Click to download: The blogs bite back

Music bloggers looked to have fallen from favour – but don't write them off just yet

Last week, the US research ­organisation Pew Internet published an extensive survey that appeared to sound a death knell for blogging. It found that where, in 2006, 28% of teens described themselves as bloggers, that number has now tumbled to 14%. As the technology writer Nicholas Carr wryly concluded on his blog (roughtype.com), the survey "put a big fat exclamation point on what a lot of us have come to realise recently: blogging is now the uncoolest thing you can do on the internet".

So, where does that leave music blogs? Certainly, the mid-noughties excitement around MP3 blogging has calmed considerably. New music blogs pop up less frequently and many of the existing ones have stopped posting. In January 2008, we ran a Click to Download special, highlighting 20 great music websites, including 13 MP3 blogs (bit.ly/CTD20). Of those, five are now defunct, their authors having apparently run short of inspiration, inclination or time.

Social networks have played a part in the shift away from music blogging: where web users would previously trawl for the best commentary on a subject, now many sit on Twitter or Facebook and wait for punchy opinions to arrive. The fact that so much music is readily available via streaming services has probably had an impact, too. By way of illustration, last weekend saw the death of modern jazz pioneer Sir John Dankworth. A few years ago, a search of the MP3 blog aggregator Hype ­Machine (hypem.com) would surely have ­unearthed several MP3 blogs paying lengthy tribute to Dankworth, alongside examples of his music. Now, it yields nothing. But there are scores of short tributes on Twitter and you can hear several hours of Dankworth's recordings for free on Spotify.

That said, eight of the MP3 blogs from our 2008 special are thriving, with terrific sites like the dance-centric Discobelle.net and hip-hop specialist CocaineBlunts.com having flourished far beyond the old remit of one bedroom enthusiast posting a song and some thoughts. And music blogs do still have the combined power to create an overnight sensation. On 1 February, blog site boingboing.net posted two videos by unknown Afrikaans rave-rap trio Die Antwoord. Many MP3 blogs quickly ­followed suit. Within days, the band's website (dieantwoord.com) had received 3m hits and they'd been offered a major label deal.

Ultimately, the internet has always tended towards the survival of the fittest (remember any of eBay's early rivals?) and that seems to be true with music blogs. Rather than hundreds of MP3 blogs posting to a tiny audience on the same subject or genre, a few dozen of the very best have prospered. The music blogosphere is certainly ­changing. But any reports of its death are, as yet, exaggerated.

Contributor

Chris Salmon

The GuardianTramp

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