“I have few regrets. Writing for Fasterlouder is one of them.”
What was the immediate inspiration behind this blog entry? Clearly, it was a long time gestating, but did something specific happen to trigger you writing it?
SB: Unlike a lot of people who were writing at FL at the same time I was (Denis Semchenko and Andrew McMillen are two who come to mind), I never wanted to be a music journalist or music writer. The idea of concentrating solely on bands and popular music sounds crashingly boring to me. I like working as a general journalist because it allows me to learn about things that I wouldn’t have investigated otherwise. At that point in my life, I just wanted to improve my writing and who the hell and Faster Louder seemed like good options.
Nowadays, everyone has a blog and everyone’s a critic. That would be fine if it was kept to obscure blogs that I never had to see, but thanks to FL that’s not the case. I’ve seen a string of reviews on FasterLouder lately that are poorly written and geared to rile people up and attract trolls. What’s the point of publishing stuff like that?
Also, I’m playing music again after taking a three-year break from playing gigs and I’m being reminded just how hard it is to make shows work. I know so many bands with reasonably sized, dedicated fan bases who made those fan bases by good shows and hard work – not by ‘good’ reviews and hype.
Have you had any response from Faster Louder about it yet? Are you expecting any? Any interesting responses from anywhere else?
I haven’t had any response from FasterLouder yet, but I’m sure one won’t be far off. Photographer Dan Boud made the point in the comments on my blog that I’ve given bands publicity through a highly trafficked site and therefore didn’t have anything to apologise for.
I’m interested as to why you still enjoy blogging for who the hell, but not for Faster Louder. Is it because of the personal contact? The fact that your copy was edited at who the hell? The Australian focus?
When I was a teenager, I had a few friends with cool older brothers whose taste in and enthusiasm for music really influenced what I listen to. Who the hell plays a similar role. We find music we like and share it with people, adding a bit of commentary for good measure. It’s that simple – if it’s Australian and I like it, I’ll post it up. The people reading the blog may or may not agree with what we post, but I still really enjoy doing it.
On the face of it, the two sites look reasonably similar (leaving aside the Australian slant for a second): both don’t pay contributors and yet clearly make money for someone. Both don’t appear to have an editorial focus, or much of a critical voice. (My main beef with who the hell is that it seems to universally praise all new Australian music, but doesn’t bother to explain why particularly and doesn’t even attempt to differentiate between good and bad.) And yet the two are clearly very separate in your mind.
They’re separate in my mind because I feel involved and valued at whothehell and exploited by Fasterlouder.
I’ve explained what who the hell’s MO is in my previous answer. We all have full-time day jobs and other priorities and interests. We share music we love. We have enough trouble finding time in our day to do that, and we’d rather spend that time on stuff we like than ranting about stuff we hate.
We get sent plenty of Australian music that is absolutely shithouse, and some that, while it has merit, we can’t force ourselves to like. Why would we share horrible music with you guys that we wished we’d never heard in the first place?
Faster Louder and Mess And Noise are owned by the same company.
Yes, they sure are. I have my own beefs with Mess and Noise, but that’s a story for another time.
“Exploiting the bands they write about by requesting door spots for their writers.” Really? Why is that exploiting bands when they receive publicity in return? isn’t it the bands’ choice?
I’ve never believed that “any publicity is good publicity”. I’ve never read a review and thought “wow, I should check out those bands”. There’s a lyric in The Bronx’s song ‘Knifeman’ – “This isn’t music, it’s a pyramid scheme”, and I believe that Fasterlouder along with many other brands and companies are exploiting actual musicians to cash in on the whole youth culture, festival scene kind of vibe and corporatising it. That’s nothing new, but still.
Look, publications that request door spots for writers who they pay for their work – that’s fine. FL requests door spots from bands for writers who aren’t paid, often aren’t knowledgeable and often turn out shit.
“My copy also wasn’t edited or proof-read, which is why the site isn’t (or shouldn’t be) held in particularly high esteem.” Isn’t the first part of this sentence true for any personal blog?
Yeah, it is. FasterLouder isn’t a personal blog though.
Can you explain this comment a little more? “When venues shut down, when bands chuck it in, when street press publications aggregate content and fill columns with ads instead of editorial – these things are indirectly my fault. Sure, I graduated to being paid to write for street press on the back of my FasterLouder portfolio, but looking back, it’s clear that my success was at the expense of hard working bands.” Why do you feel you “undercut and undermined” the bands you wrote about? Is the context that your review appears within really that important?
It is to me, and maybe I’m a bit of a bleeding heart that way. When I decided that I’d like to be a journalist, I decided that I never wanted to do work for an organisation whose principles I didn’t agree with. The fact that I don’t work for QLD Newspapers or Today Tonight helps me get to sleep at night.
I feel that FL takes advantage of the free economy with bands/musicians/gigs, and by publishing my copy without editing or proof-reading did more harm than good.
Filmmaker Paul Rankin just emailed me a link to a blog post he wrote about being paid in exposure. I’d like to add it to my reply.
Paul says: I’m pretty tired of being told I’ll be remunerated for creative work with “exposure,” Why would I need someone else to give me exposure? If I’m making something worthwhile, the exposure will come, that’s the beauty of this voracious ecosystem we call the internet. People race against each other to share the new best thing. It’s a wonderful perpetuating machine into which one only needs to drop a half-decent piece of work and suddenly the resultant ripples multiply themselves. But that’s not really the point. If someone is offering exposure as recompense for your time and work, they’re operating of the assumptions that exposure is both scarce and sought after. It’s not scarce, see above, and if you’re seeking exposure, you’re not really in it for more than your image. Or maybe you need to compensate for mediocre work because, see above again, if you’re making anything decent exposure will flood to you. It’s really easy. Creative people: make something worthwhile and it will get noticed — anyone offering exposure is just a parasite on your industry or art form.
[We are currently chasing up Faster Louder for a response – Ed]
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