Artists and the Arts have far more than "a relationship" with the media. They are dependent upon the media. From the days when plays and musicals, concerts and recitals, lived and died in newspaper reviews; through the era when radio airplay drove record sales; to the arrival of MTV and its country clones; to the myriad aspects of digital distribution, today's media in all its forms continues to be essential.
Through the pandemic when live performances on the web were what kept artists in front of audiences, paradigms shifted in the ways used to do that. Yet we still look to "Rolling Stone," to "Paste," to "No Depression" and "Sing Out," to "FolkWorks" and the Guide, and we still listen to "Folkscene" and "Folk Alley" for news of who is touring or in the studio and what new music can be heard.
Of course we are, to this point, talking about niche publications and broadcasts. But, big or small, we need to view these in the context of the whole.
Corporatization is seizing control of everything. Hedge funds and bored billionaires own newspapers. Diversified corporations buy networks to gain megaphone, technical expertise, and ultimately total control of how their message is delivered and their image portrayed.
Digital platforms, like this one used by the Guide, have their publishing protocols changed by web megagiants (in our case, hegemonistic Google) so they can maximize profitability for their board rooms while limiting the amount of content that can be seen by readers in any one edition. For them, more traffic back to the site equals more profit for the platform owners -- even though the content provider cannot make daily posts because we all need to make a living doing something else.
Through it all, Artists pay fees to be included in digital music services that often provide no revenue stream in return. Yet rejecting "the chance to be heard there" drives most artists to submit their credit card number and be obligated for monthly fees.
Meanwhile, the nature of "The Media" is being reinvented right before our eyes. Digital streaming services pay millions for new video series content that had always been the purview of the broadcast and cable networks.
Even news channels join the broadcast networks to move ,more and more, away from reporting events, and to instead engage in shameless promotion of the larger corporation's other divisions -- and lobbying "needs" for legislation in their interests.
Because everything is connected to everything else, and new trends are changing everything in ways that are alarming and risk the fundamental credibility of things you accept as news -- and rely on as looking out for your best interests -- we are devoting this edition to a look at the state of the media.
Let's get started.