Well, I’m back. Largely due to the generosity, skill, and patience of Tim at The Blue Walrus, who helped me moved this site to this spankin’ new location, and even added some design features to make it look kick more ass. Thank you, Tim. Without your efforts I truly would not be doing this any more.
Thank you also to the select few who threw a couple bucks at me to defray costs. Much appreciated.
So, the climate for bloggers is far from warm right now. It’s downright frigid. Why am I back, then?
Mostly, because this is the only road I’ve ever known.
When I was a young lad, I performed as lead singer and lyricist in a little band called The Not So Hots. We lived up to our name, but we had a blast. In college, I was known to perform Newcleus’ Jamonit over a live band’s rendition of Rapper’s Delight. Again, I had a blast. I grew up in a home where my mom worked for a major label, and I was surrounded by music all the time. My sheep dog’s nose was one of the many hundreds of noses that found its way into Mick Jagger’s crotch. I’ve also always been a pop culture writer, in some form of another, as a hobby. A break from the monotony.
In 2004, around the time of Arcade Fire’s “Funeral,” a friend turned me on to a few music blogs. I wanted in. And I’ve been in ever since.
In the beginning, I was unsure what my purpose was. I had my first RIAA run-in when a PR team sent me an advance of MIKA’s debut record. I posted a song from it, “Grace Kelly,” and was served with a harsh and threatening notice that I was about to be thrown in jail and then boiled in a vat with living cats. I got the hell out of dodge, deleted my Blogger account, and moved to WordPress with a newfound purpose: To help small artists reach ears.
But there was temptation. I wanted a bigger audience. I saw lots of bloggers getting lots of hits for posting leaked Guns N Roses tracks, or uploading entire Kanye West albums, or even just posting a song or two from the latest Brian Wilson release. I knew I didn’t want to do that, but competition drove me to skirt the edge of the major labels. Then, last year, Web Sheriff started hanging around my site. He attacked me for posting a live song by a Jack White side project. I became further resolved to avoid RIAA material, and never mentioned The Raconteurs again.
About a half year later, I moved back to Blogger, the corporate shill of Google, because WordPress.com could not support a few technical features I wanted to introduce. Then, about a month ago, my posts started disappearing without warning. So, I’m done with Blogger. I’m done with major corporate music. I’m here, on an independent host, and here is my pledge to you and to the RIAA/IFPI:
I will do my best to discuss and promote only independent labels who have made it clear that they are interested in blog promotion, by submitting material directly to blogs, quoting good blog reviews, offering give-aways here, etc. I will also do my best never even to mention any official release by any label affiliated with the RIAA or IFPI. It will be harder for me to avoid the European watchdog, because I don’t generally buy or receive imports and it is difficult to impossible to tell what UK counterpart is affiliated with an independent artist. But I will do my best. If I screw up, I’ll quickly delete any offending links and may delete the post altogether, thus eliminating any reference to the artist from my little streetcorner.
To those who sometimes feel compelled to tell me I’m a snob, or plead that their artists shouldn’t be hated because of their label’s actions, etc.: Please leave or deal with it. My reasons are clear, as are my motives. I don’t hate the artists. I don’t hate the playa. I hate the game.
So, I will avoid major label releases, and generally will avoid major label artists as well. I won’t even buy their stuff. I will never purchase a Kanye, NaS, or Jay-Z CD again. Or Ryan Adams, John Lennon, Death Cab for Cutie, or even (whimper) The Clash. Not because I hate them, but because this is what I do. I support the little guy. And money talks. Without our financial support, wonderful small labels will up and die. Emerging artists will never grow. That’s where I want to help. If you’ve gotten the attention of a major label, you don’t need my help anymore. And the guys who sign your paycheck have made it clear that they don’t want my help.
Of course, unofficial bootlegs are still fair game. But I will be more cautious, selective, and deliberate. I don’t have a problem promoting, e.g., Joe Strummer, because I am confident that he would find what has happened to the recording industry to be a perfect death for an evil beast. After all, he insisted that the 3-record Sandinista! release not cost more than a traditional double album. The Clash regularly underpriced (or comped) their gigs. Ditto The Grateful Dead. These are bands that had the spirit of independence. Ryan Adams does, too, and I’ll support his tours and gigs with my dying breath. Any band that allows taping at their shows is up for discussion here, even if I can’t promote their official releases because I can’t sanction giving money to their corporate parents. Again, not because I hate them, but because they don’t need my money and don’t want my bloglove.
I am, of course, concerned that I won’t have much of an audience by sticking with small bands and relative unknowns. But as long as I’m clocking about a G worth of hits a day, I’ll stick around. Less than that, I dunno. If I can reach more people shouting out a window, then it isn’t worth staying around. So if you read me via RSS feed, I’d really appreciate it if you’d just pop on to the actual site. So my numbers stay up. Without numbers, the indies won’t use me, I won’t get good giveaways, and, most important, I won’t get advertisers (I don’t make much, but I what I do make pays for the site).
I want to thank all who wrote comments and sent e-mails during my brief hiatus. They were, and continue to be, much appreciated.
Now, without further ado, I want to welcome you all to the new but still fiercely independent Berkeley Place. I hope you’ll tell your friends about this site, and support it.
Independent music depends on you.
Why else did I return?
Because I did nothing wrong. I have nothing to hide. And my monkey must be free.