Blogger-Run Labels: Conflict of Interest or Evolution?

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In early 2010, the world of online music publishing was home to a quiet transformation, one that may leave a lasting mark on the independent record industry.

In the course of only two months, several popular indie music bloggers launched their own small press record and/or tape labels, operating in conjunction with their namesake publications and specializing in artists that fall within their editorial scope: Gorilla Vs. Bear and Weekly Tape Deck with Forest Family Records; My Old Kentucky Blog with Roaring Colonel Records; Chocolate Bobka with The Curatorial Club; White Guys With Beards with Wonder Beard Tapes; and Yvynyl and Frightened by Bees with Trig Club.

Although these new operations are of many shapes and sizes, the event casts a spotlight on the extent to which blogging diverges from both traditional music writing and journalism writ large. Several blogger-run labels debuted to great media fanfare (as far up on the musico-journalistic pecking order as Pitchfork), despite violating one of the greatest tenets of traditional journalism in any medium: the belief that the writer writes primarily for his or her readers, and should not stand to benefit financially or professionally from any opinions expressed within his or her writing.

Do blogger-run labels represent a conflict of interest? Or is blogging a distinct form of communication entirely, exempt from the ethical standards of journalism and criticism? If so, what sets blogging apart from other media? Do any rules apply?

• Gorilla Vs. Bear / Weekly Tape Deck
Forest Family Records

• Chocolate Bobka
The Curatorial Club

• My Old Kentucky Blog
Roaring Colonel

• White Guys With Beards
Wonder Beard Tapes

• Yvynyl / Frightened by Bees
Trig Club

by Emilie Friedlander and Georgia Kral

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