Please Wash Your Hands Before Returning To Work

It would appear that this blog idea hasn’t really grabbed me that well and the sparse postings seem to revolve around Record Store Day. With this in mind, I would be remiss if I didn’t voice some frustration at how much Record Store Day’s Black Friday event truly boiled my piss. The idea of it gets to me. Another cash in.

Granted, it didn’t seem to get the fanfare of the regular RSD, but still, the premise of it gets me.

Alas, this post will not be about RSD, or any of it’s spin offs. Music Media, here we go!

Last night (19/12/16) Team Rock went into administration, taking with it Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines amongst others. Also going down with the ship will presumably be the self-serving Golden Gods & Classic Rock awards. (Lets not kid ourselves, all music awards, and in fact most of the industry, is about slapping people on the back and telling them how great they are. There’s a fellatio joke there I’m not going to make incase my mum reads this….)

Team Rock heading into administration has had the knock on effect of making 73 people redundant, less than a week before Christmas. Don’t get me wrong; I sympathize with every single one of them. My bar tab balloons at this time of year too! There will no doubt be knock on effects on artists, advertisers and what not too.

However, like many aspects of the industry, printed music media has been in its death throws since the proliferation of the Internet in people’s homes and, more recently, people’s pockets.

Failure to adapt and innovate has hit printed music media in the same way it has hit major labels and retailers. It is extremely easy to start a music blog and tout yourself as a music journalist. Almost everyone out there has the technology in their pockets to make this happen. The down side of this is that the quality in general has been in a steady decline for at least 15 years. In the same way that promoters, labels etc have popped up all over the place since the dawn of the Internet, so have music blogs.

Digital content delivery needs to be improved for magazines to stay relevant. Yes, there are still people like me who would much rather have a printed book or magazine than a digital copy, but publishers have to cater to all readers, if they want to succeed.

The quality of writing also has to be kept to a higher standard than it has been of late. Job titles are banded about at random these days, and ‘journalist’ has taken a complete thrashing. Between unbalanced, biased reviews and write-ups and some absolutely terrible writing. Magazines on all topics are starting to get dwarfed by nobodies in their bedrooms with a far superior grasp of language and prose.

There was a new music magazine launched a few years ago, I won’t name it, but it was named after probably the most covered Motörhead song in existence. Anyway, I bought the second issue. Halfway through reading it I started to wish I’d spent my £4.99 on something more worthwhile, toilet paper for example, or a bag of nails. The writing was disjointed and riddled with mistakes, both spelling and grammatically, but fact wise as well. Poorly edited, poorly written, poorly laid out.

Here I must point out that I do not consider myself to be a journalist, or a blogger, or any kind of writer of note. I write because I enjoy it and have not intention of trying to pass myself off as anything other than a music fan with an opinion.

While I admire this particular magazines owners for having the balls to start a niche music magazine, the execution was, in my opinion, sloppy.

There seems to be a great deal of apathy and mediocrity in music and the arts in general at the moment. I’ve said it before, but it’s easy for anyone at all to start a business as a musician, artist, journalist or what ever else with out any quality control. The knock on effect of this is that it devalues other professionals in the same field.

I’m at pains trying to remember when the last time I read a decent article in a UK music magazine. Now defunct US publication Punk Planet was one of the best magazines I’ve ever seen, in terms of its layout, editing and quality of content. Articles in magazines now are cookie cutter, all you would need to do to write a review on a great deal of occasions would be to take an old review with a similar theme and change the names.

It seems like in a lot of instances, all that changes month to month are the photos of overly trendy wankers. Advertising is also an unholy mess, with magazines offering favorable reviews in exchange for advertising space. Rocksound magazine managed to fuck Wasted State with that one about 8 years ago and I’m still pissing vinegar about it.

I’m not saying music journalism is dead, far from it. Echoes and Dust, the Obelisk and various others are a pleasure to read. There are of course many more, with writers who are part time. Part Time. These people have day jobs, families, pets, children and crippling debt, yet they still manage to trump so called professional journalists at their own game. Most of the time, these people are writing for free!

The advantage of these websites is that they are accessible from any phone, tablet or computer. They might not exist in print, I wish they did, but they (and many others) offer far more balanced, well-written and enjoyable reading. With that available for free, and in a format I can access and read on the toilet, why would I, or anyone else shell out for mediocrity?



Toni Martone

Toni Martone