When something is done out of love, generally love is what is evoked from those who bare witness to this laborious act. With that said, you can just imagine my shock when the Editor here at BE told me of the response he received from a local artist while covering an event for the BET HipHop Awards. My initial shock bread a type of anger because BE has always supported this person’s career and celebrated their talant. Jokingly I suggested that we do an op-ed exposing this person’s ugliness, but as we further conversed I thought that we could use this as a teachable moment. There is a growing tension between artists and new media that must BE adressed.
Let me begin by thanking all of the artists that have made BE’s first year an incredible success. For our good experiences far outnumber any negative response, and its because of this that we have the clarity of mind to not go negative. Futhermore, it is that aforementioned love that makes us want to try to, atleast, address and rectify these tensions. Due to the growing technological age there has been a surge of new web based media and blog sites to hit the scene. The fact is that many printed publications are meeting their demise as an effect of this boom. One would think that, due to the necessity for an artist to receive “good press coverage”, that these blogs and web based ,magazines would be welcomed with open arms. For in many cases they are easier to access than big publications, and more willing to do “fluff” pieces that celebrate the artist solely. Yet, surprisingly this hasn’t been the case. Now let me BE clear, I am not assigning blame to neither artist nor media alone. The blame in this, as in many tumultuous situations, is twofold.
There are blog sites that have added to this tension by knowingly and consistantly printing gossip and misinformation. Unfortunately many do this because they know that people tend to be attracted to messy drama, which inturn does ganer them avid readership. They are relying heavily on the “any attention is good attention” method to breaking into media, and this may be true if what you want are injuntions and cease and desist orders. We have all been to their sites, and read their salacious stories, only to return to see that the story has been romoved due to court order. For as long as there is media there will be tabloid sites and shows. Which understandably would anger an artist especially if you are or have been the target of this kind of “reporting”. Yet there are good media outlets and blogs that do excellent work. Now if when I say “good media” what pops into your mind are sites that will only report when an artist has an awesome milestone in their life or career, you are wrong. The purpose of media is to report the facts at all times, not to print unsubstantiated gossip nor to stroke anyone’s ego.
That brings me to the artist aspect of this equation. I can recall a phone interview that a rather edgy radio host did of an even more edgy artist, as not to BE messy we won’t disclose their names, but the message remains the same. The interview started as often they do, with pleasantries and niceties being exchanged. That was until the artist wanted to put on blast the negative press she had been receiving via the radio show. The claws came out, and during the spat the artist said “…watch what you say about me!” and to this the hosts cleverly and appropriately responsed “well…watch what you do”. This is my message to all of the artists that are a part of our reading audience “watch what you do”, one can only print what is there, assuming that the publication in question is a repitable media source. I don’t want to make light of the rising angst that is a product of bad reporting, but you must realize that every blog or new media outlet is not the one that reported that you had an “alien baby” or “couldn’t drop an album if you were up in a helicopter”. Believe it or not we’re artists too, and demand respect of our craft. I feel that many of you have this onesided view of things, in your opinion the publication is the only one that has anything to gain, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as having you on our cover and in our publication helps us to build our base of readers, we help to give you the exposure that is pivotal to the sale of your records, books, or just to clear up the mess reported about you in lesser or equal publications. We need you just as you need us, there is no denying this.Why isn’t the relationship looked at as reciprical?
There are a few artist i.e. Nicki Minaj who I feel understand this well. I have for a long time admired what I call her “grassroots campaign” she has utilized blog sites and up and coming media to promote herself and the sale of her three mixtapes on a scale and in a way that I have never seen before. Many of you can learn a lot from her. It is one thing to thumb your nose at a media source that prints garbage on a daily basis, yet another to assume that just because a blog site or web-mag doesn’t have the name notoriety as does Essence or VIBE that you should disregard them. Online magazines like BE are knocking printed media from the racks on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is that with the way things are trending, we will BE here, the question is will you?