Scottish Internets A-Buzz With Music

Map of the Internet

There seem to be a lot of things happening on the internet in and around the Scottish music scene at the moment.  This is nice, because for a while it seemed like the only real participants in McMusic 2.0 were the old stagers like myself, 17 Seconds, The Vinyl Villain, The Pop Cop, And Before the First Kiss (RIP for now) and Manic Pop Thrills.  We can welcome a couple of new sites to the fold as well, in the form of The Steinberg Principle, Across the Kitchen Table and Scottish Friction.  There are the more venerable organs such as Is This Music? and Jock Rock as well, but it seemed like ages since we’d been fed any fresh meat.  There are a few others run by professional journalists, such as Spins ‘n’ Needles, Broon’s Tunes and Lots of Random Words, but they seem for the most part to be places to store their writings for other people, rather than sites with a focus of their own.

It’s all quite old school though: essentially the text from what would have been a magazine or a fanzine of days gone by has simply been moved to the internet which, although it’s an improvement in many ways, is hardly revolutionary.

There are two reasons I think that a lot of this isn’t quite stretching the internet to its full capability just yet.  Firstly, community.  One of the key things the internet can do which traditonal media could never do is to build a community out of the readership who actually get to participate in the project itself.

Some of the blogs mentioned above, and this one as well, go some way to achieving this sense of community.  The Vinyl Villain is probably the best I can think of, in terms of bringing disparate people together and letting them become friends simply by virtue of reading the same website.  It’s not an easy thing to do, and JC has done it very well indeed, but the undisputed kings are the Fence Collective, whose web presence has really helped cement the community of musicians and fans together.  It probably wasn’t really intended to be when it started, but their Beef Board is a masterpiece of Web 2.0 savvy.  And this from a label that doesn’t even sell mp3s.

The other thing which most of the sites mentioned so far really lack is any kind of multimedia.  I am trying, but a look at the BBC’s Homegame Sessions shows you what I mean.  Since the iPlayer they are pretty much the masters of this universe as far as I can tell, and a splendid example of how to bring together print, video and audio in one fairly seamless package.

Recently there have been some new additions to the tartan interwebs, however, which promise to help push us collectively forward a little.

Off the Beaten Tracks – with whom I have collaborated on a couple of Homegame Sessions – is offering live video sessions and band profiles, exploiting the rather amazing Edinburgh architecture to create some really distinctive videos.  The Malcolm Middleton ones from Homegame can be seen here.

Glasgow Podcart – this is more of an arts and music blog, giving it a broader scope, which I like.  They combine their visual, written and podcast material really well.  This is a bit more Web 2.0, if you ask me, although they shower this train wreck of a site with compliments in this episode, so their judgment does seem to leave just a little to be desired.

Products of a Gaseous Brain – Milo will be shocked rigid and make protestations of amateurish bumbling when he sees me put him forward as an example of what a blog can and should be.  It may be rough, but there’s video, podcasts, writing, reviews, random bollocks and everything.  Apart from one unfortunate error, where he interviews yours truly on his podcast, this is a consistently excellent site.

So there we go, things are starting to move forward in this part of the world.  It’s good too, because these new ventures should spur on those of us who have been around for a few year now to do better and more interesting things.  It’s all about ideas these days, and there are some very good ones knocking around at the moment.

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