Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite on the Current State of Music Journalism: "It wasn't meant to end up like this"
Published Jul 16, 2009Along with the joys and grievances of blog hype, MP3s and the ability to discover entire new genres of music in one busy evening, there's no question that the internet's stranglehold on music has opened up a huge debate about music and the way it's marketed and distributed. Adding his two cents, Glaswegian rocker and founding Mogwai member Stuart Braithwaite recently posted an article on Drowned In Sound bemoaning the current state of music journalism.
Here's a tasty excerpt:
The NME and Melody Maker (and, back in time, Sounds) were huge in letting me know about exciting new music when I was younger. I'll leave it to bitter Guardian journalists to write the scathing comparisons between the modern and bygone weekly music press but I think what has been largely forgotten was the huge power in shaping people's tastes in music that they had. Some would argue that the editorial policy being run by brand managers rather than music obsessives is the difference between then and now but I would argue that that is a symptom rather than a cause, and what took the power away from the small band of Oxford graduates in a big building in London is the internet. And I'm not sure that we have anything better now.
It's 2009 and the idea of even waiting for the release of a record before hearing it, never mind buying it, is antiquated. The very mention of a new band's name, you can go to their MySpace and hear what they sound like. I became aware of this when we were touring before our third record and people clearly knew the songs, even though the record was months from release. I'm not whinging about lack of sales through downloading, incidentally. It's more how we see music through these changes that interests me. When music became freely available in this way, it excited me on so many levels. Imagining suddenly that we'd all become free of the shackles of the herd mentality to music and all become wiser and everyone with an amazing song or idea would be able to distribute their music to anyone and everything was going to be wonderful.
When I was younger I used to think that the only reason that Labradford sold a fraction of the amount of records Robbie Williams did was because people hadn't had the chance to hear them. I was wrong. So. Fucking. Wrong.
In 2009, the source of critical opinion has changed but the outcome is the exact same. Swap '90s NME for '00s Pitchfork and people are still willing to buy into pretty much anything they are presented with. Both publications have of course championed some great music but isn't it a little bit sad that with all the music now at our fingertips we still need someone else to tell us what to like?
Read the entire thing here.