Good blogs gone bad
Dani Deahl and the author dish it on DJ-oriented blogging.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 02.18.10
Earlier this month, local DJ Dani Deahl, who co-owns Calamity Jane Recordings and runs the DSquared blog, told us that songs from her artist Pilotpriest were leaked to numerous blogs worldwide, including kanyeuniversecity.com, run by Kanye West (our request for comment from Mr. West went unanswered). Just as Google began a wholesale deletion of MP3 blogs over copyright-infringement complaints, we met with Deahl to discuss the issue.
Do artists who give away others’ music for free via their blogs have a greater responsibility than an average joe? Their power of impact is so much greater. Established acts are in a position where people look up to them. Some, like Kanye, are more than artists; they’re cultural brands.
Does that type of action devalue music as a commodity in general? It could actually work in your favor. A lot of electronic artists are making very little from sales. So while I want to be clear that people should not give away music for free [without permission], there are instances where we’d probably make more money off someone’s actions—however wrong—than if we tried to do the PR ourselves.
Wouldn’t it make sense to designate certain tracks that officially go to blogs? Then they wouldn’t be stealing and the PR could make money in the long run. It does breed a different kind of business model. We have the label, but we also have a booking agency. We’re giving some music away for free [i.e., approved singles], but it improves our artists’ profiles so we make more money on the back end. But theft still happens. I just had to send a cease and desist to a blog in Brazil that had ripped tracks from Pilotpriest’s MySpace page.
Blogging has become great freestyle journalism, but it’s clear that many aren’t following a professional code of conduct. The majority of bloggers have no formal journalistic background. They review songs based on their personal experience, which doesn’t necessarily devalue it, but there’s something to be said for a professional opinion from someone who knows what they’re listening for and came about it through the proper channels.
Everybody’s a critic. People are so quick to put their mark of approval on whatever they like that a lot of artists are putting out subpar tracks. They don’t work as hard or master their tracks properly. I think that’s why people like my blog. If there’s something I don’t like about a song, I’ll write that.
A comment on DSquared referred to blogs as the new record store. But it’s not a store when you’re grabbing something for free. On the plus side, people come up to me at gigs and request new Wale or new MSTRKRFT. These people would never know where to go in a physical store to get underground music. They’re getting turned on to these artists from blogs. It’s a whole new way for people to be turned on to underground music.