Mailbag: We Are Not For Sale And You Can't Be Bought!

(antiMusic) The response to last Friday's mini rant about being approached to sell editorial content was overwhelming. We received hundreds of emails about this with only three negative responses and two of those from people that run sites that engage in this practice. We'll get to that in a minute. There were just too many email to respond to each one but know that we really appreciate every last one! We must also tell you that the CEO of that company sent out an apology and retraction the next day and called me personally to apologize. It may have just been an honest mistake by someone new to business that didn't really understand what he was asking editors to do. We'll take them at their word since, unlike some companies, they do not have a history of this but we also told them that we can not cover the releases mentioned in that email. Back to the emails.

Jesus Schwartz writes: I've been a fan of your website for seven or eight years, and one thing that's been consistent has been the quality and integrity of your reviews. I've made purchases of new music by bands I've never heard before solely on the strength of your writer's opinion: Strapping Young Lad, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and Hank 3 come to mind right away, all of which have either expanded my tastes or simply added more choices to an already eclectic CD collection.

I appreciate your article in Friday's edition, "We Are Not For Sale" because it re-enforces my opinion of your site: you don't suck-up to anybody's preferred artists or whoever is the "next big thing", you definitely take an outsider's stance at objectively seeing a musician's merits for as they are, and not as part of some hype machine. There are plenty of articles in your Day In Rock report that I simply pass over because they're either generic PR from the labels or they don't involve anybody I'm interested in, but I always read the ones that your site writes no matter who the subject may be; I love it that you'll print the smart-assed comments in an otherwise "duhh" piece, it's like the Best Week Ever Daily Edition, if there was one...

Response: Thank you so much for your email. It really is appreciated. Out of all of the emails that came in yours really stood out because you hit on the exact reason why we starting this crazy thing almost 10 years ago. The goal was to expose people to great music that they might not hear about anywhere else and it's always gratifying to hear from long time readers and fellow diehard music fans that tell us we helped them find some new music they love. It really keeps us going and focused on what is important and why it doesn't matter if we're not getting rich and are even forced to sacrifice to stay with it. If we help convert one person to a fan of an artist they may not have found without us that makes it all worth while. We really are lucky to have the dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate writers we do. I really can't say enough about them. But we are equally lucky to have readers like you because you get what we're trying to do and how we are a bit different than other publications because at the base level we're just passionate music fans that like to write about a subject we love. So thank you!

Now about the Day in Rock stuff, glad you like the original stories and the humor. The sarcasm is just a natural reaction to some of what goes on in rock and a reminder that even though we all really really love music we really can't take it too seriously! Plus some "artists" are walking punch lines that are just asking for it. Now on the press releases, ideally there would be more hours in the day to write 25-30 original news articles each day but it's just too much. We average about half right now and that takes hours each day to research and write and we include the press releases because they are things we think some of the readers would be interested in. We include a pretty broad range of stuff that way and I wouldn't be too quick to skip all of them, because you'll find some great under appreciated music covered in those as well. But once again thank you again for your email, it really is appreciated!

Now the negative emails. The basic premise of the emails we received from the two webmasters that engage in the ads for reviews practice was that they have no choice, if they do not do this they can not survive and our simple response is if you have to resort to this, then you do not deserve to survive. Readers count on you for an honest opinion and if you got into this simply as a way to make money without a real passion for music, then your readers need to know that so they can take that into account when deciding how much to trust your coverage. Like I said last week, if we are forced offline ourselves because we take the highroad then so be it. Earlier this week we asked our readers to boycott Disney because they have begun censoring metal concerts at venues on their properties. The next day I sent out an email to some of the PR companies we work with to explain why we would not be covering any Disney related releases while they continue this censorship. I included a few metal sites in that email and asked them to join us in that boycott. Sadly, with the exception of Talking Metal we heard nothing back from any of them and nothing appeared on their sites but when looking at a couple of those sites we may see the key to why they are not supporting the boycott, they currently carry advertising for a Disney owned record company. Censorship of metal seemed like a pretty important issue to us, so we took a stand even though we cover many genres, not just metal, but apparently censorship is fine with some metal site operators for whatever reasons. I'm not a crusader, though these past couple weeks might seem otherwise, but I also can't turn a blind eye to something I believe is wrong. Even if it costs me or the site.

The other email questioned the difference of our running multiple ads with the practice of trading coverage for ads. There is a world of difference. We would love nothing other to run one small ad like we were able to do before the dot.com bubble burst but we rely on outside ad companies to sell our ads and unfortunately these ads are sold at a pretty low rate. Due to the amount of readers we have that means that we have to run dedicated servers to meet the demand. Those do not come cheap and neither does the added bandwidth of serving a popular site. Not to mention the cost of distributing 100 or so CDs a month to writers around the world for review and other office expenses. You get the idea, so advertising is needed to cover the costs of running the sites and yes most months it doesn't even cover that but running advertising is quite a bit different than trading advertising dollars for favorable coverage. On the other hand, if you think we run a lot of ads, pick up the leading rock magazine and count how many pages of ads you have to flip through to get to their table of contents. It's pretty eye opening. Plus you pay for that magazine on top of the ads!

Finally a lot asked how they could help us out and many mentioned donations. If it comes to a point where we would need to do that we'd probably do a antiThon with an auction etc but right now the best thing you can do to help us stay online is not to send us money but to keep reading and sending us your thoughts about our coverage, whether it's a complaint or a request for more coverage of a certain artists and ALSO tell your friends that are into music about us as well. That will help us out far more than a donation can. So no need to send us money, instead spend that money on a CD you discovered here that's the best payment we can imagine.

Sorry for the length of this Mailbag but there were a lot of issues brought up in the emails this week. If you missed last week's mini rant and therefore don't know what in the hell this was all about you can read that at the link following this post. Thanks everyone and keep rockin! - Keavin Wiggins antiMusic Editor
- We Are Not For Sale

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