Monday, February 21, 2011

Break Time?

Having a music blog in Austin, even one that practically no one reads, isn't entirely worthless. I've made a lot of good friends in bands and I'm glad of it. But I dedicated all of my time to this project for a full year and the results were not pretty... no job and a trip to the mental hospital.

After my eventful January, I didn't want to give blogging up entirely. I figured I'd keep doing show picks just to have a reason for people to keep sending me CD's in the mail. After a few half-hearted weeks, I don't see much point in recommending shows any more. The listings are easy to find for anyone who cares. Hardworking bands get the message out, one way or another. Most importantly, writing is making me totally miserable and lonely and that was never the point. Since I was 11 or so I always figured I ought to write about music, since I was a better writer than anybody I knew and I loved music more than anything else. But that's not how it works... to succeed as a music writer nowadays I would have to dedicate myself to locating opinions about music that means nothing to me. So before I go completely off the deep end, I'm quitting while I still have these relative shreds left of my dignity.

I'll still pass on show announcements on Twitter and Facebook. But no more Big Western Flavor. The last time I considered stopping, I wrote that the blog had "served its function." I meant that I had learned all I could from it and I wasn't going to make myself any happier in persisting. I may have been right the first time. You can't make inroads into the entertainment business merely by smashing your head against the wall until it falls. That goes for bands as well as writers.


  1. That's too bad. Despite disagreeing with many of your opinions, I actually enjoy your writing style and find your brutal honesty quite refreshing and amusing.

    You've definitely discovered that in a small and well-connected community such as the Austin music scene (or most local music scenes), bashing bands, even those that deserve it, will quickly win you a number of detractors. At the same time, I haven't found any other blog that pays nearly as much attention to "nobody" bands. It's only natural and predictable statistics that a majority of these will receive a bad review.

    I've seen you say a few times that you hope your reviews help bands identify how they should grow. However, as you've touched upon before, in this day and age of instant gratification, a bad review can also easily turn off potential fans from ever seeing and experiencing a band for themselves.

    I think that your rather scathing reviews could be improved upon with a system that could track repeated reviews over a period of time, and therefore show a band's improvement. There are several reviews in which you've stated that a band has been playing better, or that you've changed your mind about a band. Instead of being presented with a matter-of-fact, this-is-the-final-word bad review of their show, I think bands and the general community will be more receptive if the blog showed an honest interest in tracking a band's development from bad to good and not just focusing on bashing the bad (as amusing as I find those reviews to be). This way, you're viewed as a contributor to the scene rather than a passive observer.

    The actual implementation of this could have a summary page for each band you review, a list of recently reviewed shows, and a list of areas for improvement. A statement of intent on each page would be helpful as well. However, I think the actual functionality of this goes beyond the typical free blog services; you may need to build it yourself or enlist someone else to help do so.

    Your thoughts?

  2. I think what I have always thought -- Austin needs a professional LOCAL music writer, indeed several. Doing the sort of intensive organization and tracking-and-following you speak of is far beyond the means of a single person.

  3. sad to see you go. really enjoyed your talking about bands no one else would talk about. best of luck on your next endeavour.

  4. i've never seen a music blog writer put themselves into the writing as much as you do. the blog is completely about you. if you could make yourself interesting you would really have something here.

  5. I don't think we've seen the last of Big Western Flavor. Any legitimate music industry needs "real" writing like this. We will see it again when the time is right.