The obligatory blog entry about blogging

Today I attended two panels on blogging; one with the Music Critics Association of North America and the other with NPAC. Plus another panel on "Fun with Music Critics" which touched on the replacement of music critics with bloggers. It was nice to hear so many perceptive perspectives on blogging. And I learned quite a bit in terms of statistics and business models from Doug McLennan of (which you're currently reading).

But I'm kind of over the whole discussion when it comes to newspapers. I mean, OK, so the newspaper model is decreasing in importance as sites like and blogs replace demand for printed publications. What next? There was life before newspapers as the primary form of mass communication. There will be life after it.

I would rather discuss these questions:

1. What forms of media can we use and what business models can we create in order to communicate intelligently and effectively about art in our communities?

2. What jobs can we generate for those arts critics currently losing their jobs? Or, what can a person with a background in musicology, a clear writing voice, and a sharp ear do with their time in order to make a living?

posted by Sarah Baird.

June 13, 2008 4:30 AM | | Comments (4)


I'm one of the MCANA members who writes as a freelancer for various publications and has a blog (called Northwest Reverb). I agree with Sarah's commentary. It should be noted that some of the critics who have been given a blog within that paper's web site are not allowed to have a competing blog anywhere else on the web. However, newspapers could easily accommodate other bloggers as strings/sub-bloggers and help to establish a community of bloggers. The newspapers could set up the free tickets and pay some minimal fee to these critic-bloggers, and they would help to reestablish that paper as the focal point of arts news for that city. I mentioned this idea to the newspaper critics and they thought that it was a good one - but one that no newspaper would embrace. So, there. Everything stops cold - at least with the current newspaper business model.


Much thanks for the overview of the blogging sessions!!

Hi Doug,

Here are some notes (poetry) on the blogging sessions.

The Music Critics Association panel was geared toward critics, obviously, some who have vibrant blogs and others who are bewildered by the concept of the internet. From this I learned that there are over 300,000 arts blogs currently in existence and that a site called technoratti monitors this stuff. I also learned that newspaper readership has actually increased but that readers have flocked online, leaving the physical paper behind. Critics were strongly encouraged to create their own blogs for personal branding -- whether they are free-lancers who need a localized site to use as a spine or whether they are to blog for their current employer/newspaper. Then there was some nuts and bolts discussion on how to set up a blog.

The NPAC panel addressed issues of responsibility and conflict in blogging. Bloggers from various disciplines discussed the etiquette and trends that have evolved. For example, frequency of posting (setting up expectations for your readers and remaining consistent). Walking the line between offering a candid, insider's view and respecting the privacy of your colleagues. If it's a group blog, whether or not to have a moderator who keeps the talk back on track (or, if it's a personal blog, whether or not to approve comments for posting).

The "Fun with Critics" NPAC panel turned to blogging insomuch as some panelists believed that blogs will replace newspaper critics in 3-5 years. My opinions were in line with those of Marc Shulgold of the Rocky Mountain News, who said that art/music continues to thrive and always will. And he believes that as long as art continues to thrive there will be a demand and wealth of discourse. He was less concerned with the medium than the flourishing arts world. Still, though, the conversation wallowed in "arts coverage is decreasing. All we can do is wait and see what happens to all of us."

And that's when I lost patience. Why so passive? Why so fixated on the current business models and the plot of land you've inherited? Why do we act as if the music industry happens TO us? Why do we think the only solution is to wait and see what happens? Are we not the very people who currently constitute the music business? Are we not the decision makers, the rain makers, and the taste makers? THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. THINK CREATIVELY. IF THE OUTLET FOR YOUR WORK IS COLLAPSING THEN CREATE A NEW OUTLET.


All right. I'm finished now. I hope that helps you feel like you were here. :)


I couldn't make it to conference. I'm very interested in focus of blogging sessions.

Are you saying too much time was devoted to decline of newspapers? What other topics and opinions were shared?

Were new/emerging business models were shared for how artists and arts organization can use social media and the Internet in general? What recommendations were made?


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About this blog From April 1 through June 9, 2008, weekly entries were posted here by some of the performing arts community's top bloggers. This 10-week intensive series served as a unique forum for digital debate and brainstorming, and both the entries and comments were archived for use at the live NPAC sessions in June.  Participants:

Jaime Green - Surplus
Nico Muhly
Kristin Sloan - The Winger
Jason Grote
Jeffrey Kahane
Eva Yaa Asantewaa - InfiniteBody
Greg Sandow
Hilary Hahn
Tim Mangan, Paul Hodgins, Richard Chang - The Arts Blog
Andrew Taylor -
The Artful Manager

During the convention, June 10 through June 14, 2008, a
ttendees from across art forms and job functions reported on their conference experiences. Participants:

Amanda Ameer
- web manager, NPAC
Sarah Baird - media and public relations executive, Boosey & Hawkes
Joseph Clifford - outreach and education manager, Dartmouth College Hopkins Center for the Arts
Lawrence Edelson - producing artistic director, American Lyric Theater
James Egelhofer - artist manager, IMG Artists
Jaime Green - literary associate, MCC Theatre
James Holt - composer; membership and marketing associate, League of American Orchestras
Michelle Mierz - executive director, LA Contemporary Dance Company
Mark Pemberton - director, Association of British Orchestras
Mister MOJO - star, MOJO & The Bayou Gypsies
Sydney Skybetter - artistic director, Skybetter and Associates
Mark Valdez - national coordinator, The Network of Ensemble Theaters
Amy Vashaw - audience & program development director, Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State
Scott Walters - professor, University of North Carolina at Asheville
Zack Winokur - student, The Juilliard School
Megan Young - artistic services manager, OPERA America

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the independent contributors and participants, not the National Performing Arts Convention or the organizations they represent.

NPAC - the National Performing Arts Convention - took place in Denver, Colorado on June 10-14, 2008. "Taking Action Together," NPAC sought to lay the foundation for future cross-disciplinary collaborations, cooperative programs and effective advocacy. Formed by 30 distinct performing arts service organizations demonstrating a new maturity and uniting as one a sector, the convention was dedicated to enriching national life and strengthening performing arts communities across the country. 

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