Culturally Irrelevant

Jeff Taylor over at Hit & Run put up a link and some appropriate commentary about the '500 Greatest Songs of All Time' pap the people at Rolling Stone regurgitated. I took a fairly cursory look through it and realized quickly that RS has become a cultural wasteland. A long time ago, I figured RS had sold out and become corporate. The exact moment was when mandatory drug testing of employees was instituted at RS. I didn't realize they had lost it completely.

The list just proves two things about Rolling Stone. One, the critics there are indelibly wedded to the 60s as the apotheosis of great rock-n-roll. Two, they don't have a clue about anything that happened past about 1980. It must be hard to maintain your hip street cred when you're a decrepit fossil. Yet, somehow, they persevere.

Really, though, isn't Rolling Stone a relic of the distribution systems of the past? At some point, Rolling Stone served as a guide to keep you from being drowned in the fetid swamp of crappy albums that are released each year. Nobody has the time to listen to each one of the albums released each year. Somebody has to pre-screen for you, and Rolling Stone was as good (or bad) as anyone for that function. If you lived in some obscure out of the way place where you might not hear new music until two years after it was released, RS might have helped you out.

Now? Rolling Stone is painfully obsolete. Amazon and LAUNCHCast and similar services are doing a better job than RS ever could. Community ratings systems that provide feedback are doing an excellent job of disintermediating RS. I don't need to know what some pretentious writer in New York thinks of a new band. I want to know if people who share my tastes think it's worth buying. RS can't provide that to me. So once again, the internet is making a previous business model less than desirable. As far as being a source of new music, RS is just pushing the same tired crap I hear on every ClearChannel station.

Rationally speaking, why does anyone care what some person writing for RS thinks about anything? Reliance on criticism is an appeal to authority that has no real basis. I pay more attention to 4 words from J ('You would like this') than I would to 5000 words from RS. Some random schmoe has no credibility until he's established a reasonable track record, and RS hasn't had one in years.


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