Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Music reporting must get more inquisitive

On The Record’s wish for 2008? That we’ll start to see proper media coverage of music business stories. This writer has lost count of the number of times that music industry stories have received unquestioning and uncritical coverage on radio …

Fri, Jan 4, 2008, 08:57

   

On The Record’s wish for 2008? That we’ll start to see proper media coverage of music business stories.

This writer has lost count of the number of times that music industry stories have received unquestioning and uncritical coverage on radio shows, in newspapers and online.

Indeed, when it comes to entertainment stories in the media generally, the gullibility of journalists and broadcasters is quite staggering.

Smart PR flaks and flunkeys can get away with murder simply because music stories are, by and large, viewed as soft content on the news pages and even on some of the entertainment pages as well.

Use a nice pic, make sure there’s a product or event tie-in and, bingo, there’s a lot of column inches in the bag. There’s certainly little chance of anyone asking some awkward questions about supposedly sold-out shows or the real reasons behind gig cancellations.

This soft-soaping will probably continue unabated in 2008. After all, Britney is still around, Boyzone are back and “unforseen circumstances” can be dragged out again and again to explain away the cancellation of gigs which have tanked.

But there will also be more and more music business stories grabbing column inches. Look at the amount of space in the last six months dedicated to Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” release, the rise of Live Nation, the fall of the traditional music retail sector, Prince turning into a newspaper delivery boy for The Mail on Sunday and the ongoing download kerfuffle, to name just five stories which were covered in 2007.

Given that all of these issues are part of a much bigger picture relating to seismic, unprecedented changes in how the music industry operates, lax and lazy coverage does no-one any favours.

It does, though, demonstrate a huge ignorance about how the actual music industry works, which can be exploited time and time again. Sandi Thom and her handlers were not the only ones to capitalise on that, as the number of stories written in the last 18 months about how bands have become stars thanks to MySpace shows.

It’s easier to toe that line rather than pointing out that breaking a band actually involves hefty amounts of gigging, old-fashioned promotional activity and writing decent tunes.

Readers deserve better in 2008.

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