Back in January, Seth Fischer dropped by to point out that if you want to escape the slush pile, small press is where it's at. Self-publishing has always had the taint of untalented egotism on it - they don't call it 'vanity press' for nothing.
But as Virginia Heffernan explains in a New York Times Magazine piece from last month, the size and quantity of self-published material is now more than double that produced by traditional (big) publishing houses. And the trend strongly favors the self-publishers, with a 180%+ rise in volume produced year-over-year while the big guys are down another fraction. Vanity it may be, but it's gotten cheap enough, easy enough, and dare we hope popular enough that it can be done by anyone with something to say.
Heffernan points to CreateSpace (still one of the most popular Copyright posts for the past few years) and a couple other outfits/imprints that are trying to help people preserve, create, and disseminate their own work. I confess I was surprised to see the degree to which the industry has grown in just the past two years.
The question now is whether the self-publishing industry will be a victim of its own success. One of the things that publication from a major house gets you is at least some level of review and editing, which people take as at least a first-order measure of quality. What will become the markers for quality in self-publishing? Every social media site has some kind of populist like/rate system but how useful is that?
May 12, 2010
...even if the (current) music industry dies the death it seems so richly to deserve. So assures us Marc Weidenbaum
, publisher of the online electronic 'zine Disquiet
. Normally, Disquiet only has things to say about its musical topics, which are primarily ambient and electronic music.
However, in the May issue of The Atlantic, editor Megan McArdle took to task the current generation of "freeloaders", complaining that "...a generation of file-sharers is ruining the future of entertainment." Are we, now? Responding to the news that last year was yet another dismal year for the recording portion of the Cartel, McArdle recites figures that lament the aging of the music acts that pull in big bucks. She's apparently completely unaware of the club scene, the DJ scene, the remix scene or - frankly - anything that someone under 30 would consider modern, new, interesting music.
It's true that if your concert tickets are $200 each then you're not going to get a lot of young people at your shows. But really is that something wrong with the audience, or with your ticket price? It seems that McArdle is confusing a couple of different concepts here.
Weidenbaum points out another fundamental contradiction in the piece - the conflation of "the music industry" with "musicians." And to point out that contradiction he wrote a response and commissioned something very much like a musical (ambient) score to go along with that response. He asked ambient musicians to riff on the illustration that accompanied the Atlantic piece (which itself might have been technically a copyright violation) and then he goes to town on McArdle.
The result is a mixed media piece called "Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album" that you can read and listen to (for free) on archive.org. Ambient music is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition for me, but I really enjoyed playing the album while reading Weidenbaum's thoughtful response. I encourage you to do the same.
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