Site Meter

The Problem with Blogs

“People who say they like all kinds of music actually like NO kinds of music”
-Chuck Klosterman

I tend to think of the Decibel Tolls as a blog that functions slightly differently than many other MP3 blogs. A lot of bloggers out there, more or less, put themselves in the mindset of a journalist – seeking out the “cutting edge” and the artists of tomorrow while posting up-to-the-minute news. If you’re looking for that, this is not necessarily the right place. Though the Decibel Tolls will contain news and new music, I tend to think in the mindset of a radio DJ, piecing together songs in a form of continuity. The Decibel Tolls aims to cultivate a sound and mood more than create an aggregate for news and storms of publicity. If people visiting the Decibel Tolls are seeking out a certain sound of music, then we’ve succeeded.

Most importantly, though… The Decibel Tolls was started, in part, as a response to the world of music blogging. Instead of music blogs demonstrating breadth and depth in musical taste, genres, and commentaries (the original reason why blogs were revolutionary, right?), to act as a counterbalance to big media and the notion of giving the power of agenda setting to those who own large media outlets, the “blogsophere,” as it were, has since cultivated more of a collective mindset. Instead of blogs being a “power to the people” type institution, they’ve since adopted the same mechanics as a large record or media mogul. Blogs tend to jump on the same buzzword bands, chew them up, and spit them out. If you’re supposed to blog about, I dunno, Lykke Li… then you do, because you have a music blog and that’s what you’re supposed to do, goddamit. This occurs because the handful of tastemakers write up the bands on labels or firms the writers are cozy with (in practice, the music industry is relationship-based, not merit-based – one of the reasons networking conferences like South By Southwest exist), and it trickles down. Musical Reaganomics, if you will. The result – thousands of blogs on the Internet writing about the exact same shit. The idea of a “marketplace of ideas” flies out the window in the interest of getting Internet traffic from people looking up those buzz bands after they hit NPR or whatever. Why would you not want to generate original content and write-up groups that are deserving of press coverage but aren’t all over the Internet? It’s really fucking lame, and we don’t stand for that. Additionally, new DIY artists that are doing interesting things will truly appreciate your write-up and share it, whereas MIA could really give a shit what you say. Wouldn’t you want to be in the conversation of the former? That’s one of the great mysteries of the blogololosphere I will never understand.

So in a sense, music blogs have become the same creature as Viacom. But instead of just bitching about it, I decided to up and start my own music blog. So there ya go – democracy in action.

Though Rolling Stone tends to be as in touch with what’s going on today as Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens and Abe Simpson, they did notice this trend a couple of years ago, and made a rather handy chart presenting the evidence. Interestingly enough, I found it on Stereogum:

The Decibel Tolls isn’t here to create hype – it’s simply a collection of genre-specific music that we love and find significant. There will be a few times when me and the big guys will agree (Deerhunter is an example that comes to mind), but only few and far between does that happen. We tend to root for the little guys, and only give editorial coverage to bigger indie bands if there’s a different slant or spin that we feel is relevant. This blog aims to be vastly different than most that you’ve probably come across. If this is the case, then we’ve succeeded again.