February 16, 2009

This love is fucking right! Or is it?

A long time ago, I started a weblog about music. The name was Revolution In The Head, and the main initial motivation was to force myself to stay informed about new music myself. By writing in English about bands I loved, as a nice bonus I practiced my language skills a bit as well. Things went well for a couple of years and I enjoyed what I was doing. Then, after a while, I made the mistake of installing a website traffic counter. You know, one of those things that keep track of the amount of people visiting your website and the URL where they're coming from.

Inexplicably, I started to care about that.

Slowly but gradually I shifted from posting because I wanted to, to posting because I wanted to keep the visitors coming. Why? I have absolutely no idea. What did I win and what did I lose? It didn't last long. With that wrong motivation the result was not often pretty, or worth reading, or fun writing.

Without having given it hours of thought, I can think of about four reasons to start a weblog about indiepop music. The most obvious reason is probably the same reason why people have been writing traditional fanzines for decades: the writers love the music, and like writing about it. Then, secondly, it might be for promotional reasons: the bloggers want more people to know about the music that means so much to them. Of course this reason often comes in combination with the first. Thirdly, there's a chance that some bloggers want to show off a little bit. They're proud of all the music they know or own, and want other people to be aware of that. Finally, there seems to be a portion of bloggers who post only for the sake of posting, who post just some MP3-links, sometimes with an added copied text from sources like the All Music Guide. The main motivation here seems to be to increase website traffic and to obsess over statistics.

I can't know any of this for sure, of course.

The reason I started this ramble is because I sincerely wonder what's the point in having a blog if you can't even put the effort in of showing the slightest bit of personal enthusiasm for the music you make available for free downloading. Where is the real satisfaction in just seeing your website counter go up? How do you benefit in having people not pay for music? Don't tell me you're fighting the system. Or do, actually. That might be an interesting take on things.

This post is not a rant against people posting links to free MP3s of complete indiepop albums. Honestly. That's for another day, perhaps. I don't necessarily object to people downloading albums. I'm not a hypocryt; I do that as well. But indiepop lives by the grace of passion. The whole indiepop community only exists because people are willing to put in their love and try to enthuse others with that spark. So if you want to be part of that, if you want to contribute to that it's really not that hard. Even if you decide to post a complete album, don't you want to tell us why you post it, why you love it, where we can buy it?

Look at me. I'm not a writer. I don't know a lot about indiepop. I just clumsily try to tell you what I like. I'm not very good at what I do. I don't claim my blog is better than any blog out there.

But I'm having fun.

I'm not telling you what should be fun for you. I can't, even if I'd want to. But I'm sincerely curious. Where is the satisfaction or fun in just posting a link and leaving it at that?

9 comments:

gotthisontape said...

Bonjour,

it's a really nice post and a really nice blog you've got here ...

Très agréable à lire ...

--
JL

alex said...

I agree with everything you've said here, Dennis. I don't understand the attraction of posting music for the sake it - it takes away from the full discovery process and overwhelms me. One or two songs, sure, but if I want a whole album, I'll hunt it down in a record store or on ebay. You're right - it takes the passion away. Where's the fun in writing a blog if there's no passion in what you're writing about?

Maybe I should install a traffic counter to see how many people read my silly ramblings!

Dennis said...

Haha Alex, be careful! It could be the beginning of the end. ;)

(Also, you would be noticing a suspicious amount of visits from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I'm quite obsessive about visiting the blogs in my blogroll.)

fredrik said...

I too am quite obsessive about visiting my blogroll, an obsession that used to be even worse. A while ago I visited a lot of blogs out of mechanical addiction, or vanity for expanding my music knowledge. In the end this left me with a feeling of complete indifference, and I decided to keep only the precious few that I actually enjoy reading, and to skip the lot. I kept you for your non-elitist approach and nice voice, your personal quality posting and good interviews, and for your excellent taste in music. I kept you for being good at what you are doing.

Dennis said...

Thanks fredrik, that's great to hear. Really!

pplist said...

I recently discovered your blog and love what you are doing: the excellent music you post, the moving way you share what the music means to you, and your truly superb interviews. I do want to address, though, your question about why a blogger would mainly post songs without detailing what they mean to him or her. I happen to be one of those types of bloggers and would like to explain why. My reaction to music is based almost entirely on what I hear and how it makes me feel. I don't want to know much about a band or even the names of the songs when I first encounter them. I want to close my eyes and just listen. Almost never has reading or viewing a band made me like what my ears and heart did not. Maybe that's weird, I don't know, but that's how I respond to music and that's how I feel most comfortable in blogging about it. One great thing about the blogosphere is there is something for pretty much everybody. At my blog, I mainly want to post music I love and others might. I'm certainly not doing it that way just to attract more visitors. In fact, I suspect that not opining more probably costs me visitors. Also, although I passionately love music, I’m not particularly good at writing about it. I can discuss it fairly well in person, but not so well in writing. I genuinely admire those of you who have that gift. Despite my shortcomings, I vitally enjoy musical discovery and get a huge pleasure in sharing what I find and love with others who might like or love it, too. I just want to give them plenty of room to decide for themselves. Incidentally, I admire you for refusing to get caught up in traffic counting. That probably happens to lots of bloggers; it certainly did to me. But at several key points, I opted to stay true to what I wanted to accomplish at the blog regardless of what it cost in numbers (and it cost a lot). Kudos to you for doing that. Keep up the great work and play!

Dennis said...

Thanks for your honest reply, pplist. I understand that the musical discovery in itself can give a lot of satisfaction. That's what keeps me going as well, that's the best part of blogging.

I'm glad you find joy in what you do. And of course in the end it IS about the music itself. I personally do love to hear what people think though. To maybe even get to know the blogger a little bit. It's a choice everyone can make for themselves, but in this small world of genuine pop lovers, it's fascinating to me to see what inspires others, and what the music means to them. Opinions are always extremely subjective, but without opinions there'd no real personality, and without personality both people and blogs risk being very interexchangeable.

If you look at what you're doing and can in complete honesty tell yourself that you like it best that way, I have no problem with that whatsoever. My problem is more with my suspicion that quite some bloggers are motivated by the wrong reasons, and that they'll find out it's possible to find much more joy and satisfaction once they manage to get away from the false pleasure of website traffic. You should be doing this mainly for yourself, and not under pressure of attracting a crowd.

What's your blog? I couldn't find it clicking on your profile.

pplist said...

Beautifully put, Dennis, and totally valid. I, too, value those who candidly let their personalities shine forth. I, though, am very shy, a mole, by temperament and custom. I still can’t believe I’ve even been able to keep this blog going for two+ years now. I feel exposed to the world, even under my rock. (As you noticed, I don’t keep a low profile; I keep no profile.) But I love to share the music I’m finding and apparently a few others like it, too. I do respond to comments and private emails and actually love to discuss music, argue over it even, in a friendly way. I’ve tried to open up on the blog, but usually as soon as I do, I either writhe internally or pull back. Sometimes I go back and remove the post or edit it out of recognition. Also, “I know there is this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just fly the whole mess into the sea.” So I have to be careful. Again, it takes all kinds, and I value yours above all others.

(http://powerpopulist.blogspot.com)

Dennis said...

Ha, I completely expected something else when I clicked your link. That's a nice blog you have!

Again, you can do as you want, but don't let shyness get in your way of changing. You're obviously a smart guy/girl who knows his/her way with words, so, to quote another Shins song: "The trick is just making yourself."