Why I Won’t Be Bum Rushing the Charts

I’ve seen a number of references to this Bum Rush the Charts deal. Tomorrow is the day, and they want you to buy the song “Mine Again” by Black Lab from iTunes. The first most basic reason is that I’ve never put a cent of my money into the iTunes system and there is no way I’m going to start for this. I don’t even have my own iTunes account, I use my wife’s. I’m not giving them my credit card, I’m not purchasing any music inside a DRM envelope regardless of the point trying to be made. To me, that’s the more important point than the one the BRTC project is trying to prove.

The other reason is that I think the ultimate goal is a stupid one. From their manifesto:

Podcasting gets little respect from traditional media. To them we’re little more than a joke, than amateurs. What they don’t understand is that podcasting is more than just a delivery mechanism – it’s a social movement. People are sick of the watered-down, cookie-cutter content that networks and record companies expect us to enjoy. People are tired of watching friends and loved ones get sued by record labels who only care about profits and nothing else, not even the artists they supposedly represent.

and later

The track we’ve chosen is “Mine Again” by the band Black Lab. A band that was dropped from not just one, but two major record labels (Geffen and Sony/Epic) and in the process forced them to fight to get their own music back. We picked them because making them number one, even for just one day, will remind the RIAA record labels of what they turned their backs on – and who they ignore at their peril.

I personally don’t care if the traditional media gives me little respect. I give them little respect, so why not? Let’s keep the relationship symmetric. The whole endeavor smacks of high school power dynamics to me, of trying hard to impress people who don’t care about you in order to validate yourself. I don’t need the validation of incumbent media, I don’t need the respect of the music industry. Fuck them. Why should I care what the RIAA thinks? They are a corrupt and immoral organization, so I’d rather have their contempt than their respect any day. You don’t prove that new media matters by trying to out RIAA the big media. You prove it matters by mattering, by doing good work that you care about and stand behind. Artificially manipulating the charts for a single day, even if it actually works, does nothing of lasting value for anyone.

What’s the best case outcome the organizers want? Suppose it does catch big media’s attention. What happens differently Friday than it would have? Black Lab gets signed again to Geffen? I’d argue that you do new media a better favor by ignoring the incumbents and doing business your own way, not trying to play their game by their standards. It’s an absurd and ineffectual exercise in misplaced activism and misallocated priorities.

They state:

If you believe in the power of new media, on March 22nd, 2007, take 99 cents and 2 minutes of your time to join the revolution and make iTunes “Mine Again”.

I believe in the power of new media, and on March 22nd, 2007 I’ll be listening to it, watching it, having a phone interview with another podcaster and writer (she’s interviewing me for a change), and who knows, I might even create a little of it. Hell, I might even buy merch from a few of my favorite shows. What I won’t be doing is trying to search for external validation from organizations I don’t even like. Instead, I’ll work on being strong enough not to need it.

If you are willing to dump one dollar into that cause, might I suggest you PayPal a couple dollars to the Reverend Magdalen legal fund. The email address magdalen@subgenius.com is the one. That’s where my money went and for a much better cause.

Update: I checked the charts just now (7:30 PM EDT) and didn’t see Black Lab in the top 10. I did see Gym Class Heroes at #5 though, a band I only know about because my brother played them in his podcast. So it goes.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

14 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Be Bum Rushing the Charts”

  1. I made the analogy of some podcasters trying to get the attention of Big Daddy Mainstream (“look what I’m doing Daddy. Look at me!”) I thought it was clever until I read the cool kids in high school analogy. Damn, I wish I was better at being a cantankerous malcontent like Dave. 🙂

  2. I am so moved by your words and appreciate people gathering around them. You soo grabbed the point and drove it down the Matrix rabbit hole. From the lack of their understanding the medium – to the disconnect between consumer and product, the mass conglomerate has lost credibilty and value. I’m proud to stand by the Dave Slushers and Eric Rices.

  3. You make some really good points here Dave. We’re trying to do something good with real indie music with our Blubrry Jam To Fight Cystic Fibrosis. I think we’ve got a combination of great music and a very worthy cause. And we;re certainly not looking for any kind of validation from big media. Your support on this would be greatly appreciated.

  4. yes the entire effort was more than a tad mental, and far too teenage for me, but hang on guys… forget that moaning a while. you’re missing the point.

    look at the results. actually, that was some flexing of muscle, and deserves some closer scrutiny.

    FYI i totally ignored the day, it was my sister’s birthday.

  5. Deek, and the results are what? They did budge the charts. So, today, what is different from how it would have been if it never happened?

    Rob, I’ll check it out.

    Ben, I’m with you brother.

    Derek, am I a malcontent? I’m actually quite content in life. When I talked to Leesa Barnes, I used the analogy of trying to impress the prom queen.

    Scott, the only response I have to you is “Huh?”

    Ken and Mark, thanks.

  6. No one who desires change is content. Be proud to be a malcontent. Interesting that you didn’t mention the cantankerous part.

  7. Man, I laughed at that analogy of the prom queen. I couldn’t stop laughing and when I produce the episode next week, I’ll keep my laughter in just so everyone can hear how funny your analogy is.

    In defense of Dave – he is quite content with life. His blog makes him appear as if he’s angry and wants to rage against the machine, but over the phone, he’s such a sweetheart.

    Okay, back to writing. I only have 18 days to come up with 88% more content. Blah.

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