Great article by Ann Powers, LA Times staff writer, discussing the hype-machine that music blogs and the interweb have become. Among other things, she goes into the abundance of content now easily accessible through these sites and the growing difficulty of differentiating between the “real critical interest and the momentary attention of Web surfers.” As Dj Sickamore, newly appointed A&R for Atlantic Records, points out to Powers, the machine doesn’t always work and it shouldn’t be the end all marketing outlet solution for artists. Especially for uninteresting (so-called) hiphop artists like P.Diddy. Speaking of Sean (it’s ok, I can refer to him by his first name, he sent me a personal message), maybe his PR team’s campaign would have fared better if they concentrated on getting him to attend open mics, as per Sickamore’s suggestion, (even though he has publicly recognized he’s not a rapper in the past) instead of sending bloggers personal messages about the names he chose for his newly birthed twins. I’m sure that’s interesting to People Magazine and all but do we really need the subject line “What Do You Name Royalty” clogging our inboxes? Am I alone in this? I appreciate the attention from Warner Music Group, and as duly noted by Powers, we bloggers love to have our egos stroked. But c’mon? A fringe, mostly undefined, anti-social blog like grandgood is sensitive to being confused as a gossip blog. I know, I know, what really bothered me was the few moments when I thought I had a growing personal connection with Bad Boy and fam, only to have my bubble bursted when I googled the subject and saw I wasn’t the only blog with the exclusive content. But what can I say? I have very sensitive sensitivities. If you’re going to stroke my ego, stroke it the right way (yeah baby). Give me some real love. And by that I mean, if you’re going to try to be one of those “professional rainmakers” that Powers notes in her article, try to learn a little bit about your portfolio of blogs before sending mass emails. Make believe you kind of understand them and their audience. It will ultimately lead to your benefit and success. Link

Three-quarters of the publicists I surveyed supply MP3 files directly to bloggers. Digital media marketing firms focus entirely on servicing the Web. Bloggers need content, and often enjoy the recognition. “Bands such as Birdmonster, Cold War Kids and Sound Team are relentlessly marketed to bloggers, just this never-ending stream of e-mails from flacks,” wrote the Queens-based writer Matthew Perpetua, who pioneered the MP3 blog with his Fluxblog, in an e-mail. “It’s depressing that all you need to catch on among the newer MP3 blogs is to barrage them with PR emails.”

The publicists feeding the machine don’t disagree. “Are blogs really an independent medium to express a voice?” one pondered anonymously. “It’s hard to know what’s genuine, or what is being paid for. One of my employees was given a free phone from Virgin Mobile just as a ‘gift,’ because he blogs about music.”

And so the old vices of the buzz business — skilled seduction and possibly even bribery — have penetrated the supposedly free space of the Web.

“Some bloggers genuinely write about what interests them, because they’re crate-diggers,” said Glenn Peoples, who runs the music business blog from his home in Nashville. “But bloggers don’t always mention the extent to which they are comped and courted. About two years ago, I started noticing quotes from blogs on publicity one-sheets. All of a sudden, indie labels were like, ‘This is our press.’

“Diddy had the most brilliant new-media campaign, and it didn’t work,” said Sickamore, an A&R director for Atlantic Records who made his name in the competitive world of hip-hop mix tapes. “He had a crazy incredible YouTube campaign, MySpace updates, but people weren’t that interested. When you say, ‘I’m the man, I’m so cool,’ that’s not enough. It’s about being on the scene.”

In hip-hop, the physical connection — with a neighborhood, a city, an arena full of fans — prevails. Though there are many excellent hip-hop-oriented blogs, MP3 downloads can’t make a rapper’s reputation. “Hip-hop is not a blog culture,” said Sickamore, who himself blogs on the XXL magazine website. “It’s more like the political world. You have to shake hands and kiss babies. Go to record stores, do open mikes and build that buzz.”