The Last Word

Over the last few days I’ve been writing a lot about the classical music industry. It’s where my thinking has been focussed – thoughts about how we write about it, how we talk about, and the behaviour of the biggest influencers within the sector.

One post sparked (what I now see as) a bit of Twitter spat. I wrote about that yesterday.

Traffic to that blog post alone nearly broke my webserver. In addition, quite a few people got in touch with what amounted to a modest pat on the back.

I was a bit taken aback at first, but when in the afternoon I talked to an associate of mine from many years ago and realised that we both coincidentally shared the same view regarding our frustrations with the world we love, I wondered whether I was onto something.

After the second glass of Merlot we shouted ‘revolution’ to one another punching the air with a fist. An odd sight in Waterstones Piccadilly’s top floor café. We left soon after.

But later the same evening I did of my own bidding – I mean I really could have just ignored it – get embroiled myself in an exchange with a trusted journo on Facebook. I was responding to what appeared on the surface to be unconditional support for bloggers, their work, and the outdated views the past few days have highlighted.

It was a nuanced point I was making, but it went basically like this: to underline support for blogging as a medium – to attempt to destroy the amateur vs. professional argument – by pointing to bloggers who are or have been established journalists seemed to miss the point. It seemed to overlook the work done by hard-working, passionate individuals (I’m not the only one by the way), who use a portfolio career to make it possible for them to create free content about the subject love. Some do it well. Others less so.

It was as though there was a sub-group of bloggers being heralded in this post – those who were professional anyway. And one of those celebrated was on the ‘journalists’ who’s renowned for publishing unsubstantiated claims, clickbait, and generally moans about the world he professes to advocate. The BBC often invites him on air. One wonders whether they actually do their research.

And there was something else that riled. In a post that sought to celebrate the works of bloggers, the initial ‘commentaries’ the individual referred to weren’t explicitly referenced. I first thought that it was the Twitter exchange between me Jeremy Pound and Cross-Eyed Pianist Fran Wilson which was the ‘commentary’ obscurely being referred to. My thought was that if you’re going to refer to ‘commentaries’ then name them explicitly – give bloggers the credit for their part in the conversation.

When pushed (on the basis that I figured it was better to be clear about who exactly the exchange was between) it later transpired that it was a blog post by Fran Wilson on the same subject published to which the journo was referring. But even that hadn’t been originally referenced. All seemed odd.

Let me take a deep breath.

Right. That’s better.

In a highly-charged mood, I ended up disconnecting from the journo who had made this odd concession to bloggers. My thinking was this was the second ‘traditional’ journo in a week whose view showed signs of being intransigent (despite initial appearances which might suggest the contrary).

I felt let down – the sheen had rubbed off from the picture frame. It was better in my mind that I didn’t see posts where industry professionals coalesce around views which essentially perpetuate the problems the industry faces at the moment.

It was also an important step in distancing myself from the very views which had stoked my passions. Sure, it’s useful for one maybe two blog posts, but when you’re pacing your newly-decorated living room at one o’clock in the morning because you’re trying to find the right words to get the revolution on its knees, then triage needs to be deployed and someone needs to go to bed.

So I wake up this morning and think this.

Like the UK Eurovision music consultant whispered in my ear on the way to Vienna’s contest in 2015, this challenge ahead is a marathon not a sprint. The reality is that I’m not entirely sure where the finish line is. Being first isn’t important. I’d just like to make sure we all get to the same finish line.

Being annoyed by others who haven’t done their research, don’t have a sharp eye, and who despite their best intentions desperately cling onto and unwittingly propagate an outdated view, well … nothing is going to be achieved by being annoyed because of them or with them. I cannot change their views and, I’m not sure that’s the best place for my energies.

I may have said yesterday I’m going to press-on regardless. Today I really mean it. Because there are so many other things to write about before the end of this year. Time is running out.

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