When I entered the blogosphere I had a working relationship with a reliable music publisher who, until he died, did a great deal to promote the music I wrote. I also had plenty of places to write articles for publication, but I did not enjoy having my work edited (for content) because what I had to say did not fit the commercial goals of the publication. I wrote CD reviews for a magazine (and still do) where my content was left intact, so I knew the joy of being able to state what I felt was the truth in print. My first blog posts were articles that I had written at the request of music magazines, but never saw publication as articles.
I also had put in many years in radio, back when radio was a kind of two-way conversation between the person doing the show and the person listening, and the person doing the show was somewhere within a 50 mile radius of the listener. I had many years of experience as a performing musician as well, and had a nice working relationship with my community and the musicians who floated in and out of it over the years. I also had a teaching job at a community college (and still do), and wrote program notes for an orchestra (and still do).
I can't believe that I am having nostalgia about something that never existed in real time and in real space. When musicians (I'll call them "classical musicians) first discovered the blogosphere as a "place" to find like-minded people and to present their ideas about music and music making for discussion, it was like being in a cafe in Vienna at the dawn of the 20th century. I used to feel a wonderful sense of camaraderie there, wherever "there" happened to be, and felt a nice balance between my normal working life and my "sidebar" life in bloggery. What was lacking in my daily life could be found in the connections I made through writing and reading musical blogs. It was a lot of fun.
Things have changed.
After my publisher died, his company was sold to a large entity that had its own agenda. That agenda didn't include promoting my music, so I had to figure out a way to do it myself. That's when I made my thematic catalog blog. I also decided that I was no longer interested in writing music that could only be distributed (sold) by a publisher who may or may not decide to promote it. Musical publishers have the unique ability to decide what they want to make available and what they want to keep unavailable. Most of my published music is available in libraries, so I thought that a catalog blog would be the best way to direct people to music I have written. I am proud of the music I have written, and I don't want it to get too lost in the din.
When I realized that the Werner Icking Archive (now incorporated into the IMSLP) was a perfectly reliable place to make my newly-written music available for musicians to play, I decided to forgo the idea of making 10% royalties on sales of music, and make my music available to musicians without any exchange of money. Keeping track of money is a task that I abhor, and with the amount of money that performing musicians make, considering them a "market" is rather distasteful to me. Being productive is important to me, and communicating with people is important to me. Selling is not.
Unfortunately, in this commercially-driven world, selling is the way the exchange of intellectual proper is evaluated. Bloggers without commercial agendas seem to have slipped out of the musical blogosphere, and the commercially-minded bloggers have taken over. Norman Lebrecht, who I gave a few points to for his interview with Thomas Quasthoff, is contributing to the death that he seems to want for classical music by reporting on gossip from its underbelly. Unfortunately there is little to read at his Slipped Disc blog (notice that I don't have a link) these days. For a while I was enjoying some lively discussions in comments, but there is little worth commenting upon there anymore. It is not a blog about music, it is a blog about superficial musical activity. I don't really care about the music "scene" in large. I care about music.
For a while, while he was writing The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross was the king of the musical blogosphere. All bloggers wanted to be noticed by him, and a "nod" from Ross was a feather in the cap of any musical blogger. He was a "pro" because he blogged at The New Yorker . Though I have found many of Ross' New Yorker articles worthwhile, I was not particularly impressed by the book. I suppose I was in the minority.
Perhaps some people no longer participate in the musical blogosphere because the effort of writing does not give the kind of feedback that they expected it to give. A single voice in the wilderness can be loud and can have a great impact, but when you have millions of single voices offering their opinions about music, you get a cacophonous mess. Perhaps some people have gone elsewhere to blog for money at commercial blogging entities (those that sell advertising), where they might get paid a little bit for their writing.
I'm hanging on because I don't have an alternate agenda. I need to have contact with people in the "outside world" because I always have. I'm not afraid of being wrong when I state an opinion, and though sometimes I end up having the "last word" in a discussion about something, that is not my goal. Perhaps, in this age of Facebook and twitter (two entities I don't participate in because of their superficiality) the blogosphere will never return to its former "self." One blogger I enjoy reading jokingly defined blogs as being "so 2008". Perhaps that says it all. But, for the sake of people who prefer to communicate in words rather than captioned pictures, and in paragraphs rather than the number of characters you are allowed in twitter (whatever that number is), I'll remain where I am and who I am.