STATE OF THE BLOGGING NATION

I’ve been reflecting recently on the fact that the golden age of music blogs has long gone.  I’ve probably been quite lucky to have been around when the industry regarded them as being a significant player in promoting musicians, particularly those who were emerging and on the cusp of a breakthrough.   There seemed to be hundreds of new blogs being every month, many of them being far more enjoyable, informative and entertaining than most of the established music papers and magazines.

I got things going on 30 September 2006, with The Vinyl Villain being hosted on Blogger until 24 July 2013 when it was torn down by Google for too many violations of the terms and conditions (i.e – the big labels didn’t like that I posted mp3s).  Later that day, I launched The New Vinyl Villain on WordPress and have done my best to ensure, with the help of many guest contributors, to post something at least once a day.

As time moved on, a real sense of community began to develop around TVV, which most came to the fore back in 2010 and 2011 when I lost, in fairly quick succession, a young brother and my best friend.  Other bloggers, and in particular Ctel (aka Acid Ted), stepped in to keep things ticking over while I took short breaks, and the various postings and comments offered up proved to be a huge help in getting me through tough times.

There was also the instance when we came up with the idea of Paul Haig Day, inspired by the fact that the singer and his management were appalled that postings and songs were being taken down by Blogger and being offered the opportunity to post some new and previously unreleased material.  From recollection, some 50+ bloggers all joined in on a given day and devoted their sites to a piece of music in which Paul Haig had been involved, to my great surprise and delight.

Things have been changing a great deal in recent years for all sorts of reasons, one of which being that blogging has been surpassed by other forms of social media and on-line content. There’s also the fact that the personal circumstances of individual bloggers have changed in many instances, with the increased demands from family and/or work circumstances meaning the required time is no longer there to devote to hobbies. Others have, understandably, got a bit tired and bored with things and chose to just give up the ghost, albeit they remain very active across other social media outlets or indeed as regular commentators across those music blogs still on the go.  I know of at least one blogger who decided that it was too much work to post on a regular basis and has kept his sanity by reducing the posts to one per week….although to give credit to Craig (Plain or Pan), he did get busy writing his first ever book with the possibility of a follow-up coming soon.

It is also the case that a number of bloggers have, sadly, succumbed to illness and have passed away over the years.  In many instances, their efforts can still be enjoyed as the blogs can still be accessed, but in other situations the consequential lack of activity has seen the on-line hosts remove the entire body of work.

It was as recently as 2017 that a number of us got together in Glasgow over a memorable weekend to celebrate and commemorate all that is wonderful about music blogs and to cement what had, for the most part, been on-line friendships.  Dirk (Sexy Loser) and Walter (A Few Good Times In My Life) came over from Germany. Adam (Bagging Area) drove up from Manchester.  Brian (Linear Tracking Lives) did the unthinkable and flew over from Seattle.  A number of others sent their best wishes, saddened by the fact that personal circumstances made it impossible to be there over that particular weekend.  The Scottish contingent was represented by yours truly, along with CC aka Stevie (Charity Chic Music) and Drew (Across The Kitchen Table) Colin, Aldo and Carlo, three friends who have been regular contributors to TVV over the years. Indeed, Colin was a former blogger, the individual more than any other who had been instrumental in helping me get TVV started.

Of the seven active bloggers who got together just over four years ago, three are no longer posting on their own sites, while a fourth has gone on the record a few weeks ago as saying he had given serious thoughts to packing it in.  Over the years I’ve come very close to wrapping it up, but always pulled back in by the fact that so many folk offer up such amazing and fascinating guest contributions that I feel compelled to keep going.

Music blogs require time, energy and resources, both in terms of those who write things up and those who read them.  It’s never a quick fix with just a handful of words, phrases and clichés.   The number of people who will permit themselves the indulgence of being involved in a blog, whether as a producer or consumer, has dropped dramatically in recent years. My stats show that the number of visitors to TVV peaked in 2016.  The figures for 2021 were the lowest in a full year in more than a decade.

But do you know something?  I really don’t care.  It never has been about the number of hits or the amount of feedback through the comments section or via e-mails, albeit it is nice to know, occasionally, that you have some sort of receptive audience out there.  It really is very much about that sense of community I referred to earlier, one that I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of it for so many years and which shows no sense whatsoever of dissipating.

To be fair, I might be slightly exaggerating the demise of music blogs. Folk such as Rol (My Top Ten), The Swede (Unthought of, Though, Somehow), Echorich (The Never Ending Search For The Perfect Beat) and Mike (Manic Pop Thrills) still continue to delight after many years, while a number of folk have started things up in recent years, such as Khayem (Dubhed), and of course SWC who is entertaining us in his unique and whimsical way at No Badger Required.

I know that not every bit of writing and every song featured on TVV will find favour with everyone, and that’s as it should be.  I think I’ve got a fairly eclectic taste in music which I try and reflect here on a daily basis, but I fully accept there are some singers/groups for whom I have a real love that leave some, and often many, of you shaking your heads in disbelief.  Equally, there are loads of singers/groups who aren’t featured because I have no fondness for them, but I hope such gaps can be covered by guest contributions….none of which will ever be turned down, although there may be instances where there is a delay from the date of submission to it being published…..especially if it’s an ICA as I limit those lengthy posts to one per week.

I know I’ve rambled a fair bit today, veering all over the place.  I’m not even sure of what I set out to achieve when I started typing things up, except to offer up a sort of general love letter to everyone who gives freely of their time to support TVV and indeed all the other fantastic and wonderful music blogs out there.  It is almost certain that the number of sites of this nature will diminish in the weeks and months ahead of us.  Some writers will be able to let everyone know in advance of their plans to bring things to a halt, while others will simply just make a snap decision to give it up, not returning to their blogs to close things off.

Me?  I’m going to keep things going just now.  I’ve just renewed my fees for the domain name for another year, and sorted out payment to box to ensure the music files can be hosted and downloaded should any of you wish.

But there will come a time when I will think that I’ve said all I really want to say.  Part of me thinks I should bow out in June 2023 when I turn 60 years of age, but if I find I still have an energy, desire and passion for all of this, then it’s likely that I’ll be boring you rigid for a while beyond that.

In the meantime…..thanks for indulging me.  Again.

mp3: New Order – State of The Nation (7″ edit)

Yup.  From the original vinyl.

JC

38 thoughts on “STATE OF THE BLOGGING NATION

  1. “But do you know something? I really don’t care. It never has been about the number of hits or the amount of feedback through the comments section or via e-mails, albeit it is nice to know, occasionally, that you have some sort of receptive audience out there. It really is very much about that sense of community I referred to earlier, one that I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of it for so many years and which shows no sense whatsoever of dissipating.”

    That’s the way to do it. Thank you for sticking around a bit longer. I’ll be adding your blog to my blogroll (at blogroll.org) once I work my way down the queue!

    Take care and blog on!
    Ray

  2. Well I for one look forward to being bored rigid by you for some time to come.

    While I don’t comment as much as I should, TNVV is the only blog i still check/read daily. It tales a lot of time & dedication to keep going after all this time. I found I had little of either so finally shut down To Die By Your Side last year after some time of inactivity. Keep going JC – the love of what you post still shines through!

  3. Great piece. Brilliantly written. I think the thing with blogging about music is that when I hear something excellent I want to tell people and I know that there will 50 or so folks that will know what I mean.

    TNVV is amazing and such an inspiration to my own blogging. Keep it up JC. Oh and thanks for the link…

  4. What a great tribute to now silent bloggers and those that continue.
    A thoroughly enjoyable, lucid read.

    Should 2023 (or before) prove to be the right time to lift the stylus from the vinyl one last time (metaphorically speaking, of course) then so be it.

    I’m pleased that you noted some of the achievements of TVV but if it becomes less fun than it was, or there are other less time consuming projects you want to involve yourself in – you’ll make the healthy choice.

    Maybe, come 2023, you’ll be gadding about the world meeting other bloggers?

    But for now … given that you’ve paid that Box subscription let’s see how many mp3s you can upload?

  5. Thanks for keeping on keeping on. Stumbled across this blog a few years back because I thought it had some connection with the record shop on Elm Row. I wasn’t entirely wrong, in that it usually has a diverse selection of interesting oldies and stuff I had forgotten existed.
    Always interesting to see what’s on the blog. We are similar age and broadly similar musical tastes, so I usually know where you and the community are coming from, but it’s also great to come up against conflicting tastes and opinions and fresh sounds.
    That’s not a very good New Order single btw.

  6. not a contributor – just a reader, the blog is greatly appreciated, new finds, old favourites (and some tosh), love it all

  7. You’ve captured exactly how I was feeling in December – I was blogging poorly and felt I’d said everything I needed to say. I even posted my last post, on new year’s eve, but got drawn back by the sense of community. It is a diminishing community though, as you say, but TnVV remains a beacon in the blogosphere. Even the word “blogosphere” seems like a relic, doesn’t it? But I hope you keep on, as long as you want to. You, and the TnVV, would be much missed.

  8. As I read your post, I feared you were going to announce you were packing it in yourself. I’m relieved you’ve decided to keep going. You are the number one inspiration behind my own music blogging exploits. You are still the Blogfather, as far as I’m concerned. I pop by daily, as I have done for many years now, and even if a post doesn’t interest me on a particular day, I’m confident the following day’s article will.

    I seldomly post now, as you know, but keep my oar in when I have an urge to share something or spout an opinion or two. I love it when others share their opinions in the comments section too – it makes it all worthwhile. The community is alive and well, and will remain so while t(n)vv continues.

    Much love, dude.

  9. It’s never a quick fix with just a handful of words, phrases and clichés.
    Works for me!

  10. Stop blogging in your retirement??!!! Are ye mad, laddie??!! Those are the golden years! I’m still blogging during my lunch hour at work [possibly the only way I can justify the time] and for what it’s worth, I’ve seen my readership increase over time [even though I don’t post files and just write about music] consistently year over year. And I refuse to play in the social media cesspoool that I always thought was a narcissistic horrorshow, and now know to be the very rot in our civilization! Thank goodness for the music blogs like this still left standing as I can’t do it all at Post-Punk Monk!

    If I ever get to retire [and that’s entirely doubtful, as I live in Harmerica where you are expected to work until you drop] you would not believe the hijinx I’d get up to at Post-Punk Monk! There would be podcasts, vodcasts, and maybe even a web series I fantasize about: Record Shopping Road Trip where I would travel with fellow collectors and document the thrill of the search with fellow experts and friends! If I were in your shoes, I’d be transforming my blog into something far more grandiose.

    Think about areas of your passion and consider new venues to freshen up your approach and revel in the amazement! Consider this. I come here every day and have zero interest in the files you host. I come here for the passion, and stay for the insight and commenrtary! Words to the wise, amigo!

  11. Glad you are continuing – TVV is one of the few websites I visit every day – and especially as there must be another ICA world cup coming up this year?

    For my part I enjoy reading this blog, have done for years and know through writing a few ICAs how difficult it is to write about music

    So Thanks etc!

  12. Lovely words, JC – and responses to match, of course.

    If the people from The Repair Shop ran the internet, I like to think it
    would look a little like T(n)VV and your fellow bloggers’ sites: places
    for a daily treat and an antidote to the worst of social media, as
    commented above.

    As you can see, your efforts are well appreciated for however long
    you want to keep posting and hosting.

  13. Everyone’s being nice, JC, but reading between the lines what we’re saying is: you even think about pulling TVV and we’ll come round Villain Towers de-alphabetize your stacks.

  14. JC you are a giant of the blogging world and the inspiration for me to start Football and Music and KeepingItPeel.
    May your star shine brightly for as long as it is possible. – Webbie.

  15. JC, it is nice to have this opportunity to thank you for doing this blog and bringing together other contributors when you step back that day. I am your age and have essentially the same taste in music, though my experiences are shaped by living in the southeastern part of the USA. I may not have the same passion to create TVV/TNVV or the other blogs that you list. But I am grateful for the stories and being introduced to music and bands which never really made an impact here in the US.
    All things must pass and as someone replied above, I actually thought I was reading a ‘closing shop’ post when I first started to read this today. Glad you are still continuing for the time being and will understand when this eventually reaches the end of the line. Thank you for keeping this going for as long as you have.

  16. Like mentioned above, you and Dubhed are the only two blogs that I read daily but i enjoy them both so much. I will be retiring within 5 years so if you can keep going until at least 2028 that would be much appreciated! 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  17. Just wanted to echo what others have said. I always pop by here and enjoy the content you put together

  18. Just to add my own thanks to all the words above. I read the blog every morning but only add comments occasionally. Often I like to listen to either the files or my own copies of the tracks later in the day – and then forget to comment!!
    The blog has been a way into finding so much new music – Ballboy and Twilight Sad as key recommendations.
    The fact that an online hermit such as I am is prepared to post ANYTHING is a tribute to the quality of the content.
    So glad you still want to continue to post. I will certainy continue to read. Not sure about the step into ICAing though!

  19. I can only echo what everyone else said. I come here everyday and this blog was the main inspiration for Bagging Area (along with Acid Ted).

    It’s interesting that as a form music blogging has become so outdated (but is clearly still enjoyed by many). In the time frame this blog has operated we’ve gone from MySpace to TikTok and yet there’s something about blogging that requires thought, time and space to write, even if its only a paragraph or 2- it’s not just firing off a Tweet or Facebook post. I quite like the idea that something internet based and 21st century has already become archaic.

    Keep going.

  20. What a great post Jim. I read it and remember our unforgettable gathering a few years ago. Your words speak from my heart because I also thought about setting my blog. But I am glad that you have decided to continue, because a day without a post from you would not be the same. I also had a period where I thought my inspiration left me and I didn’t know if what I was publishing was still relevant. In the end, it’s important that I stand behind what I publish something of myself, my passion for music, and it’s not relevant if everybody likes it or agree. If I give only one person an inspiration, makes him smile or bring back memories, it’s more than enough for me. At least I have to say that TNVV were the reason and always a great inspiration to start my own blog. So keep on doing your great job.

    Stay well and much love, mate

  21. I bitterly regret missing out on the 2017 blogger’s summit and hope at some point in the future there’ll be another opportunity for a gettogether. I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of the community that resides in this little corner of t’internet and am humbled to be mentioned in dispatches within this very post. Thanks for everything JC – keep on keeping on.
    All hail the blogfather – long may you run.

  22. Yours was the first music blog I ever visited. It led to connections and friendships that I have cherished over the years. I’ve also learned so much from your vast knowledge and detailed posts. It’s just pure daily joy. I’m glad you will be at it for awhile longer! x

  23. I don’t quite know how to put into words what I want to say here, but your blog, and the blogs written by others whose names I see above, have more influence and power than you know. Your voice, and theirs, come through strongly and directly in every post, and your readers—even those across an ocean, who’ve never had the privilege of visiting your part of the world—appreciate the gifts of your time and opinions and anecdotes, and we come to see you as friends we actually care about. That may sound—how do you all put it, “naff”?—but it is true. We celebrate your joys and—too frequently of late—choke up when tragedy comes to you. We miss you when you’re not around. So thank you for not calling it quits, and thanks to the others above who carry on despite having every valid reason to pack it in. And by the way, because of you JC and the others, I have a Spotify playlist called “Blogger Recommendations” (working title, forgive me) that includes hundreds of great songs you bloggers in Scotland/England/Japan/etc. have brought forth, which I had never heard before, and never would have appreciated without your decision to write about them. That’s what it’s all about, right?

  24. Late to the conversation, as always…! Thanks so much for an inspiring post, JC, if one was ever going to provoke impassioned responses, this was it. I really enjoyed reading the posts and the comments that have followed and, for me, that’s what it’s all about. When everything seems to be going to hell, a blog post or a featured song or playlist will make all the difference. Sometimes it’s uplifting, sometimes it’s heartbreaking, sometimes I like the music, sometimes I don’t, but they always speak to me in some way and they are never, ever boring.

    I have been reading and enjoying blogs for nearly two decades, even tried my first one in the mid-00s, but otherwise remained silent, with a very occasional comment here and there, including TVV. The pandemic changed a lot and, in a positive way, it got me commenting a bit more, contributing a few posts to TVV, starting another blog and then building momentum so that I’m (still just about) posting daily. I follow all of the blogs on your side bar, plus others, some daily, some as often as they are updated. With the demands of posting on Dubhed daily, my comments on other blogs has dipped dramatically but I am there and enjoying the brilliant writing, music and comments that continue to flow.

    TVV is essential reading for me and, on a personal level, you have been hugely inspirational and encouraging with my own efforts. When you decide to close shop, JC, you’ll have an incredible body of work and far-reaching community to reflect one. In the meantime, thanks for TVV, every post and every day.

  25. As I read your blog every morning I missed this post yesterday, realized I had missed something by reading today’s post – and I can only echo what every one else has already said. It’s a treat to read all the posts, I have discovered a lot of music by your (and fellow contributors) guiding hands. Keep it up, I’ll be around as long as you are.

  26. Jeez!
    I thought you were gonna tell us you were giving up…
    Don’t do that again, I got quite a shock.

  27. I look forward to reading the blog as and when I have the time to do so. Always interesting and more often that not, there’s something there that I didn’t know, be that a fact or a piece of music. I don’t comment on every post – only when I feel the need to. I hope you keep this going for a good while yet!

  28. Your efforts are appreciated and TVV is regular bookmark on my daily tour of music resources. I run the indiepopsavedmylife content on Twitter (and previously FB) and i admit not a lot of thinking and preparation needs to go into that due to the nature of social media, while what you do requires so much more I imagine. Your writing is engaging while detailed and I enjoy the bands you visit and revisit. First time commenting but long time consumer of your talent.

  29. JC – I’d just like to say your blogs have kept me interested and entertained for many years (although I do feel guilty about not contributing as much as I should ) and it will be a sad day if and when you hang up your blogging boots!

    I think you and I are the same age and went to Strathclyde Uni around the same time so our musical background is very similar . I thought I was knowledgeable about music but you are a veritable font of information!

    I remember meeting you at a Sounds in the suburbs Martin Stephenson gig many years ago when I got up and sang a few songs with him and you even mentioned me in your review !

    It must take a lot of effort and dedication so here’s hoping you keep going for a while yet -keep up the good work !!!

  30. I’ve been writing my music related blog since March 2007. It’s had various names such as ‘Renaissance Fair’, ‘Flower Bomb Songs’ and ‘Opulent Conceptions’. – two years ago I realised that hardly any comments were of note, only SPAM. This coincided with a period of burn-out and I almost jacked it in.
    I then decided to move over to WordPress for a fresh set of paint and lay-outs and got my mojo back. I re-christened my blog to ‘Yellow Paper Suns’ and added other categories such as buying records from junk shops and charity stores, HI-FI equipment, audio file remastering and boyhood stuff like subbuteo and football.
    You will know that the written material you have amassed over the years is too valuable to erase for ever.
    Keep it real. Keep it going.

  31. Sorry for the late comment, I’ve been away, visiting your site is a must do everyday, and whilst I don’t like everything you post I love your enthusism and joy and a massive thank you for introducing me to bands I’d never heard before especially The Twilight Sad –

  32. Hi there, coming to this late- I post virtually no where but have been visiting your blog now for years and years, and have always enjoyed your writing and research.

  33. Just wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated all your efforts over the years – this is my favourite music blog on the web (even though I didn’t visit as much as I’d have liked to in 2021)
    I hope to continue to support your fine efforts for however long you want to keep going – I have rediscovered so many lost gems via TVV and learned about many a more contemporary release too… top stuff!

    Cheers

    Nev

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