This is the first in a new series at Createquity. Ever since my first post over a year ago, I’ve slowly been building that list of links over there on the right (for those of you reading this on the web), and I continue to add new sites every few weeks. These are all blogs that I read regularly, and they are all great in their own way. I recognize that it’s hard to know from a title or a quick visit whether a blog is for you, so here is my idea: over the next month or two, I’m going to give you a little introduction to each one and let you decide whether it deserves a spot in your RSS reader or on your bookmark list.
We’ll start with a small circle of blogs that I was aware of back before I started my business school journey. As you’d expect, they’re heavily music-focused, even though some of them do explore issues related to arts management.
Since debuting it on ArtsJournal (see below) several years ago, Drew McManus, LLC has turned his orchestra management blog into a veritable media industry of its own. Drew is nothing if not an entrepreneur, and has established a number of annual traditions on Adaptistration that are now widely read throughout the industry (such as Take a Friend to the Orchestra Month and his orchestra website reviews). His love for the run-on sentence and occasional grandstanding on labor issues drive me a little crazy at times, but his mad graphics skills almost make up for it.
The original and the still the best. Former Seattle Post-Intelligencer arts columnist Doug McLennan is the brains behind ArtsJournal, a gigantic news aggregator and blog platform for “arts, culture, and ideas” that’s been around since last century, if you can believe that. ArtsJournal’s news stories are categorized into arts various disciplines as well as “issues,” “ideas,” and “people.” The site is set up so that you can read particular channels or just subscribe to all of them via RSS. (I recommend the latter, despite the enormous volume–it’s essential reading.) ArtsJournal also hosts a number of important blogs by individual contributors, several of which are linked here separately. There are even occasional multi-participant “conversations” in blog form on particular topics of interest, sort of like weeklong panel discussions; there was one just a couple of weeks ago on arts education, for example. (I do wish these were easier to find; I often don’t realize they exist in the first place until after they are over and I had to do a Google search to find the link for the arts ed conversation.)
Darcy James Argue
I like to call Darcy my “blog shrink” because I consulted extensively with him before coming out with my first post. With his in-depth concert reviews, photo archives, and insightful commentary, Darcy became daily reading for a whole lot of folks in the New York jazz and new music scene within a shockingly short time of his arrival in the city back in 2005. It’s paid dividends for him, as he can now boast of a review in the New York Times, a commission from the Cologne Jazz Festival, and his just-recorded first album coming out on New Amsterdam Records next year. Of course, I’m sure it didn’t hurt that his music rocks too.
NewMusicBox is not a “blog” so much as a “web magazine” (their term), but I include it because it’s a proud service of the American Music Center, where I used to spend my days once upon a time. NewMusicBox unveils a multimedia interview with an American composer each month, additional spotlight interviews that are buttressed by programs on the web-based Counterstream Radio, and other regular features like helpful advice on the composer’s craft, a round-up of press releases, and opinion pieces from various contributors. It’s the only publication of its kind focusing exclusively on new music by American composers, so check it out and give them some love.
Night After Night
A creation of prolific New York Times critic and Time Out New York editor Steve Smith, Night After Night offers both full-length and abbreviated reviews of musical happenings in New York. While the astonishing torrent of content that characterized the blog’s initial months has slowed a little bit as Steve’s day jobs have become more demanding (it’s the same amount of writing, but more of it is on dead trees now), it’s still well worth checking out. Steve is an excellent writer and one of the best at seeking out new faces and keeping his finger on the pulse of the scene.
The next two blogs, both hosted by ArtsJournal, are the online homes of two of the most important new music critics on the national scene in the late 20th century, Kyle Gann and Greg Sandow. Kyle, for his part, is now an academic at Bard College and spends most of his time on teaching, musicology, and (happily for him) composing. Postclassic (reflecting his chosen term to replace the universally despised “new music” label) features a mix of breathtakingly in-depth analysis of music by composers both mainstream and obscure, political commentary, rants about his critics, and intelligent thoughts about a variety of other musical subjects. It can seem a bit dense at times, especially when he goes into one of his close exegeses of Cage or Nancarrow, but Kyle has a facility with the written word that is unmatched among his peers.
Greg Sandow used to write for the Wall Street Journal and other publications, but like Gann, he’s now primarily moved on to other things; most notably, he seems to have a thriving career as an orchestra consultant and teaches a couple of classes at Juilliard. Greg has a few themes that he hits regularly on his blog: the age of the audience for classical music (by this he usually means orchestra audiences, or other major cultural institutions like opera houses) is growing; people are buying fewer subscriptions, and more single tickets; that, as a result of these factors, classical music is in big trouble; and that this is the fault of the art form itself for not making more of an effort to be relevant to contemporary lives and younger generations. He argues that a relaxed dress code, a more casual atmosphere, more improvisation and emotional engagement on the part of performers, respect for more recent genre developments, and different venues for experiencing the music would all contribute to a more vibrant perch for classical music in contemporary culture.
Jerry Bowles is the founder of one of the foremost online communities for contemporary music. In some ways, Sequenza21 is where I got my start as a blogger. I penned a few pieces for the Composer’s Forum, used to be an active participant in site comments, and even wrote a couple of CD reviews. It’s still a great source for news about composers and ensembles, and the comment threads are probably the liveliest of any new music site on the web. More recently, Sequenza21 has begun organizing live concerts featuring the music of the composers who write for the site; I was honored to participate in the first of these in New York City in 2006.
While we’re on the nostalgia trip, the Fredösphere is really the first blog that ever gave me the time of day. Fred Himebaugh found me (and my website) through the ChoralTalk message board and posted some complimentary things about my work. Not too long afterwards, Fred published this essay on new music in my college days as a guest post. Fred somehow comes up with a dizzying array of hilarious links to go along with his musical commentary. He also suffers from a bizarre love of Ayn Rand, but I guess nobody’s perfect.
The Rest Is Noise
Now the title of an award-winning bestseller by MacArthur “Genius”Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise was part of the first wave of music blogs on the scene in 2003-04 and remains one of the most widely read today. (This all the more impressive given that there is no comment function, which means that the only thing drawing people back is Alex himself.) Alex saves his most impressive efforts for his day job as music critic for the New Yorker, but The Rest is Noise is still a great source for music news, CD reviews, and cool photos. The list of links is very extensive as well.