Before the weekend I wrote in my post “The new serious” that as a label you have to release CDs to get reviews in magazines and papers. And that the solution to decrease the status of the plastic discs lies in developing the way we compare statistics and in new improved online music services. But, when having some extraordinary cocktails at K bar in Copenhagen with my journalist girlfriend, it struck me that there is also room for improvement from those who writes about music – the music journalist and their editors.
Mp3 bloggers can already call themselves music journalists, and music labels, version 2.0 and have an important role in todays music climate. In a way that has devaluated the importance of “regular music journalists”. But that’s not a reason for old media critics to act as if nothing has changed and nothing can be done. As if there weren’t a huge amount of music released that is not put on CD’s with approval of record label boss that is great and well worth writing about.
I think that music journalists in old media will play an increasingly important role in the future musical landscape – if they want. They have a great platform for filtering. Their problem today is that they’re filtering what has already been filtered witch results unnecessarily further away from the essence – like a cocktail when the ice has melted.
Music journalists, or rather the editors behind them, is addressed to a similar “problem” as the music biz. How do we package something doesn’t come in the shape of a physical product? What is a serious release? What is a release worth reporting about? Is one song on Myspace enough? Or will it have to be five songs? I hope and think that the threshold will get lower and lower and that one new songs is newsworthy enough – under the condition that the journalist believe it’s a great one.
I came to think of one way of packing it in a daily morning paper format, inspired by the 33 1/3 series, where interesting people write columns about interesting new music selected by competent journalists. The journalist job here is to select a song and select a writer that might be able to write something from a different angle and add something to the original music and lyrics - like the way a good music video is fueling the experience of song. I imagine that authors, musicians, finance journalists and other great lyricists can write great columns on music from a different perspective. The texts are highlighting music but is not writing about a song per se. The objective of the text is to inspire the reader to go to the web link that is ending the column and listen something new that has been filtered by the journalist and refined by the writer.
This way of combining old media music reporting with the new music distribution possibilities could be named journalism 1.5 – a blending of the old and new. The selection is made on what’s available in an unfiltered “cloud” on the web. Via focus on the written word and good old journalistic skills it’s delivered to an audience that isn’t used to consume music on the web.
The reason why I’m writing this is that I think that it’s easier for individual journalists and editors to change their behavior and try new creative ideas than it is for labels and musicians. After all journalist are the ones that we in the music biz is addressing to spread the news of our fantastic releases. If they start writing about the best music out there and not just the music that is being sent on CD’s that will also make it easier for labels that want to try creative ideas on the web to reach out.
Again, this way of thinking corresponds to the trends stating that the future is about the music rather than the product. Entertainment journalists in old media have a great possibility to strengthen their positions as deliverers of news. The 0.5 upgrade will make it easier for journalist to be investigating rather then reporting, which eventually will increase their status as taste makers in the community. There are great music critics out there but they, as well as the business, can do much better in terms of packaging.