Hooray for Blogs!

Inspired by a link posted on Large Hearted Boy, I think it's important to praise the presence of blogs, specifically MP3 blogs, on the Internet. Here's my favorite snippet in the "10 best ways to get the most out of the next musical revolution":

1. MP3 blogs: The Internet isn't just a great place to find amateur porn and clips of fat kids acting out scenes from "The Phantom Menace." It's actually an incredible resource for discovering new music and the best sites to do that at the moment are MP3 blogs such as The Hype Machine (hype.non-standard.net) and Largehearted Boy (blog.largeheartedboy.com), which offer daily, no-nonsense links to free music available online. Meanwhile, personal blogs such as Stereogum (www.stereogum.com), Sixeyes (sixeyes.blogspot.com) and Said the Gramophone (www.saidthegramophone.com) hand out iPod-friendly tunes along with smartly written previews. For those with a couple of hours, weeks or months to kill, a staggering list of MP3 blogs is available at the Tofu Hut (tofuhut.blogspot.com).

Even though I only visit a couple of the links mentioned above, I feel it's necessary to talk about why MP3 blogs are great.

I hate to break it to you, but most of the modern songs you're hearing on regular, commercial radio and seeing on MTV and VH1 were not selected for rotation because they evoke a deep response from the listener. So much stuff goes on behind the scenes with legal forms of payola, favors, barter and other business practices that owe very little to the actual listening and responding to music. While focus groups are still used to get more specific and personal responses from listeners, there are many reasons why the music you hear on Sunday night speciality shows sounds way different than the music you hear during regular weekday programming. Yes, it's a business designed for certain audiences, but for the ones that crave a different kind of response from music are looking elsewhere.

A few years ago, peer-to-peer networks were the best way to find stuff online. I don't use peer-to-peer networks anymore- there are way too many viruses and spyware programs floating around them that I don't want to harm my computer any more than I already have. There is so much music out there: from sublime to decent to crap. Finding the sublime is hard and a worthwhile journey and MP3 blogs help navigate the way.

I give a major high-five to Frank over at Chrome Waves for introducing me to Stars. Frank posted a video for the band's "Reunion" and I became even more curious about the band. I had read some nice reviews in print, but after hearing the song a number of times over the timespan of a few months, I decided to venture out and get their Set Yourself on Fire record. I haven't regretted this decision and it's one of my favorite albums of the year.

Probably the best thing about MP3 blogs is that the songs on there are there by choice of the webmaster, not because of promotional dollars or focus groups. The blogs are way more honest with the listener because the people that run them are listeners too. I love reading about some band that Torr or Chris or Eric or Jef admires and actually hearing the music myself.

Remember earlier this year when Sufjan Stevens was on almost every major MP3 blog? Well, that wasn't by string-pulling by his record company. Many people (including myself) have been amazed by his Come On Feel the Illinoise record and have wanted to spread the word about this album. Now, Stevens has become one of the biggest draws in off-the-mainstream-radar music.

Before, the only way you could hear about non-mainstream music was through college radio, Sunday night speciality shows and talking to a record store clerk. Now, you still have those options but you also have a more direct, easier and honest way of finding this stuff. The best part is that this is all on the Internet, a terrain that can't be tamed. The people who pay for the Internet use are moving the enjoyment of music past the fences of yesterday. As much as people complain about crappy music, there are so many other reasons to champion better stuff.