “Julian Peterson, a sales and marketing director who previously worked at TimeOut Sydney, said when the magazine launched its iPhone app, rival Stress Press Australia wrote a scathing review in the App Store, before being outed by Mumbrella”

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/fake-online-reviews-mean-cashforcomment-is-rife-20120928-26p4e.html

    http://mumbrella.com.au/time-out-brett-dayman-iphone-35729

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