Social media can often serve as a time-consuming stream of distractions, but occasionally it offers up a bit of dialogue that reminds us why it is we pay attention. For me, one of those moments occurred yesterday when former Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman took to Twitter in response to PASTE’s post on his Letterman performance.
Tuesday night brought Tillman’s television debut of his new Father John Misty project. The band’s debut album Fear Fun was released by Sub Pop that same day. Watch a video of Father John Misty’s Letterman performance below of the track “Only Son of the Ladies Man” below. As expected, all of the major music blogs fell quickly in line with posts on the footage the following morning, offering minimal context. Later in the day, Tillman took to Twitter for a brief rant on his distaste for PASTE and the current state of music writing in general.
At this point, PASTE’s Multimedia Editor Max Blau interjected in hopes of some clarification. Side note: Blau is a great follow on twitter, and in general seems to have a level head on his shoulders. I was impressed with his attempt to open a dialogue in an effort to more clearly understand the source of Tillman’s backlash. Many editors would have been tempted to ignore the situation in the hope that it disappear quietly.
Music, and the coverage of it, is in a strange place at present. The internet has fragmented the way that we discover new artists and sounds. This subsequently provides anyone with a modem the opportunity to turn critic. This leads to a rat race where blogs are constantly competing to post the latest video or release first. The rush to the front of the pack often results in rushed writing that offers little information. These issues are addressed, rather eloquently, by the recently defunct Louisville blog The Decibel Tolls in their post “The Problem With Blogs.”
Unfortunately, this current arrangement is unlikely to change any time soon. In order to compete for traffic, the rat race will inevitably continue. Search engines and social media platforms are growing increasingly adept at discerning which content is being shared. In theory, this should allow the cream to rise to the top. However, the vast majority of readers are not seeking out phenomenal writing. Instead, they are competing with their peers to break the new “hot video” first and the vicious cycle continues. Therefore, the blogging behemoths will continue to post mediocrity so long as traffic is the end objective. Tillman spoke for a lot of us when he tweeted the following.
Written by Rob Peoni