Fans Are the Future of Music Journalism

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In almost every panel, every discussion, this was the core message that came through. Don’t suck at playing music.  Don’t suck at writing about it.  Don’t suck at seeing the bigger picture. Don’t suck at realizing that future potential of technology is more important than squashing it short-term gains.

That was a funny and deft summary by Claire Marie Blaustein to her Blogcritics  article  about the discussions during the music journalist panels at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit.

Needless to say the article got my brain firing and heart pumping.

I got pretty worked up when I read the article because I feel very strongly that the future of music journalism lies in journalists ability to not only tell the story of the music but also tell THE STORY OF THE FANS

This might not be the only path to take– and seems like a novel idea to focus more on the fan experience–but it’s certainly one way music journalists can reclaim some direction or reinvent our craft. I know I’ve had a great time exploring and experimenting with it so far here on Live Fix.

But the truth is that not every “music journalist” or  “critic” has the tools (music knowledge + people skills+ story telling chops ) to tell a good fan focused story.  I know this because I’ve done it. And it’s hard. 

It takes time and energy because, though I love reading them, there aren’t a lot of examples to follow among most music websites and blogs. 

So I’ve had to create my own rules by pulling from unlikely sources and plug away at it day by day, while keeping up with the usual grind of reviewing music the way people expect to read about their favorite bands and emerging artists.

And, as the article points out, the curiosity of many music journalists these days is lacking because of  the sheer amount of music available for review.  So I think it’s extremely challenging to simultaneously review what you know and still explore new music.

That said, I feel for my fellow music writers and I don’t fault any of them for a lack of curiosity because I know what were all up against.   

But if I were to offer a suggestion to my fellow music writers…

One of the ways I’ve dealt with the girth of music that floods our way is that I always strive to pursue music writing from a state of constant curiosity.

Another thing that’s helped me is that I’ve always loved writing about many different genres and live music experiences.  I do so because I know that it adds depth to my writing and keeps things fresh.  When I’ve written about hip hop for several album in a row, a great rock or bluegrass album always catches my attention and reveals nuances about each different genre.

And that’s how I approach Live Fix, too. I actively seek out all types of live music experiences.

And I always rely on my curiosity because I’ve long since faced the truth that most of my music writing idols and peers have been at it for a lot longer than me and have way more “music knowledge” than me. 

But I don’t let that stop me.

Because along time ago I decided I wanted to do something fresh, and try “not to suck”, so I created Live Fix.

I have a passionate and raging curiosity for understanding human behavior and a love for live music.  And I wanted to read about those topics together in the same context.

But I didn’t see anyone writing what I wanted to read.

So I created my own micro-music niche via Live Fix. 

And as I move along, I depend on both my own music knowledge and curiosity and the work of others to further my explorations on Live Fix.

You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again just in case you missed it:

Aside from satisfying my own curiosity, giving fans a voice is at the heart of why I  do Live Fix. I strongly believe that the stories of fans and their live music experiences need and deserve to be told.

And on top of that, there’s way too much amazing stuff to discover about the psychology and physiology of live music:

Like what goes on inside our minds, or what is the impact of live music on our bodies. 

I love exploring it all!

And with each Live Fix post, I see the truth that fans, music writers, and artists all have a need to express what goes on in their mind and hearts during a concert. 

So in the spirit of Studs Terkel’s ground-breaking book “Working” I seek to tell the type of stories and concert experiences that everyone doesn’t think wants to be heard or told. I also hope to create a community or a tribe of concert fans who desire to learn more and celebrate their experience on a deeper, more enlightened and empowered level. And when I think of what this community is like and what it can do, I think of what Seth Godin talks about in his book Tribes.

And I know there are concert fans who are looking to join such a community because whether it’s in the comments or privately via email, I’ve received several amazingly personal and emotional responses to this post, on which I wrote about experiencing grief, joy and community in live music.

There’s a lot more that I can say about “The Future of Music Journalism and not sucking” but I’ll stop here.

Because I want to hear from YOU now.

Fans, writers, musicians, PR folk , label owners, venue owners, etc.

What do you think is the future of music journalism?

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  • http://www.r4card.co.in r4i

    Hi,
    I am such a big fan of music when ever i free i turn on my i pod and listen music from it whole day…
    I also searching for music info like lyrics albums singers and much more….
    My favorite music types are sad songs , Fast Rock and Roll type songs and some really Hip Hop…
    So this article will make me more better in music knowledge and also some kind of fun…..
    Thanks for sharing some valuable info…

  • DD

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have gone to many a fabulous fan experience only to read the critic then next morning and wonder if we were both at the same event. It should be part of the critic’s criticism to take into account the reaction of the audience. That is who the artist is trying to appeal to, isn’t it? Does it matter more if musical perfection was achieved or does it matter more if the artist connected with the crowd and the crowd enjoyed every minute of it? Is the crowd too busy getting drunk to even care, IE: Kenny Chesney? Or are they up on their feet dancing the night away, ie: Keith Urban? Or maybe the adults are napping while the kids are having a good time, ei: Taylor Swift? If the audience is so involved that they are part of the show, the artist reached nirvana as did his/her audience and any review should state it.

  • http://christophercatania.com Chris Catania

    Great points DD! Sometimes when I write a review, and I do include the audience reaction, I wonder if I’m getting it right by following my own instincts and assumptions and feelings. But as I mentioned in my Keith Urban fan post, dialoguing with the fans is very important for me. It helps me to get a better understanding of what fans trully experience during a certain artist’s performance. It also helps me to test my assumptions and see if I was right or wrong. Oddly enough I am usually right, which is a whole other topic that I’ll be writing about in the future.

    And as you expertly pointed out, no two audiences are the same because each audience comes with different expectations and needs. I’m glad you mentioned that because I’ve always wondered what it’s like from the parents perspective when they take their kids to a miley cyrus concert. I’ve heard that some do nap. 😉

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