Tag Archives: music industry

On the Devolution of Music Journalism

This piece on the devolution of music journalism by Ted Gioia on The Daily Beast is really great. And I think it’s right.

But the lede…

Imagine, for a moment, football commentators who refuse to explain formations and plays. Or a TV cooking show that never mentions the ingredients. Or an expert on cars who refuses to look under the hood of an automobile.

These examples may sound implausible, perhaps ridiculous. But something comparable is happening in the field of music journalism. One can read through a stack of music magazines and never find any in-depth discussion of music.  Technical knowledge of the art form has disappeared from its discourse. In short, music criticism has turned into lifestyle reporting.

…actually raises two issues that the piece doesn’t really consider: 1) the audience for music and 2) the fact that music journalism has always been largely a niche endeavor.

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What’s the Best Way to Make Music?

I’m rather opinionated about music. Folks know this.

And while all that frustration criticism comes through loud and clear when I write or tweet, I’m definitely not as good at communicating that I understand and respect how profoundly difficult making music really is.

I thought about this when I came across this Tyrese quote on Singersroom.com:

“Producers these days are lazy. Making tracks. Sending emails. I’m just saying. When you make music under the same roof, with the actual artist that you’re working with, everybody is praying together, eating together, laughing together. It’s a different kind of nuance that’s created around music.”  (emphasis mine)

I do think there’s something profoundly special about the music that can come from songwriters, producers and artists spending time together crafting music that the artist feels a close connection to because that artist has had some input into making it, but with that understanding comes a deeper understanding that I think critics of black music don’t articulate nearly enough: what Tyrese longs for is the exception in the music industry, not the rule, particularly with black popular music.

In other words, a lot of people aren’t afforded the luxury of getting into a room with the best songwriters and producers and creating something that they can feel has the personal touch because that’s not the kind of artist they are intended to be, whether they know it and acknowledge it or not. We should be honest about this fact.

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Russell Simmons and His Delusions of a Post-Racial World

Via Alyssa Rosenberg, hip-hop legend Russell Simmons in The Hollywood Reporter drinking the “post-racial” Kool-Aid:

Post-racial America is coming. Sure, it’s true that many executives who live in Beverly Hills don’t live in one — yet. But many aspire to it and thirst for it in the programming they consume. Hollywood has good intentions but no sensitivity. It clearly have no real understanding of how America is evolving.

Someone needs to take the pin out of the Hollywood bubble, just as they have done within the music industry and the advertising world.

This is utter fucking nonsense.

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Contemptuous

From the great Alyssa:

"But I do wonder about what happens to our popular culture in a world where everyone contracts artistic schizophrenia. There's a virtue to concentrating on what you're best at, refining your skills and deepening your vision. If everyone has to go out and prove they can do anything, what works of art aren't going to get made?"

I thought about this quote when my ipod got around to playing Jamie Foxx' new album and I sat through Foxx's best Drake emo singer impression on "Fall For Your Type:"

And my thought is: What happens to our art when a multitalented artist treats one of his gifts with contempt?

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My Thoughts on Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’

I thought about writing a review on this blog of Kanye West’s new album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” But I’ve actually been having a really good Facebook conversation with a young brother I know that captures how I feel about the album, about Kanye West, and all the hubbub around him.

It started when I posted Popmatters’ review of the album on Facebook, tagging a few fellow music heads in my friend list, with the following comment:

This is about how I feel about the album. Though I think a 7/10 is a mite high, maybe a 6/10 6.5…eh. it’s mostly enjoyable tho

I posted the Popmatters review because it captures much of what I feel about the album and is also emblematic of what I consider a real problem in music reviewing: grading on a curve such that you give credit for ambition without sufficiently assessing execution.

Drives me batty.

Anyway, this exchange which took place in the comments of the post was only lightly edited for clarity:

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