Aye Tunes – Too Nice?

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Almost wrote this post last night after drinking a significant amount of tequila, but thought better of it, and wrote a surprisingly coherent album review instead. Tonight I’m sober, but I’m going to go ahead with the post anyway, even though it might come back to haunt me.

If you read my blathering on Twitter – and if you don’t you aren’t really missing much, but why not? – you might have heard me mention an email I got yesterday relating to Aye Tunes. On one hand this was nice, as I don’t get very much in the way of comments or feedback round here. On the other hand, as it called me a variety of names and had a go at me, it was a bit less fun.
In between the cursing at me, there were a couple of reasonable points raised, so I’m using it as an excuse to have a wee vent and address a few things. Names have been taken out to protect the innocent and guilty alike, quotes from the email are in italics, and I’ve edited out most of the swearing. I did leave some in though, so be warned. And away we go!

Mate, your blog is pointless – well, yeah. Aren’t most?
All you do is praise shit bands and give good reviews to your m8s. The first bit comes down to opinion and taste. The second part I’ll come back to. But really, “m8s”? Round about there I stopped caring what else was said.
It’s no good saying good things about [bands] just cause you are pals with them. True, and again I’ll come back to this one. A particular band was named, but it isn’t very fair to drag them into it.
Useless cunts like you are why so many crappy bands think they are good, they’ll never be famous. Useless is a bit strong, I make a useful hat rack, draft excluder, or distraction to allow time to escape. I’ll accept the c-word part though. However, famous? I really doubt that any of the bands I cover here are out to get rich and famous.
Everything you write praises bands ands records. “Ands” was his too, I left it unchanged to be a prick. See below for my response to this one.

There was more, but it got a bit repetitive and sweary, so I won’t repost the whole thing.

Now, onto the main points. Do I give good reviews to bands because they are my pals? That’s a dead easy question for me to answer. No, I don’t, because they aren’t my pals. I might blether a wee bit with a few bands, some I’ll swap emails with now and then, but I doubt very many bands I’ve written about have me on their Christmas card list. I’ve only met a handful of them! On the few occasions I’ve written about anyone who I do have a particular bias towards, I’ve been sure to declare it, and you can judge for yourself if it’s affected what I’ve written. In general though, no, they aren’t getting me to stay nice stuff about them because they are my friends, they’ve got me saying nice stuff about them because I like them.
Oh, in fact, fun story: a while back a band who actually are my friends, made up of old workmates, asked me if I’d manage them. Leaving aside the obvious flaw that I wouldn’t know what to do if managing a band, I said no. Why? They were rubbish. I told them as much too.

Am I too nice? Do I just give positive reviews? Well, yes, I pretty much do only write positive reviews. There’s a few different reasons for that, but the main one is I buy almost everything I review. Sure, I do get sent things to review occasionally, but the vast majority of records I have to pay for. Considering I’m, as you might know, on the dole, that means I’m more picky about my purchases than I would be if I had a load of spare cash to throw around. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise if I like a record I bought. That’s why I bought it!
Likewise with gigs. I do get the occasional guest list, but mostly I’m buying tickets or paying on the door just like everyone else. As with records, I can only afford so much, and getting from my house to Glasgow and back for a gig isn’t really all that cheap. Letting me in free doesn’t mean I’ll give a good review either.
I generally won’t slaughter anyone though, so maybe I am too nice. Instead, if I see someone I don’t like I’ll just not write about them. Support bands not being mentioned in some gig reviews isn’t usually an accident you know. Rather than slate someone I saw, I’ll choose not to mention them. If I’m sent a record I don’t care for, I’ll politely send back a reply saying it isn’t for me, and decline doing a review of it.

I’m not a professional music journalist. I’m not even an unprofessional one. No one pays me to listen to their stuff, to go to their gigs, or to write about it. No band even takes me up on my occasional offers for them to buy me a drink at gigs!

Want to know what bands I think really suck? Corner me at a gig, I’ll happily name the ones I think are garbage. On here though, I’ll keep focusing on what I like. If you don’t like my writing that’s fine, most of the time I hate it too. If you don’t like the bands I write about that’s fine too, your opinion is just as valid as mine, just different. I would suggest you might want to stop reading Aye Tunes though, and do something you enjoy instead. The song posted below should sum up my feelings here…

And So I Watch You From Afar – Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate

So, at the risk of being called a cunt a lot again, any thoughts?

Comments

  1. Jim says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention, I replied to the guy’s email saying much the same thing. Nicely.

  2. sean says:

    I left a big long reply and it didn’t fucking save. So in short, your right, this guys a fucking spanner. There are enough negative bastirts about without bloggers starting on folk as well.

  3. Stef says:

    Thought that was bang on Jim. Different strokes for different folks and all that, the internet’s a big place. No offense, but it’s not like you’re the editor of the NME or something with thousands of gullible kids hanging on your every word!

    I read a similar post a while back on another blog along somewhat the same lines, basically slagging off a series of Glasgow bands for going to each others gigs thereby making each other ‘famous'(?!) by providing a decent crowd. Sounds eerily familiar in a logic-defying kinda way…

  4. Julia says:

    I enjoyed this a lot. Perhaps if you were going to write about bands you didnt like it’d be called naw tunes. Also if someone thinks you are doing such a bad job why dont they show you how its done? Simple answer: because they can’t spell. (m8s?!!)
    As for the bit about being famous(?!) I hope the emailer is right in his predictions. As these days fame and talent seem to rarely go hand in hand.

  5. finn says:

    anyone who substitutes numbers with letters and uses the word cunt while trying to make a point is undoubtedly a tool.

  6. finn says:

    though as peenko just prove while i was writing that last comment, there are some exeptions to the rule when it comes to using the word cunt ha.

  7. Billy says:

    I’ve only been following you for a week or so but as far as I can see you’re doing a great job. You have to remember that, on the whole, the people who like what you stay quiet about it. Stick to your guns, carry on as before and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  8. Jim says:

    I think it got a bit lost after I started ranting, but to be fair I think somewhere in there is a reasonable point. Talking up average bands doesn’t do anyone any favours.
    However, as I tried to explain, to me I don’t do that. Opinions will vary, I’ll like bands others don’t, I’ll dislike bands that some thing are magic, but I’m not going to start slating people, or writing fewer nice things just to try and keep everyone happy.

  9. Tart says:

    Darling! You know I’ve thought long and hard about why I don’t write negative reivews too. And let this nasty little slug come over to Love Shack where I’ll tear him a new… Anyway, the point is, what’s the reason we blog about music? because we love music, plain and simple. Negative reviews only serve to highlight the “taste” of the author and do nothing for the band. And as you say, we’re no music critics, just fans. Now once in awhile I’ll slip in a teensy point of criticism. Perhaps a different song order would have been a benefit, or maybe the songs were formulaic save one or two, etc… But you know that’s constructive! And my opinion!

    Yes, I’m friends with a few bands. Yes I put them on my blog and I tell everyone how great they are as musicians and as people. Because I’m a FAN. Duh! Nothing wrong with that at all, m’dear. You just keep doing whatever the fuck you wish on your blog. IT’S YOURS!

    Now I’ll stop shouting and tell you how wonderful you are and that your dedication to all the little bands who appreciate what you do so very much is not pointless, no not at all. This blogging business goes both ways; it exposes people to great music that they won’t find on their radios or in their shops and it also encourages us, your fellow bloggers to keep doing it, to keep expanding that circle of new music exposure. So thanks darling, don’t stop. You’re one of us, we’ll not let anyone get you down, xoxo

  10. peenko says:

    I still think that you should name and shame, or at least give me his email address, you might be too nice to do anything, but I’d happily tear the cunt a new arsehole.

  11. Alastair says:

    Dude, the guy who emailed is probably youngish. Like you said, why would someone take the time to review stuff they hate? It’s like on Matthew’s Song, By Toad, he won’t go for unsigned bands so much, because, well, they’re starting out. Why ruin a new band? Plenty of bands started shit and got better. I can think of a bunch, some of whom are friends.

    Anyway, just thought I’d say, and I’m sure you won’t but, don’t lose faith.

  12. Jim says:

    Negative comments are welcome too btw, I wasn’t fishing for compliments.
    Cheers everyone so far though.

    Doubt naming the fella would accomplish much Peenko, other than making me look like a bit of an arse not not being able to take a bit of criticism, no matter if it was rather unconstructive. If he answers my reply to him with a mouthful, then we’ll see.

  13. vivouk says:

    I think your point about omitting bands you dislike(d) from your posts is absolutely spot on. I believe that negative reviews do almost as much to promote a band as positive ones. I’ve discovered a few bands just by reading something and thinking ‘they can’t be that bad, can they?’ Sometimes, they are that bad, but the fact remains that I wouldn’t have sought them out before seeing the review.

    Nowadays, two big things have happened- 1) Google, where every mention of a band/act is likely to show up. They prioritize based on the website’s popularity, not the opinion being expressed. 2) Fewer people caring what the ‘established’ names think. Circulations of the big music magazines have declined as people have unprecendented access to music from everywhere. We’ll save the debate about the morality surrounding this access, but simply- exposure = attention = success.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, and thanks for posting this so we could have a conversation about it.

  14. The Pop Cop says:

    I’m all for naming and shaming. Seriously. If you see a shit band, write that you saw a shit band and name them so that other readers don’t make the same mistake or at least they can’t say they haven’t been pre-warned. Same with the guy who slagged you off. Stick his email on here, see how he likes it. Tosser.

  15. Nick says:

    Like others have said, the opinion of anyone who uses the word ‘m8′ in the non-motorway sense isn’t worth worrying about, but you’re right to start the debate here.

    On the negative review question, it’s a difficult line to tread. As for me, I’ve always tried to be constructive if I’m giving an unsigned band a bad review. Back up the points properly, maybe even offer a suggestion or two, but I wouldn’t omit the review completely. One band I ripped into still use the quote on their MySpace as a weird badge of honour. And they’ve improved markedly since then – not that I’m claiming credit for that!

    I think it’s best for bloggers/journos/critics to keep some distance from bands. Sure, have a chat after a gig if you feel like it, but too many bloggers get too friendly with the bands in their town and it comes across like a narrow, self-serving clique. To me anyway.

  16. Geg says:

    Jim, I lurk through millions of blogs and I’ve pieced this one together (because of the Song by Toad post!). I never knew we were so controversial! Weeeell Gid!! Geg – TiK

  17. sean says:

    Hi Jim, I think there is a fair old consensus here. I think anyone of us who follow the scene and promote the bands we like try not to write negative reviews. It’s pointless and helps no one. As for writing about your mates bands, we all know each other now because we all end up going to the same gigs and talking to each other. It’s not deliberate, we are all just sociable peeps with a shared interest. I like your blog, it’s balanced in that you are upfront about the fact you are writing from the position of a fan. That is more honest than a lot of music journalists, particularly the ones who will write negatively about musicians whom they have a personal gripe with. The person who sent the email is probably young and either in a band or friends with a band who you have ignored. The plus side of this is he has sparked an interesting debate amongst a bunch of people who’s comments I have found very interesting and highly entertaining.
    Good work bunch of musical type folks!!!!

  18. Jim says:

    Crap, Geg has seen through my leaving out band names. Other bands were mentioned too though!

  19. shmb says:

    We were talking about this the other night. I find it’s quite easy to come to the conclusion that bloggers have some underlying reason for writing about bands, especially in a positive way, but it’s the wrong conclusion… because we’ve had dozens and dozens of blog reviews and things over the last 11 months since our EP came out, and we knew none of the people that posted up the reviews, and none of them got a free copy of anything, or guest list places, or anything. I am an entirely unsexy band leader and (sorry to the rest of the shmb) we are patently uncool as a band, with no friends in high places or fashionable members. In our case that guy’s argument is meaningless.

    The way people write about music and distribute music and so on is clearly changing, and I think a lot of people still find it very hard to understand the place of the ‘amateur’ in the process… as exemplified by this book here (which I heartily condemn…) http://www.amazon.com/Cult-Amateur-Internet-Killing-Culture/dp/0385520808

    The guy who emailed you clearly believes that his imagined motives for your actions are the correct ones, but the kind of inspecific anger he spouts is extremely pointless, I reckon – railing against progress. It’s much easier to track the authority and independence of writing on a blog than it is in a magazine – I wonder if this guy writes into magazines and criticises them for reviewing big releases favourably… There is a fundamental misunderstanding on his part that there must be a link between positivity and corruption, instead of recognising that no one would read your blog if it didn’t seek out thing that were actually pretty good.

    Or, in other words, fuck’im, here’s a tool. You should post up his email address, at least so that spammers can pick it up and try and sell him viagra and counterfeit goods.

  20. Milo says:

    This guy is not only ignorant, but also includes personal abuse and his email has no positive motivations behind it whatsoever. Therefore it should be ignored as the rantings of a troll.

    It seems that there are always people who don’t like to see others doing something positive and try to knock them down – who knows what fucked up motivations lie behind it but I think it’s clear to everyone else that Aye Tunes is a cracking wee blog!

  21. Jim, don’t let these people bother you. I had the same thing happen not that long ago, though it was cause I dared to write a critical review. It was, may I add, the only critical review I’ve ever written. Anyways, I guess my point is that it’s fine for people to have their own opinion and views on music and I think as bloggers we accept they have the right to air these views on our pages. However, when somebody resorts to personal abuse it’s gone too far. Ultimately, the only person that comes across as a dick is the person doing the abusing.

    Mate, this is a top blog. I read it all the time. And for the record, I didn’t know you other than to say hello to when you reviewed my band. But I appreciate what you wrote. As I’m sure all the others you’re promoted are too.

    Ultimately, ignore the people who slag you off, cause the only people that matter are the ones who appreciate what you do. And from the looks of all the comments, that’s a fair chunk of folk.

  22. Ryan Sharpe says:

    If they can’t spell, then they’re not allowed to criticise anything, by anyone, ever.

    I do the same thing with support bands, I wrote about one just the other night that I had totally written off before they had struck a note, they ended up properly impressing me.

    For what it means, your twitter ramblings liven up my feed and I do often pop on here to find new bands/gigs, etc.

    Loving the idea to put his e-mail up, ‘m8′.