A word in your shell like if you donít mind...
Well, weíre pretty much at the end of this issue. I want to finish by trying to re-state my case, my point, where I come from on doing this. I feel like Iíve been through it all time and time again, so apologise if you read this thinking itís just me stuck on auto-repeat again.
So, some people have, shall we say, "questioned my right" to have an opinion. Iíve also had some other people criticise my attitude and what I do. Unfortunately I donít have permission to print it all. But letís just say that phrases such as "pathetic and childish.", "immature so called zine journalist", "arrogant and must have a huge ego" and who needs to " get from up himself. " have been used.
The thing pretty much all this has in common is that itís from people "within the industry." And itís how I intend this zine operates with respect to the industry that Iíd like to explain. The ONLY way this zine will operate. I SHOULDNíT have to do this, and maybe some will think Iím just being as immature as people are saying. Some may say I should just take the criticisms and get a life. Fair enough. Iíll leave the judgements to those that actually know me. But I do feel the need to say my piece at the moment. I hope this will be the last time.
Firstly, I donít consider myself a journalist. Iíve said it before and I maintain that assertion. Why? Because it strikes me as saying this, "if you have an opinion and dare to let it be known, then you are no longer a fan of music but a wannabe journalist. As such your opinion is only valid if we, the members of the industry, agree with it. If we donít we are within our right to try and shred you on it." Itís like theyíre saying, "we only respect journalists as long as they say what we want." Well Iím sorry, but isnít that just totally unacceptable? If you court any kind of publicity, then you have to allow people to say what they really think. Good or bad. If you donít like that, then donít court any publicity. Itís all very well people complaining when theyíre in the position to decide who they talk to but isnít that hypocritical? But how far would any of them have got if they donít have people air their opinions one way or the other in the first place? I mean, did you read that Fred Durst outburst in Kerrang! where he wouldnít talk to them. Now look, I donít like the magazine much myself, but they have my respect for that. Funny how Mr Durst waits until successful before complaining. Some of these "rock stars" have egos too big. They then become as bad as the industry.
As a fan of a band or music, you should, you MUST be allowed to have an opinion, and to criticise if you feel it is warranted without then being conveniantly labelled "a journalist". Or a wannabee journalist. To deny that is to insult everybody that buys your bands or your labels bands records. Itís an insult to everyone that pays the money to attend a gig - not just the ticket, the cost of getting there and back, and any items of merchandise you decide to buy.
Itís like this, just because I type something, doesnít mean Iím a journalist. I mean, I can play a few chords on guitar and a little bass, but would never have the temerity to call myself a musician. Partly because Iím not looking to be one. Iím likely never going to work in the music industry unless I win the lottery and can set up a label on my terms. So, I donít have to answer to anyone. I donít have a "wannabee" career to protect or worry about. I can try and tell it as it is, and as I see it. The only way it should be. The other reason I donít like the idea of being called a journalist is because I think these days some of them think theyíre more important than they are. As if they want to be as famous of the bands. But they arenít. Theyíre not important, and I donít want to be linked with all that, because Iím not important and I know that.
Next, Iíd like to state that contrary to what some people like to think, I do know a little of how the industry works. Over the course of just over 2 years doing the zine, Iíve been told plenty of tales "off the record", made some contacts who work or have worked within the industry and have explained how things REALLY work and happen. And itís BECAUSE of this knowledge that I am perhaps more opinionated on the whole thing now and do voice my opinion, and explain what happens. I donít know everything about the industry obviously. Based on what I do know, Iím not sure I wish to understand it all. But, what I do know is this, just because itís how the industry is, DOESNíT mean that I have to agree with it. I donít. I think it stinks to high heaven. I think it should be done differently. And I really want to let people know what really happens. That is why I will state what happens as I put this together. If I think that Iím being hard done by in the way I get treated, Iíll say. Not because Iím trying to be childish, not because Iím sulking at not getting my way. I do it because I consider myself first and foremost a fan of the music, and that the way I get treated is perhaps reflective of the way the rest of the "fans" or "kids" are really thought of. I think people should be aware of it all. Iím not going to protect the industry egos or ethics. I mean, itís been quite outstanding how on a number of occassions this issue Iíve been told how "I was passed this by blah". Amazing that the industry looks after itself. Admittedly, there are perhaps one or two that are ok, but the majority? They pass on the bits which are critical, and then lambast you. I very rarely ever receive a message from a label saying "thanks for taking the time to do that interview with one of our bands." I have received thanks from some bands themselves, to which I am grateful. But rarely "the industry."
You see, my main problem is this. The industry is focussed on everything but what really matters. The music. Rather than caring about that, everyone seems engulfed in their ego, throwing their weight as to how youíre supposed to behave. Iíd love to see the fatcats, legal executives, and generally people that hold the power but donít give a damn about the central theme of music actually exposed for who and what they are. I hope with all sincerity that the Internet is able to blow the cobwebs out of the whole thing, and that the middlemen that leach are made redundant and useless. I mean, surely a band deserves to earn more than 47p from a CD release? Of course they do. They certainly deserve to earn more than the rest of the "industry" elements that take a much larger share. Surely the band should come first and foremost in all this. But no, they donít. Because the industry doesnít care. It just cares about what can make it the most money, and if that means the use of immoral tactics, then so be it. You can argue all sorts of ways and discuss all the business and legal ethics and implications that you like, but if you tell me that the band receiving such a measly sum, when others are entitled to much bigger cuts is right, well, I'm afraid I'm always going to tell you that I believe that may be the system, but it's not the best system, not the fair system.
Now, I also realise that itís all very well complaining about it, but bands do have to live with it. To make a success you do have to get in bed with the devil. I wish the bands well and hope that they are able to use it and manipulate it to further their own needs. I may have to abide by some of the industry rules myself if some ideas in the pipeline reach fruitition. In the same way I have to ask for labels to send stuff for me to review. I canít afford to buy it otherwise, so itís either nothing, or have to rely on the generosity of others loaning me stuff. Itís interesting that a number of labels havenít sent me anything in the last few months since all this stuffís been going on, even though theyíve put out releases and used to send stuff. I donít know why Iíve not received anything, but I think itís ok for me to point it out, or to say if I bought one of their bands CDs rather than have been sent it. Some have said they wish to see "more commitment" from zines, such as this one, before they will send stuff out. Looks like Iím getting nowt then, cos I cannot physically give this more commitment than I already do. I need a life outside it and work. But because you do have to play ball to an extent that doesn't mean I'll agree with it all. I will still retain my voice in it all. It may sound somewhat hypocritical, but you can either play along, whilst still trying to do things your way, or end up doing nothing.
Which finally brings me on to how this zine operates. It is NOT for the purpose of the labels or even the bands. I will NOT give a good review to anyone just because they think that they deserve it. I will only ever give my honest opinion on something. If people canít accept that, well to be honest, tough. As Iíve been told, Iím no-one. The industry survives without me. Labels donít need me. Bands donít need me. So if thatís the case (which it is), donít get so upset at my comments. I mean, theyíre worth nothing arenít they. I do my level best to be honest, to say things as I saw them, to give bands a chance, to listen to the music. And if I love something, Iíll do what I can to help. But if I donít, Iím not going to pretend. That would be immature. That would be wrong of me. This zine is to promote music, to I hope encourage people that thereís so much great and interesting music out there that is not spoonfed to you. Thatís itís purpose. Itís not meant to be an industry pleaser. Itís meant to be about music. And to be my honest opinion.
All in all itís been very trying. At the moment I am severly biting my lip and trying not to turn to name calling or dropping down purely to the use of vulgarities. Some people may not believe it, or like to believe it, but this stuff really does mean something to me. Iím doing it not to try and further myself, but purely because I love music. Name calling hurts. I wonít pretend it doesnít. Criticism hurts, but you can only ever gain anything from criticism rather than praise. Thatís why I focus on it and react to it. But having an opinion this issue has been hurtful. There have certainly been a number of times where Iíve felt like packing this whole thing in. I donít need the aggrevation that itís caused. But during those moments, Iíve listened to music and itís inspired me to carry on. Iíve also had some much appreciated messages of support from various people, for which I am grateful. And I guess I realise that if I am annoying some people, some industry people, with my opinions then maybe Iím achieving a little bit of what Iím looking for.
I would like to apologise though to those people around me recently who had to listen to some of my real feelings with respect to all this. I am biting the lip on some things I want to say. The thing is this, trust me, if these people are upset about what I've said, they'd hate some of the things I've been told and would really really like to be able to publish about the industry. But it needs someone with the courage to sit down and go on the record about it all. But if someone will do it, rest assured Iíll print it.