Monday, December 7, 2009

Is It OK to Dance at a Concert You're Reviewing?

ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE is getting into the restaurant business with an eatery set to open in Hollywood next summer. They say they won't have memorabilia like the Hard Rock Cafe, and they won't be a music venue.

If they were to have a music venue, would it be a conflict of interest? Could they write critically about the performers they promote at their club?

And how about this: can music journalists dance at concerts they are reviewing or does that reveal their bias?


Joe said...

that's a problem i've had with pitchfork of late. how can they curate a music festival AND review music? only have bands play that they don't review? of course that doesn't work. their headliners are always bands they go apeshit over, like animal collective. i suppose they solve that problem by including bands like elf power who can only garner mediocre 6's and 7's. i guess one could call that solving.

it could be a major conflict of interest. bands would be willing to play for less money and to a smaller audience if the publication gave them a good, often sales-boosting, review. that goes for any music mag.

going back to pitchfork. they link to to purchase albums they review and they stream the albums using lala, a digital music service. always thought this was kind of sketchy. you have to sign up for a lala account to listen to the music. thoughts?

stuff like this is why i the only music writing i can take seriously is in a magazine like chunklet or magnet where they're not afraid to lampoon the same labels and bands that advertise in their pages.

Don Hoegg said...

Yes, it would be a conflict of interest. That's probably why Rolling Stone (wisely) chose to avoid it...

Sam Thomas said...

No it is not a conflict of interest to dance and enjoy a concert you are reviewing. If you are going to give it a good review because you enjoyed the show, why not enjoy the show?

Geo said...

First of all, if you are dancing, how are you taking notes?


But really ... can you write/ report critically about a band if you are a fan? Think about Phil Jasner who has been on the Sixers beat since they used peach baskets for hoops. He has never rooted for the home team. And Philly is his home.

Is there a difference when it comes to music, or reviews?

- George
(the teacher who is making a fun job seem so much more difficult than it could be).

Sam Thomas said...

First of all, what if notes are not your thing?

Second, I disagree with Phil Jasner's general opinion about being a fan and covering a team (and its the same for music). Being a fan does not mean that you can't be objective, or critical. Anyone from Philadelphia knows the fans are often the most critical. The important thing is, you have to remember that you have a personal opinion and a professional opinion. As long as you know which is appropriate at the given time, you will be okay.

Anonymous said...

if your not a fan of the music wouldn't you be more likely to give a negative review?

Geo said...

If you are not a fan, will you necessarily give it a negative review? I don't think that's the case.

Believe me, when you get out there, you'll have to cover way more stuff than just what you like. And you'll have to approach these things almost scientifically. Are there merits to the work? Is it artistic, creative and pushing the boundaries of the craft?

What if note-taking is not your thing? Well, if you are a journalist, note-taking MUST be your thing. Because journalism is a discipline of verification, dedicated to the truth. It's not a process based upon your memory of events. You need to write down details of what you experience.

- George
(the teacher who suggests you carry a notepad everywhere you go)

foodFitnessFreshair said...

Oh, I like this! I love Rolling Stone Magazine, and I can only imagine that their highly profiting company would produce a great restaurant. I would love it was also a music & dine & enjoy some music, and maybe some free magazines, all at a restaurant owned by Rolling Stone...this sounds amazing!

Wafai Dias said...

I don't think that they can be critical on their own guests which is why it would be best for them to invite other magazines to do that.

Dana said...

Think about Clear Channel, all of the radio stations they own and music venues and how it becomes a conflict of interest to listeners and concert-goers. I think I remember one story of an artist that Clear Channel promoted on their airwaves and when it came time to touring in their venues, the artist disagreed and Clear Channel threatened to take them off of THEIR airwaves because the artist would not tour in THEIR venues. It starts to spoil things for the listener... though listeners should not be tuning into Clear Channel radio stations anyway because they deserve to go bankrupt and stop corrupting the airwaves. So stop listening to Q102,"my" 106.1, radio 104.5, and power 99FM and support the good guys, 88.5 XPN, Temple's 90.1 WRTI, 103.3 WPRB Princeton and WKDU 91.7 the ONLY free format non-commercial radio FM station in Philadelphia (if only all radio stations were like that, life would be heavenly). Long story short, this is what I thought about when I read this blog post.

that rant felt good.

Geo said...

WKDU is the greatest station ever. Their reggae Saturdays make my winter go by so much quicker. Love it.

- George
(the teacher who would listen to Roger Culture any day of the week)

Christopher Malo said...

I know George disagrees with some of my journalistic practices, but I don't think it's wrong to dance at a show I am covering.

If I am a fan of an artist, I often tell them at some point during or even after the interview, if and when it comes up. It seems silly and un-authentic for me to deny I am a fan. They know and the readers know they are going to get a fair and unbiased piece, and part of the reason we have been successful at connecting with both fans and artists (even when we slam them) is because both know we are authentic and fans of the music and artists. And being a real fan is different than being a yes-man. We call it as we see it.

C.David Freitag said...

What if they don't dance, they just pull up their pants? I know from experience that I can do the rockaway and lean back and still take notes.

I agree with my fellow "bearer of christ" above me (The C stands for Christopher). Objectivity is a goal that shouldn't be thwarted by being a fan of what you're covering. There's bands for instance that I am a fan of, but only because of certain albums or periods in their history. I would still attend their shows and sing and dance to the songs I like, while booing the ones I did not (I'm from Philly, I'm a heckler by nature - what'd ya expect?). Usually this happens when a band is good and then they sell out I guess. Thats the clearest cut example I can think of. "I like his early work" sorta deal. Ha ya know.

Diana Cooper said...

I think Rolling Stone will resemble Hard Rock Cafe in many ways even though they claim they won't. It won't be a conflict of interest, I think a lot of fans of the magazine will also be fans of the venue. They probably won't want to write critically about the performers because they are the ones who decides who performs or not. Also, music journalists should be able to dance at concerts. Who is going to know they are a journalist? Unless they write that they were dancing or that people recognize them at the concert, than no one would know.

Pseudo said...

If you are assigned to cover an artist you enjoy is it your obligation to turn down the story?

I don't believe its impossible to keep your opinions separate, but it would probably be difficult. Personally I believe people's musical tastes differ anyhow, so I am not exactly sure how you can write a story about someone's music without forming your own opinions.
As far as the question goes, dancing is fine. Its when you write in all caps "THIS IS THE GREATEST BAND ALIVE" as your headline that the journalists bias is really revealed.

It would probably be best to form a rough draft and then interview different concert attendees just to assure you aren't giving the artist too much credit.

Geo said...

Interview attendees? You mean actually do some REPORTING?




- George
(the teacher who thinks all journalists need to report stories, not just opine)