Breaking down the barriers between fan and band

BlogHer Original Post

If you would have told me fifteen, even ten, years ago that I'd have a way to reach some of my most cherished artists without going the "send a semi-hagiographic fan letter to said artist's record company, and maybe on a lark he of she will send a photocopied autograph back" route, I never would have believed you. (The above story is true, by the way. My cousin and I did write a letter to Davy Jones of the Monkees, and regrettably, he did not answer.)

It's no secret that blogs, tour journals, and especially MySpace, have changed the way artists reach out to fans. The first "rock star blog" I ever stumbled upon was former Husker Du frontman, Bob Mould's. Having a glimpse into the day-to-day of the leader of one of my favorite bands of the 80s was a little mind-blowing, to say the least. Granted, four years ago, I barely knew what a blog was, let alone its capacity to break down the barriers between band and fan.

Fast forward a few years, and I find this post, Are Women Rockers Better Bloggers, courtesy of Nancy Baym's Online Fandom:

Well, it would be nice if female musicians finally got the edge in SOMETHING, but given my modest familiarity with the research on sex differences in communication, I have to be a bit skeptical here.

She then adds:

Think of men’s communication as one bell curve and women’s as another. Most of both bell curves overlap. There’s stuff on the tail end of either that is more likely to come out of one sex or another. But the overwhelming majority of our communication just isn’t as different as people like to imagine it is. It ain’t Mars and Venus, it’s Earth.

I am skeptical, too -- to a point. But if there are differences in the way men and women communicate, whether perceived or not, why shouldn't any artist take advantage of the medium?

Kimya Dawson, who found herself with a number one album in the soundtrack to the highly acclaimed move, Juno, started her blog five years ago, and it's easy to trace her evolution. In one of her more recent posts, she says of the movie's title character:

I am so glad Juno wasn't a bimbo. Too many female film characters are.

And she gives this advice:

Please girls, don't pretend you are weak or dumb because you think that is how you have to be.

Kristin Hersh, leader of Throwing Muses, has blogged regularly for the past three years. In her latest post she talks about the perils of the appearance-obsessed music industry:

These rules are not mysterious, nor are they difficult to follow. In fact, there's only one real rule: be attractive. If you work in the recording industry, you must play attractive music, you must be an attractive human. If you work in the film industry, you must make attractive movies, you must be an attractive human, etc.

I've watched musicians I loved buy into this insidious phenomenon. The idea that to bring their music to more people they'd need to dumb it down. Whether they believed in their own success or their own failure didn't matter, the end result was the same: something imaginary killed their art.

So what artists have you discovered, or re-discovered, through their blogs?

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