• Thu, Jul 25, 2024

2024: On The Nature Of Opinion (Or The Fundamentally Broken Concept Of Objective Music Journalism)

columns Jan 12, 06:08pm

Let’s start with a much-needed discussion on why we, and you, are functioning parts of Indian indie.

Happy new year, everyone!

Let’s lay down our intentions before you choose how to react:

  • This is meant as a discussion where we present our thoughts and we’d love it if you have your own on your end.
  • This piece has nothing to do with any artist, company, publication, personality, cat, dog, or fish.
  • RSJ is an indie magazine that covers indie music. We have never been into the idea of throwing out ideas and opinions that aren’t rooted in our only core belief; “we care about Indian independent music and the scene it is made in”.
  • The thoughts below are not directed at any artist or listener. In fact, that is the point; if you do find yourself relating to anything that you read in this piece, we would ask you to try and think about why. We’re always doing the same.


Part 1: What Is The Job Of Media That Covers Indian Indie?

The most common issue with this topic is that everyone loses sight of its scope. Artists want positive reviews, the media wants whatever sells the best (because media is a business, by the way), and everyone consuming the product (which is either music or a music video) wants to be entertained or outraged as the case may be.

We cover Indian indie pretty much exclusively, and our answer to this question is a little more nuanced than one might think.

Making music as a living is a job. On average, it’s not a high-paying one; most indie musicians that haven’t hit the big time are still making art (we’ll get to the ‘art’ conversation later) as a net loss in their lives; primarily financially but also with respect to family, friends, health and so on.

So, does that mean all Indian indie music can be celebrated just because there’s toil and hardship behind lots of it? Nope, and that’s where you come in, dear listener.

We view ourselves as a platform in the literal sense; artists are introduced to you by us, and the rest of it is on you, as it should be. It’s your ear and your money. We’ll show you stuff we think you might enjoy. And we hope you would, because we work hard on that bit.


Part 2: Isn’t Most Indian Indie Music Not As ‘Good’ Compared to _____, And Aren’t Many Artists In The Scene Whining A Bit Too Much? Especially Considering The Music They Make While Being Successful?

People do enjoy creating drama out of this kind of stuff when they have nothing else to do, but we’re going to stress on one word in the title of this column: “opinion”. It’s what you think, and whether everyone else on the planet agrees with you or not, it does not change the fact that it’s yours.

If any artist gets at you (just a listener) with the “I worked really hard on this and you should understand that” argument, one could posit that the artist is fundamentally wrong. It is NOT your job to give an artist creative leeway just because they worked hard on their music; you are consuming it and you have every right to decide if you like it or not.

What might be morally debatable on our part as not artists is running around telling other people that something is objectively bad. This attitude from parts of the world’s general listening public can be a bit worrying, because it can break artists’ careers. Your feelings towards music are yours, but it’s a tad unfair to use that as a reason to try and control those of other people. Nor do we; this is literally why we do not rank things, and we don’t make objective statements about ‘good music’ or ‘bad music’.

Also, for the most part, creatives in the indie scene work 80-hour weeks; it’s hard work that often produces completely disproportionate results because at the end of the day, us fans have the final say. And we can think about whether that is right or wrong later.


Part 3: “Why Didn’t You Write About _____?”

We have human beings running our publication currently (and we always will), and sometimes, we come to the conclusion that we do not want to cover a certain song, artist or release. It’s the same kind of thought you have when you decide what to make for dinner while hosting a group of six unique individuals; or that terrifying moment when someone gives you the aux at a party and you have to play the next song.

We exist to be true to ourselves, and to cover what we’d like to. And if we are wrong by not covering something, we’ll fix that this year, and then we’ll improve next year. By the way, if you happened to play a dud at the above-described party, it’s probable that no one there will crucify you for it. Point made?


Part 4/4: Why Don’t You Negatively Review Or Call Out Musicians Who Are Just ‘Bad’?

Answering this question needs a modicum of empathy, because ‘bad’ is a rough term.

To be clear, it should be obvious that making music is NOT for everyone. Some people are just not good at it, which is a concept that exists for every field. Some try as hard as they can knowing they’re being creative just for fun, and others chase money and success. We happen to find music of all types from all types of people all the time. And here is where we’ll talk about ‘art’.

Art is obviously anything anyone wants to make creatively and of their own volition. However, as an operating society, we seem to have decided that we get to ‘judge’ art, and if we find something to be devoid of feeling or entertainment or value, we throw it away. And if we do that enough, the ‘artist’ will go find something they’re better at. Instead of ‘making art’… that’s why all listeners have tastes, and likes, and dislikes, and hot takes, and disagreements-

So, do you want to know about every musician that we currently think might be in the wrong line of work? Do you think we should highlight them and give them bad press so that they never try again? It’s not our place to write something that might cause that reaction from creative people, and we try to avoid it. Mostly because we trust that you can tell what you enjoy from what you don’t.

We don’t like ending on questions, so let’s end with a fact. We’re going to get back to writing, and we’d love it if you continued to read us and listen to the music indie India is making. A lot of it’s good.

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