Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Artful Scavenger: Music News for the 21st Century (Part 1)

The beauty of the Internet is that any bit of information, once introduced to the blogosphere, can gain instant traction and launch itself in a million different directions. So, a news story — let’s say, a music news story, for the purpose of this blog — has its original source:

“Skelter tell they’re breaking up.”

(I use Skelter as a hypothetical example, by the way, because I know no one in the band will be offended…because I was in that band. Shameless, I know, but I’m not offended.)

Anyway, reports this and 200,000 readers see their story that morning. But that’s just the beginning. People take that bit of information and pass it along on Twitter, Facebook and countless other social networks. Among those digging into the information carcass are music blogs. Not every music site gets to interview Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page or the singer for Skelter. But that doesn’t mean their followers don’t expect them to report it.

Ah, that’s an interesting concept. is run out of a basement in Poughkeepsie, New York, with a single editor and two unpaid student writers. Why in the world would readers expect that site to have that story…that soon? Once upon a time, when the Earth’s crust was cooling and the Internet was just a gleam in young Al Gore’s eye, people learned about their favorite stars from broadcast media, like magazines and TV. If Rolling Stone, the magazine, got an exclusive story, they wrote it up well in advance of their print date. The story then broke the day the magazine hit the newsstands. Oh, maybe there were news reports on TV if the artist had major star power, but it’s more likely your favorite band broke up two months before you learned about it.

In this nigh-Triassic Period, our industrious publisher of Skelter News, the magazine — if he had no advance warning from his sources…if, indeed, he was in a position to even have sources — would then scramble to make some calls, get some quotes and then try to have his own story written in time to make his next printer date. So, four months after the fact — oh, let’s give RS and Skelter News some credit for stopping the presses, etc. — let’s say two or three months after the band broke up, Skelter News readers got the story from their favorite Skelter magazine.

Wow. If that story breaks today, we expect to have that news from the minute it breaks — even though exists in a Poughkeepsie basement, with no real insider contacts. Readers expect it.

What an amazing leap, both in technology and expectations.

(To be continued…)