Posted 13 June 2008 - 05:27 PM
I don't think the music forum is as dull as most people are making it out to be, but here are a few reasons I think that it is a different place than it was three years ago.
1) We've run out of things to talk about.
I'm not that serious about this one, but I think there is a little merit to it. The SOMB has been around for about 7 or so years now, and in the four years or so I've been around, we've already talked about most of the rock cannon, done about fifty different music polls, and made our own genre based box sets. I really enjoy the artist discography review threads that people have been doing. There is a huge range of things left to talk about in these.
2) People are doing a better job of bumping threads instead of making new ones.
This is good because it keeps the board from being cluttered. However, at the same time, everyone's opinions on R.E.M. (or any other band) have been made clear on the first two pages of the thread, so no one needs to state them again. I don't see this as a bad thing, but it has changed the culture of the board some.
3) Changes in the record release model.
Not that we can really do anything about this, but the way that most records come out now is that they are leaked and we and the rest of the internet get to form an opinion on each one weeks or months before the mainstream media catches on. When the Vampire Weekend backlash picked up when the album actually came out and mainstream sources picked up on it, the SOMB's response was overwhelming negative to it. But if you look back to when the demos came out (and at our EOY poll), they are a band that a good deal of SOMBies enjoyed. If a band like VW were being featured on MTV or in Spin at the same time they were being discovered on the internet, would the rhetoric around them here be as negative? I don't know, what I'd imagine that it wouldn't be. At the same time, when there are people here who don't here about bands before they break on Pitchfork or something else, there's not a huge amount of SOMBies that have anything new to say about it, so the discussion dies pretty quickly or turns negative right away.
4) SOMB has become less Chicago-centric.
It makes sense that most of the posters here are from Chicago, considering the show is out of Chicago and has only been syndicated/podcast for the last couple years (don't worry, I know there are people like Mitchell and the Good Dr Bill aren't Chicago people and have been around for a long time). As more people come to the board from other locations, either from listening to the show or just googling and finding us, there is a little less of a Chicago connection on the board. It is still a big factor, look at our giant threads for Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Festival, but when talking about live shows, it used to be that everyone interested in the Arcade Fire show (again, it could be any band) would see it on the same night, and come back the next morning to talk about it. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing, but it does create this distinction between old school SOMBies who live around Chicago and go see the same things and everyone else. Which leads me into my last point...
5) The collective tastes of the board have shifted.
Again, this idea dates back to the board becoming less Chicago-centric. In the early days of the board, most of us arrived here through hearing the Sound Opinions radio show in Chicago. People met and bonded in real life because they'd go out to the same shows around town. Because (or leading to) these factors, the musical tastes of most of the boarders was similar. I mean, Automatic For The People won at least two versions of an early all-time album polls, it didn't finish in the top 5 for the SOMB 500, and I'd have to imagine that its ranking will go down next year or whenever we do a new SOMB 500. Due to a few factors (new posters, younger posters, embrace of pop/hip-hop by indie community), the taste of the board has shifted. One of the first things I remember reading on the SOMB was a giant thread about Springsteen's The Rising. Last year, the thread on Magic wasn't nearly as interesting, mainly because there was only a certain selection of the board interested in it. You can see this in all different types of threads. For the most part, people tend to stay out of threads for bands they have no interest in (positive or negative). That was the case four years ago, too, but the difference then was there weren't as many threads about bands that a lot of people weren't interested in. Again, this isn't a bad thing, but it just shifts the dynamics of the board.
I don't want any of that stuff to sound like I hate it here, or even that I think something needs to be done about the Music side of the board. This is one of my favorite places on the internet, and I think the only message board that I haven't lost interest in after a couple months. There are definitely things that I wish we didn't have to deal with on the music forum, like some of the trolling by certain board members, the same circular arguments that seem to pop up over and over again in certain types of threads, and some of the threads that are created so vaguely that people who might actually be interested in your Sum 41 youtube videos will never find it, but overall, I think if people really are having problems with what's going on in the music forums, it might say more about that poster's current relationship with music than anything else. I know that there are times that I feel like I don't have anything to post on the music forum simply because I've already said everything I need to about bands I love, or I just don't have anything to say beyond, "Yeah, this is good," but I'm always interested to hear what everyone else thinks about it.