Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate Bobka’

Underwater Visitations Episode #8: The Blogger Ethics Roundtable

Monday, June 21st, 2010

One week ago, some great minds in music writing/blogging converged at Newtown Radio in Brooklyn. The reason was to discuss the ethics of music writing online, and the recent increase in blogger run labels. The conversation was lively, informative and above all, fun. Those taking part say it was constructive, those listening in were tweeting up a storm.

The forum was organized by Visitation Rites and Microphone Memory Emotion. Ari Stern of Underwater Peoples helped us lead the conversation, and Mark from Newtown Radio contributed immensely with his technical assistance.


Ryan Schreiber, Founder of Pitchfork Media; Sam Hockley-Smith, Editor at The FADER magazine and co-owner of Group Tightener, Michael McGregor, founder of Chocolate Bobka and The Curatorial Club, Mark Schoneveld, founder of Yvynyl and co-owner of upcoming label Trig Club and Chris Cantalini, of Gorilla Vs. Bear and Forest Family Records.

Topics covered:

What’s the difference between a journalist/critic and a blogger? Does the difference lie in the medium in which said person writes?

Is objectivity possible in blogging? Is it even desirable?

Should we think of bloggers more as “curators” than as writers?

Can and should blogs write negative reviews? Does criticism have a place in the blogosphere?

Is it ethical for a blogger to sell what they have created a demand for?

Can a blogger ethically write about something that he or she also releasing? Is transparency enough?

How important is the question of scale? Would a blogger-run label represent a conflict of interest if it ceased to operate on a limited-run basis, and became a more commercially-minded operation with wide-scale distribution?

Does the fact that a blogger-run label boasts its own built-in pr-outlet give it a natural advantage over the traditional record label? Do blogger-run labels have the potential to transform the record industry from the inside-out?

Are blogs the new A&R?

The concept of “firsties.”

At the end of the conversation, we took a few calls and tweets with questions, including what we have every reason believe was a request for Tumblr advice from Carles himself. Unfortunately, we ran out of time mid-discussion. But this conversation was the first of many, so stay tuned.

Stream and download the whole conversation below. Newtown Radio is a DIY operation, so keep that in mind while listening. And no. Someone was not trying to call in via fax machine.

“Underwater Visitations Episode #8: The Blogger Ethics Roundtable”

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Download the discussion here Download the full episode, with Underwater Visitations DJ set, here.

Playlist after the jump.

Horizons: What, If Any, Are The Ethics Of Music Blogging?

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET music bloggers and writers convene at Newtown Radio in Bushwick, Brooklyn to discuss blogger ethics and by extension, the future of music writing.

The discussion is taking place during an episode of Underwater Visitations and features Chris Cantalini of Gorilla Vs. Bear/Forest Family Records, Ryan Schreiber, founder of Pitchfork Media, Michael McGregor of Chocolate Bobka/The Curatorial Club, Mark Schoneveld of Yvynyl/Trig Club and Sam Hockley-Smith of the FADER/Group Tightener. Emilie Friedlander of Visitation Rites, myself and Ari Stern of Underwater Peoples will also join in.

We encourage you to listen and call in with questions and comments! 347-725-4163.

Below is a basic outline of the discussion put together by myself and Friedlander of Visitation Rites. Questions we want to address come after a summary of why we are talking about this.

TMT Debate Piece: Blogger-Run Labels: Conflict of Interest or Evolution?

Friday, June 4th, 2010

In early 2010, the world of online music publishing was home to a quiet transformation, one that may leave a lasting mark on the independent record industry.

In the course of only two months, several popular indie music bloggers launched their own small press record and/or tape labels, operating in conjunction with their namesake publications and specializing in artists that fall within their editorial scope: Gorilla Vs. Bear and Weekly Tape Deck with Forest Family Records; My Old Kentucky Blog with Roaring Colonel Records; Chocolate Bobka with The Curatorial Club; White Guys With Beards with Wonder Beard Tapes; and Yvynyl and Frightened by Bees with Trig Club.

Although these new operations are of many shapes and sizes, the event casts a spotlight on the extent to which blogging diverges from both traditional music writing and journalism writ large. Several blogger-run labels debuted to great media fanfare (as far up on the musico-journalistic pecking order as Pitchfork), despite violating one of the greatest tenets of traditional journalism in any medium: the belief that the writer writes primarily for his or her readers, and should not stand to benefit financially or professionally from any opinions expressed within his or her writing.

Do blogger-run labels represent a conflict of interest? Or is blogging a distinct form of communication entirely, exempt from the ethical standards of journalism and criticism? If so, what sets blogging apart from other media? Do any rules apply?

To put in your two cents, kindly head over to Tiny Mix Tapes and post a comment. On Thursday, June 10th, Underwater Visitations will team with Microphone Memory Emotion to host a radio panel on blogger-run labels and the ethics of online music writing. Guests will include Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, Chris Cantalini of Gorilla vs. Bear and Forest Family Records, Michael P. McGregor of Chocolate Bobka and The Curatorial Club, and perhaps a few surprise guests. Interesting comments on the TMT thread are guaranteed to be factored into the discussion!

Tune in to Underwater Visitations on Newtown Radio next Thursday, 4-7 EST.

Horizons: Flavorpill’s “40 Better Reasons to Get Excited About Music” : Spotlight on Music Writing

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Last week, Flavorpill Music Editor Judy Berman asked the ubiquitous Visitation Rites “us” to contribute a few lines to the publication’s official response to Rolling Stone’s “40 Reasons to Get Excited About Music” cover story this month. We too found it a bit sad (if not slightly disturbing) that the latter publication couldn’t think of anything more exciting about music in 2010 than the Black Eyed Peas (reason #1), whose invaluable contribution to our generation’s cultural bequest was honored by a feature article entitled “The Science of Global Pop Domination.” Asked to pen one of Flavorpill‘s “40 Better Reasons to Get Excited About Music,” Visitation Rites produced the following flight of techno-optimism:

#5: Anyone can be a critic: “The ’90s may have taught us that ‘anyone can play guitar,’ but now any music lover with a working internet connection and a brain can share his or her enthusiasm with the public and rest assured that at least somebody out there will be listening. Having more music writers out there may mean a higher volume of shoddy criticism, but it also means that those of us who aspire to do more than post MediaFire downloads and paraphrase press releases can do so in dialogue with each other, prodding each other to come up with better and better explanations for why certain music makes us tick — and why it seems to be happening at this moment in history. Arriving at that understanding collectively — as a generation, even — is much more exciting than listening to what some snarky loner type sitting at an editorial desk has to say.”

Among other responses related specifically to the changing face of music writing in the digital era, Sarah Lynn Knowles (aka Sarah Spy) also contributed the following words on the promising (though admittedly controversial) proliferation of several blogger-run labels this year:

26. Blogger-owned labels: “Just within the last two months, we’ve seen Weekly Tape Deck and Gorilla vs Bear’s joint venture Forest Family, My Old Kentucky Blog’s Roaring Colonel Records, Wonder Beard Tapes from White Guys with Beards, Chocolate Bobka blog’s Curatorial Club, and soon-to-debut Trig Club from Yvynyl and Frightened by Bees. I know some have questioned a blogger-turned-label-head’s ability to stay unbiased once they’ve got a financial stake in product-pushing; but I think subjectivity was kind of the point to begin with, and readers will continue trusting tastemakers whose preferences align with theirs, regardless. Overall, I’m eager to see how this plays out — which labels (and others that inevitably sprout up behind them) fade after a one-off release, versus which evolve into something huger.”

Read the “definitive” list on Flavorpill.

For an adamantly alternative viewpoint, please view Christopher Weingarten’s “Music is Math” speech at the 140 Characters Conference today, in which he disparages the “bland middling taste of the internet hive mind.” Weingarten also contributed to the Flavorpill list; among his other highly viral one-liners, we find “crowdsourcing killed indie rock” to be his most memorable.

Words: Emilie Friedlander

Arthur Radio Transmission #11: The Love Like Deloreans Episode

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Scene 1, Off Air
In which DJs Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites arrive at the Newtown Radio studio ready to set up but are hypnotized by a 25-minute bongo-laden siren dirge — Dreamcolour’s “Spiritual Celebration” — at the tail end of Sunday Brunch with Chocolate Bobka. Unbeknownst to them, the song spills fifteen minutes into the beginning of their set.

Scene 2, Aside
Meanwhile, Peter Pearson, Derek Muro, and Lorna Krier of Brooklyn’s Love Like Deloreans steal away from their home base — a renovated closet space in Bushwick containing some 20 synthesizers — load half of them into a Volvo station wagon, and appear at the station door, successfully breaking the spell that has been cast over Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites.

Scene 1, On Air
Still haunted by the specter of the siren from Act 1, Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites attempt to communicate their experience by layering ambient musics from lands as far and wide as ‘70s Germany, early 21st Century Northampton, and present-day Canada into a single organic continuum.

Scene 2, Aside
In which Love Like Deloreans set up all seven of the synthesizers they brought in the drowsy blink of a Sunday afternoon eye, causing Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites to suspect that that they too possess supernatural powers. Love Like Deloreans do their best to assuage their fears, suggesting that they are simply “putting the punk back in punctuality.” Exeunt Chocolate Bobka.

Scene 1, On Air
Love Like Deloreans perform the first half of their in-studio. Dancing, Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites attempt to document the event through Blackberry photos, Tweets, and a FlipCam.

Scene 2, On Air
Love Like Deloreans pause to participate in an informal Q&A with Visitation Rites, touching upon their origins as a group, their cohabitation of the classical world and Brooklyn DIY, their roots in New York minimalism and Kosmische, and why the best way to listen to their music is while traveling cross-country.

Scene 3, On Air,
Love Like Deloreans perform the second half of their in-studio. Dancing resumes. Ivy Meadows films an excerpt of their set through the anamorphic lens of an oddly shaped water bottle, the results of which can be seen below.


Download: Arthur Radio Transmission #11 with Love Like Deloreans 3-28-2010

This week’s playlist after the jump.

Horizons: What, if any, are the political values of “lo-fi” indie music?

Monday, February 15th, 2010

2yjsro2Along with its fetching new face, Tiny Mix Tapes recently introduced a weekly debate feature in which writers drop a loaded question and readers respond with their two cents, the goal being to foster a public dialogue about music on the site itself. Editor Mr. P knows that Biomusicosophy‘s Elliott Sharp and I always get all riled up whenever music and politics are mentioned in the same breath, so he asked us craft the magazine’s second debate question, which concerns last week’s exchange between The Guardian‘s Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Chocolate Bobka‘s McGregor on the politics of “blog rock,” or American lo-fi.

Arthur Radio: The Retro-Future Episode, with Visitation Rites and Chocolate Bobka

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

tlautopiaPostcard for Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland Autopia, 1955

Trekking in the January sleet into the far corners of darkest Bushwick has its rewards. Last Sunday, McGregor from Chocolate Bobka and I had the pleasure of doing an hour-long guest spot on Arthur Magazine‘s new weekly emission on Brooklyn’s Newtown Radio, broadcast out of a unexpectedly cozy enclave on the fourth floor of an unmarked industrial warehouse. The subject du jour was Retro-Futuristic Utopias, so I arrived at the studio expecting to pull together a spiel on Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland Autopia, the Ecological Art movement of the late 1960s, and Douglas Trumble’s 1971 science-fiction classic Silent Running. Instead, we ended up spinning some warped 21st century psychedelia, eating cookies courtesy Arthur Radio co-host Harry Painter’s grandma, and dancing like the slow section of a slow school.

Sightings: The Washington Post on Underwaterpeoples

Friday, October 30th, 2009

underwaterpeoplesThis week, The Washington Post‘s Chris Richards published a fabulous in-depth feature article on D. C. Label Underwaterpeoples. In addition to discussing its roster of musicians, Richards hones in on the label’s unprecedented success in using the internet to build a devoted following from the bottom up. Rather than shoot straight for the media outlets that garner the most hits, UPs has always been adamant about fostering a mutually supportive dialogue with smaller grassroots blogs like Chocolate Bobka, Rose Quartz, Friendship Bracelet, and even Visitation Rites–publications that represent a local and admittedly personalized take on independent music, much like UP’s dedication to promoting a pocket of upstart bands from suburban New Jersey.