12 years ago, my best friend Dominic in New York City met the moderator of the then small, countercultural music blog BrooklynVegan at a concert. They talked music, continued to run into each other at shows, and became friends. Soon Dominic was a regular contributor on the blog. This turned into him filling in for the DJ sometimes, once the blog got its own radio show on SiriusXM satellite radio. Now, he runs that show.
While it’s a side gig for him, and he also has two other shows on different satellite stations, this one is close to the heart, and uniquely linked to this now popular, near-authority (think pitchfork) blog. The blog chronicles bands, mostly indie, who are from New York, passing through New York, reuniting, breaking up, you name it. The blog has also become pretty famous for its hilarious comments threads. (Nothing is funnier than music nerds arguing or giving their very important 2 cents.) As for the site, the only suggested algorithm are related posts based on tags, usually a band’s or venue’s name.
“Stopping with understanding audience preferences, and then catering to those, is treating choice as an end rather than a means. But choosing to reflect and act on both what the audience wants and does not want, understanding why and assessing whether the latter is something the audience needs, is considering choice as means to a more worthy end.” (Tandoc and Thomas, 253)
What I find interesting is that my best friend is involved in this cross-medium phenomenon that is both influential and carefully curated, but one side is more grassroots and the other is a part of a huge corporate entity which is fueled by paying subscribers. So, while Dominic can pepper in some personal favorites here and there, he has to model his show based on the blog. He tells me that his fellow DJs who run all sorts of genre channels often look to his show for what’s “cool”, and often try it out on more commercial stations. However, at the end of the day, they are looking at analytics indeed since they don’t want to lose subscribers. If certain things aren’t “testing well”, the program manager ends up canning it, whereas on regular radio, you can manipulate and impose your taste, which is what most indie record store workers and music nerds set out to do. That’s the peculiar irony since that particular blog radio is considered the authority on what’s “cool”.
Tandoc, Edson C., and Ryan J. Thomas. “The Ethics of Web Analytics.” Digital Journalism 3.2 (2015): 243– 258. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web.