April 7, 2009 by A.C. Rhodes
How have you, your friends and colleagues been doing in the face of layoffs and downsizing?
Category: Question of the Week
Luckily I’m working in the arts here in Seattle, and for the most part, the upper crust is still going to lots of ballet and theater so I’m hangin’ in there. My partner’s company almost went under though, but things are turning around for them too, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Actually, I just got a gig writing about music at my town’s alternative
weekly. I think people should settle down and figure out how to do more
online, and print less copies – but try not cut out printed editions all together,
because that would SUCK.
This question was posted two weeks ago and it has only been honored with two responses? Yikes. Either the very question about the viability of print journalism gives us all MEGO, or everyone really is doing badly indeed, so badly, they’ve all scattered.
Layoffs and downsizing effect all of us in the media. If you’re on staff, you get laid off. If you’re a freelancer, you’re faced with dwindling markets and increased competition from all the legitimate writers and editors who’ve been laid off. What’s to become of us? Honestly, I don’t know what the endgame is. I do know that it’s really difficult to make a living freelancing for magazines and damned impossible making a living writing on the web.
So, what’s to become of us? One significant task would be to uncover an alternate stream of revenue. Because as we get older–I’m in my mid 40s now–and the weight of responsibility grows more burdensome, it does become more about the money. It must. Unless of course you’re one of those aging metro rock critics that refused to give up the single life or get a haircut. In fact, what’s to become of THEM?
I’m thinking McDonald’s.
It’s hard out here, yah. So I’ve decided to pimp.
(Literally – I’m having to oversee the Blurt Twitter shit, which I said I’d never do: http://twitter.com/BlurtMagazine )
Instead of wondering what’s going to happen to rock criticism in the Internet age, maybe we should be wondering why people are turning away from it altogether. Sure, we can chalk it up to the decline of print as an economically viable medium, which most certainly plays a part, but rock journos need to face the fact that the entire game has changed beyond whether you’re slinging newsprint or electrons.
We need to realize that virtually all interested parties with an Internet connection can probably get their hands on music as we get promo, which eliminates the “Look what I got” lazy angle of reviews. We need to accept that streaming and leaks mean a moderately informed listener is going to probably get more out of listening to online samples of music than a painfully long and fluffy breakdown of the sound. We need to wrap our heads around the fact that two of the easy, lazy roles of rock critics — description and introduction — are radically less important now that listeners can bypass us and do that for themsleves pretty easily.
That doesn’t mean we’re dinosaurs. We just need to up our game, start thinking about the music and opening up a dialog about it on a larger level, take it from the “Sounds like X, Y and Z bands and is good/bad” bullshit and attack it from a more considered angle.
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