The most frequent question that readers have asked me recently pertains to the release time of the music that I have written about; something on the lines of “But, but, but these are old albums!!!”. ‘Oblong‘ was released in 2020 (there might have been a relaunch of sorts in 2021), ‘Hymns For The Drunk‘ is relatively new coming out as it did in 2022, ‘Year Of The Horse‘ in 2021, ‘Baemaani‘ positively ancient in its 2018 vintage! Gives one pause to think about music journalism (I have the freedom and luxury of not being one) and how we listen to or even perceive music. If a release doesn’t get listened to and written about in the first few days of it being let loose, it might as well be a motherless cub soon to be dead from a paucity of publicity. It seems to be an affliction that affects creators and listeners equally. Writers don’t want to write about something that is dated – we are talking about even a month of release – and listeners don’t want to be caught dead wearing that which is old hat. Editors have a job to keep their publications alive ergo the pandering to an already shrinking audience that desperately runs to be frenetically ahead of itself and the world around it. That further feeds readers’ angst of being left behind. The dance that fits the zeitgeist is the simple, easy-on-the-mind (only because it’s mindless) move called the circle jerk.
In my experience while running a record label of the PR activities around an album release, this right-here-right-now nature of slapdash publicity used to leave me laughing in mirth and a touch of contempt. Even AI in its developing form could do a better job, I feel. We have lost depth and with it the ability to care and to inform intelligently. Many of the ‘reviews’ that I read feel more like a hastily-worded pamphlet. How often do we listen to the music that we write about after we have dropped a word dump of what we think of it after a hurried listen? Art is interpretive, at least good art definitely is. What it tells you changes with time. You discover nuances as you experience it more. All of that is lost in your hurry to be in there among the first with your ill-formed, poorly informed opinion. How can you be a trusted guide – for isn’t that what a writer is too? – when you are constantly waylaid by the ruffians of short-term gains?
What completely boggles me is how bloggers too fall into the same trap! We are under no pressure of editorial oversight and yet many of us take the same approach of keeping to currency! What was it that I wrote earlier about the freedom and luxury of not being a journalist. Same as with my wildlife photography, I am not cornered by timelines and contracts. Not even by how many people read or see what I post. I do make some effort to get these more visibility but I am not consumed by it. I am happy if even one person discovers something new and it’s fine if no one does. What I mean is that it’s a very enabling feeling to be able to publish exactly what you want to, to not have to pander to the times. There is such a thing as conviction and the sheer joy of writing. While I understand the pressures of a commercial publication, I’d like to see them strike a balance of pandering to their audience while taking their roles as guides more responsibly. And to everyone that writes independently, do it with abandon. Write like nobody is reading and they just might.