Why The Bloggerati Turned On The Watch The Throne Leaker
Things just ain't the same for bloggers. A couple of events transpired in the last few weeks that may completely change the way most people view music bloggers. First, there was the incident where a writer from The Fader got kicked out of a media-only listening session for Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne.
The duo's handlers had made their "no tweets" policy clear. Homeboy whipped out his smartphone and got the boot immediately. But that wasn't the end of that episode. He was further reviled by his peers on Twitter. Worse still, he landed a spot on Rap Radar's infamous You Played Yourself, a column typically reserved for losers.
History repeated itself Monday night at another Throne session, this one held at the Hayden Planetarium inside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Security was crazy; one attendee remarked that the "gatekeepers were more like Roger Clemens on the mound juiced up to the fullest."
Folks were instructed to check in their phones. Despite all the restrictions, blogger DDot Omen managed to walk out of the theater with a cache of lo-fi snippets. He posted a detailed review of the album on his site along with the muffled tunes, and came under fire within minutes.
Omen maintains that he only shared those snippets to enhance his review. No matter how well-intentioned, the blogosphere wasn't buying any of it. They pelted him with a barrage of angry tweets, and he eventually joined the Fader writer on Rap Radar's wall of shame. The message from the bloggerati was clear: You fucked up, homie.
All of that is interesting for many reasons. Chief among them is the fact that music bloggers, who are "bootleggers" by default, took a strong stance against the very act they practice daily. Bloggers post leaks all the time, sometimes at the behest of artists and A&Rs. To Omen, this was business as usual.
So why was he singled out for persecution? Perhaps people were turned off by his arrogance - as he bragged on his blog, he wasn't even invited to the party, and only cleared security because of his "connect." So, there's that. Maybe some of those who threw stones were trying to curry favor with The Throne in the hopes of being rewarded with crumbs from the royal dinner table. Whatever the case, the blogosphere ethered one of its own.
Essentially, the evisceration of DDot Omen was an act of self-preservation. It's bad enough that bloggers have been under the RIAA's microscope lately. Last Thanksgiving, several prominent hip-hop sites were embargoed by the FBI for sharing illegal MP3s.
Recently a long list of blacklisted sites was leaked. It included damn near every hip-hop blog in history. It makes perfect sense that the bloggerati would condemn Omen's antics because they're tired of being persecuted by the alphabet boys. The last thing they want is to give the industry another reason to reboot that witch hunt.
What does all this mean for music bloggers going forward? For starters, blogging is still very much a game of "first!" but there's a bigger emphasis on respecting the game. These days, when major labels urge sites to hold off on posting leaks, they willingly comply and wait for the green light.
Spit on the game and risk getting your legs chopped off. That wasn't always the case. With blogs being viewed as legitimate media outlets now more than ever, the shift towards traditional journalistic standards is only natural.
Still, questions remain. The definition of what's acceptable will depend on who you ask. The arbiter of what constitutes ethical practice is even less clear. But none of that matters at the end of the day.
When you cross that blurry line between right and wrong, or subject people to horribly muffled MP3s in a bid to rack up pageviews, the bloggerati will let you have it.