As of August 2014 Perfect Porridge was put into archive mode. Thanks for the last decade of awesomeness! Here are some closing thoughts…
When I started Perfect Porridge back in 2004 the world was a much different place.
OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” was #1 that year, for starters. Ugh. But MySpace was emerging as a more important music distribution (and marketing) tool than the legacy big dogs, like Rolling Stone. But the majors didn’t have that figured out yet.
Indie and underground bands were finally able to find listeners, build fan bases and advertise concert dates using these new and emerging social media networks and blogs. Legacy labels were trying to figure out how to balance the lack of scale with these online tools — compared to radio/TV — and determine the meaning of this new era of engagement.
It was the wild west, and it was awesome.
I was still new to Minneapolis and was just leaving my role as editor in chief of Art Scene magazine. My wife and I moved here, in part, because of the music scene, but what I didn’t discover until I got here was the amazingly vibrant music media scene — bloggers, photographers, writers and scenesters (true fans!) who each did their part to lift up the most promising bands, highlight the best tours coming through, and foster each other’s codependency and costly addiction for spending every spare dollar on music, shows and organizations who helped equip musicians to create music and put on shows.
Minneapolis/St. Paul has unique attributes (significant demographic size with small-town feel, diverse musical tastes, two major newspapers, colossal theater community) that created a perfect storm for blogs, messages boards and social media to usurp the mainstream press overlords – or at least offer a consistent complement to them — in volume and breadth of album reviews, show previews/reviews, last night’s photos, and discussions geared more toward highlighting great music than shunning the bad.
It was Minnesota Nice ala the WWW.
I’ve always been an outlier to the music media community here. I didn’t live here through the Prince, Husker Du or even Soul Asylum eras. I tend to do have a cyclical attention span on writing about music. I always had a full time job and never really desired to write about music in a way would generate self-sustaining revenue. Unlike some of the fantastic music writers in our city, I never considered myself a music journalist, and compared to those who make it their craft, I’m an unworthy comparison. I just loved discovering new music and sharing it with others, and I always have.
For a while I was committed to posting one review per day and a “Show Highlights” roundup each week. I think was I still in magazine editor mode, and it just felt good. I had a giant Post Office box for all of the incoming CDs (name another 30 year-old who pays $150/year to receive mail!), and I even had a crew of writers for a period.
From Sigur Ros to Tommy Lee, The Kills to Cursive, Maynard James Keenan to Michael Stipe, this blog offered me the opportunity to meet, interview and photograph some of my very favorite bands and musicians. There were so many magical moments (and some near misses) over these last 10 years. It’s really thrilling to think about.
But I also went from zero to three awesome kids in the last 10 years, and they needed me home at night more than I needed to be gone at shows or staying up late writing music reviews. And I’m glad I made that call to stay home more, even if the content became hit and miss.
And that content, however limited in reach, was important.
Even with today’s tools (Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook), if you’re a new musician or band looking for attention in a local market, you still need someone to give you a chance, offer honest feedback and share with others. It’s often something as simple as a pull-quote from a respected local blog that will have booking agents give you a chance or a mainstream music journalist give you a listen.
That was the power of the music community in the Twin Cities in the mid-2000s, which has changed in some ways, but really isn’t so different today. Some may call these influencers and tastemakers “gatekeepers,” like that is a negative thing, but I believe they serve a critical role in the music attention economy. And I’m excited many of that original crew is still going strong, while a new generation is exploring emerging ways to help elevate the vibrant music scene of which we are so very blessed.
With all that said, I’m entering a new season.
So that brings us to today. I’m damn busy and not able to prioritize managing the site or doing the music community justice. And there is nothing I dislike more than dormant websites. I’m grateful to the Minneapolis music community, the labels, touring bands and readers over the years who have made running this site such a rewarding endeavor. And I’m not giving up music, just foregoing writing about it.
See you around.