Founded in the late 90s on Geocities, Free Williamsburg has been through a lot. The internet, and this whole “BLOG THING” held lots of promise, but it’s hard to compete when so many eyeballs are diverted to the slot-machine allure of social media.
A good chunk of this happened before a little old thing called social media even existed. Before Instagram, you’d go to photo sites like The Cobrasnake or Last Night’s Party, or to countless blogs like ours, to see what the cool kids were up to. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok just weren’t a thing. Today, they’re definitely a thing. And as FREE Williamsburg has turned fifteen… eighteen… twenty… we persisted (we’re stubborn) while the cultural currency that used to be defined by websites like this one shifted to social media and corporate-backed publications.
I wouldn’t say my music blog of the 2000s (Buzzgrinder) had a tenth of the pull and cool vibes that Free Williamsburg held, but we were sort of in the same zip code for awhile. Literally. I lived in Brooklyn from 2005-2010, and got to my share of shows in the area, and met up with people in Williamsburg because of my music blog thing.
A shame, too. Most all of content we talk about, link to, and share on social media is from a website. The interviews, the music videos, the big articles – they all sit on a .com somewhere, which you access via a URL.
The problem is sites like Free Williamsburg compete with a zillion other sites who are publishing 80 articles a day, and have cash on hand (or rather, funding…) to promote their posts.
Hard to cut through the noise when the noise of promoted posts and harrowing click bait articles rule the social-world, but Free Williamsburg had a spectacular run.
Sorry / not sorry for pulling a majority of recent content from my social media feed:
For the streaming apologists out there, when a music industry heavyweight like (Jimmy) Iovine says the problem with streaming is that they’re ALREADY PAYING TOO MUCH for music — maybe it’s time to admit there’s a fundamental and systemic problem with the model.
Music licensing fees ain’t gonna get cheaper, and exec salaries are just going to keep going up, so yeah… not sure how this premium buffet of all you can consume music for $10/mo is going to continue.
Re: my “sorry / not sorry” from above – my pal Sean posted that Tweet on the 7th, and it’s already lost in a sea of a jillion more tweets, pics, and videos. I’m bummed that so many thoughts and good ideas and great stuff gets lost in the ether, so posts like this are just one way I try to hold onto them.
I spend way too much time on Instagram, and I see people devote LOTS of time into IG Stories – content that disappears in 24 hours. Some of these stories are packed with useful information, and only if you happen upon it within those 24 hours will you even see it. Then it’s gone (yeah, I know these stories can be saved as Highlights, but still).
Instagram, Twitter, all of ’em – they won’t be around forever. And sure, “but no one reads blogs anymore.” No one reads your Instagram posts, either, unless you pay to promote them to your audience (that you built).
Put that shit on your own blog, your own site. When (not if) these social media sites shit the bed, you’ll still have a place for your audience to find you.
I wrote 73 posts here on this blog in 2019, which is 73 times I didn’t publish something on social media. The 73 posts are here for whenever you find them, on your own time. They don’t compete with “influencers” or “trolls,” this is my space, where it’s just all me, with zero distractions, or notifications.
Today it feels like we’ll never go back to the way it was, when people read blogs. But I think we will. I don’t think the ever quickening pace of media publishing and consumption is sustainable. Heck, I remember in 2009 publishing 20+ times a day at AOL Music, because that was 20+ times a day we got to post to social media.
“HEY LOOK! SOMETHING NEW!”
But now, a decade later, it’s not just one site publishing 20 times a day, it’s 3,000 people on social media posting 20 times an hour – opinions on movies and music and politics and lunch spots and workouts.
Everyone is a Kardasian now. Animals have their own social media accounts.
That’s why I think it can return to the slow and steady blog world, when we realize we don’t need to consume 1000s of bits of content every day to feel full. Open up our bookmarks, or type a URL into the address bar, read a few sites and then go read a book, knit a sweater, or maybe cook a good meal.
Did you know there’s a whole underground pirate radio network that’s delivered via… conference call?
The shows weren’t the traditional kinds you’d find by tuning to an AM or FM band; they were operated independently from media companies by ordinary Hmong citizens, aired live all-day, every day and were free to call into for as long as you’d like. They used free conference call software to do it, a network that is still in place to this day.
Four years ago, I started telling music industry friends and acquaintances that they should create high-end podcasts built around their artists/albums/labels. At the time, I got two main responses: “So you’re saying we should get our bands on Maron? Do you know him? Can you get us on there?” or “Oh yeah, (insert musician here) is really funny. I’ll have them talk to their buddies.”
I worked with Sean on my music blog from 2005-2008, where he was bascially my right hand man, and helped me really build and expand.
Then when I started Noise Creep at AOL Music, I was able to hire him as my deputy editor, which was both awesome and crazy at the same time (20+ posts a day was nuts).
But Sean went onto to work big time in radio and won a freaking Peabody award. He recently made the the Striped podcast, which is all about the White Stripes.
The thing is, there is so much more to be done with music using the medium of podcasting. Super glad Sean is one of the people leading the charge.
I miss the tiny updates from friends of course, because I’m not refreshing Twitter as much as I have in the past, but it’s why I’ve been saving my own tiny updates and forming them into blog posts here.
Instead of reaching for Twitter whenever I have a quick idea, I’ll throw it into WordPress, which then give me more space to stretch my legs. Before I know it, I’ve written a paragraph or two, and now that quick update has become something bigger.
Maybe not better, but it’s bigger. A little more heft. And maybe somebody gets something from that, or maybe I look back at it two years from now and wonder what the heck I was thinking.
I just know that two years from now I’m probably not going to remember that quick update on Twitter, and will definitely not ever find it, really.
Hard to believe that Bandcamp has only been around since 2008. That’s when I launched Noisecreep for AOL Music.
In this episode of All Songs Considered, CEO and co-founder Ethan Diamond says that when an artist succeeds on Bandcamp, Bandcamp succeeds. That philosophy has driven the company since 2008, with over $425 million paid directly to musicians and record labels.