Personal opinions, rants, raves, links and info from the Editor in Chief of Austin Vida and Red River Noise.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The State of Austin Music Media Brings "Red River Noise"
I've been in Austin since I was fifteen years old. I've seen more concerts both local and touring than I care to try and count. I've been reading music magazines like Rolling Stone, Alt Press and Spin since I was in middle school. I still read those but now I throw in the mix some Paste, Under The Radar, Revolver, Source, Wax Poetics and countless others I find at news stands. Every time I have ever been in my favorite record store, Waterloo Records, I pick up every grab-and-go ad rag fold they have. I've done that for years and read them all almost in their entirety no matter how good or bad the publications are. Why? Because I love all kinds of music. I love good writing. I love interesting opinions or interviews. I love to discover new music that won't be spoon fed to me by mainstream media outlets.
Austin, the "Live Music Captial of the World", the city I love and never want to leave, has unfortunately never been the music media force it should be. I'm sure there are a lot of pieces to that puzzle, but I don't understand why. Everything and everyone comes to Austin or is here already in terms of musical talent. Austin blows every other city in the world out of the water when it comes to music festivals, local talent and live music venues. That being said, our music media situation is weak given that all that is in our back yard.
The Austin Chronicle is what it is and has always been. It is a white, liberal weekly that likes who it likes. They, nor any media, can cover everything and still make print deadlines. It is just not what it once was in the '90s, what I consider to be its prime. It was in the Chronicle where I started following Andy Langer, one of the few exceptions to my rant about Austin music media. I still enjoy reading it every week, but it doesn't have the same luster it once did for me.
Soundcheck Magazine was the one Austin based music media I thought would make it. After not being able to stay in print on a regular basis, I was glad to see they stayed online. Now I only see little leaflet sized editions that hurt them more than help them in terms of image. It is hard to take that little thing seriously. I like checking out the site, as they have great photographers and the occasional interesting review, but they are very indie heavy and only cover C3 shows. It's cool for what it is, but nothing like I once hoped for it.
I'm not even going to get into our TV situation (auto-pilot), but I will put radio on blast! I can go on for days about it. If you're under 50, you probably hate it too. KUT and KGSR are great for the gray haired and balding, maybe the open minded younger listener like myself, but not anyone else. My once favorite (and I guess it is still) rock station, 101X, is the sole reason I hate listening to my high school CD collection. The only thing that keeps me coming back is the weekend programming, which is great to be honest. No Control is the taste maker for me in terms of all things metal, more so than any of the magazines or metal blogs out there. The Next Big Thing is still the best show on Austin radio and has been since its inception. While Complete Control is not Austin based, at least 101X has the sense to air it to fill the much needed punk rock media void in this town. Don't even get me started on hip hop, samesy country stations that play Kenny Chesney (not real country by the way) or Latin music stations. They are terrible or non-existent. All this great music in this town, and we have terrible radio stations? Shame on us, Austin.
My final rant is about all the "music" blogs here. I'm talking to you bloggers, not writers, but bloggers. I have a love hate relationship with you Austin based music blogs. You keep the scene alive and thriving, but only like 1/15th of the scene. How many damn indie and party blogs do we need? I know the scene well and have been a part of it, at the very least as a fan, for a lot longer than most you have. I never see you bloggers at any punk, metal, Latin or country shows. You all talk about the same parties or shows, but I get some are worth talking about. That and the lack of effort or quality of your work tell me that you blog to escape your crappy day time life so you can get into the cool kid parties or shows for free at night. You're not fooling anyone, especially not me. Props to The Peen Scene for at least doing the whole party blog thing right. Kudos for the dedication and service you provide us all.
Even some of the better blogs, the ones with real writers, aren't quite what I was hoping for. Austin Sound is awesome. I love what it does for the local scene but again, it's niche and I want more as a music media junkie. The Austinist is a good blog, but not music focused so I only check the music section really. The people they do have for music at least care about music and are part of the scene. Austin Music + Entertainment (Austin ME), the once print publication is active again online after I don't know how long. What little content they had was good, but I don't have a clue as to what's going on with them. They probably are figuring it out themselves. As an editor myself, I know how that goes sometimes. Still, the sites I just mentioned are the best of the best and still not on par with national competition, mostly because they are niche.
All this being said, why is it that Brooklyn (Brooklyn Vegan), Chicago (Pitchfork, Hear Ya) and the thriving metropolis that is Rock Island, Illinois (Daytrotter) have more internationally known blogs than Austin? That's absurd to me! Believe me this is the short list. So in response to this anger, I brought my writer (not blogger) friends along with me to start our own new site. We wanted one that really reflected our diverse interests, the interests of music lovers here and everywhere, and a site with real writers. In other words, my ideal music blog, online magazine style. Something like that should come from Austin and not New York or Los Angeles but could still be appreciated by real music lovers everywhere. We did not start a niche site, nor a party blog site but rather a online magazine style blog called "Red River Noise".
All I am going to say now is that I hope you enjoy reading Red River Noise as much as we enjoy creating it. Thanks to all those along the way growing up who inspired me to take this path. Thanks to all the sub par media outlets that let me down enough to inspire me to put this together with my friends. Thanks to all the samesy indie blogs for giving the same interview the other samesy indie blogs gave that same band. Thanks to Spinner for being so popular and terrible at the same time. Thanks to Christopher Weingarten for tearing internet music media a new ass. Thanks to all who made it to the end of this post. I've been wanting to say this stuff publicly for years.
Ian is a graduate of Round Rock High School and attended St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. In 2008 he joined the team at Double Stereo (formerly CD Fuse) as their Blog editor where he reviewed concerts, albums, and did interviews for the popular music site.In January 2009, he became the Editor in Chief for Austin Vida. In 2010, with the help of some of his most talented friends, he launched Red River Noise. "Ian's Music Blog" is also one of the few blogs selected to be a Do512 All-Star.
On any given night of the week he can be found in downtown Austin on 6th Street and the Red River live music district.