The media landscape has shifted enormously in the last ten years. In the US, newspapers no longer have a staff of music critics - except the Times (and any other paper?) - and it seems most papers don't even have one any more. There are two full-time classical music critics left in California, if I'm not mistaken. Bloggers aren't exactly making up the journalism gap, but we're trying.
Many or most bloggers aren't credentialed; that is, many of us are writing about subjects in which we don't have a degree or professional experience or some other imprimatur of respectability. We're not writing for an official organization, whether that's a newspaper or magazine an online journal such as SFCV or NewMusicBox or Salon or the HuffPost.
We're not professionals who are getting paid for what we do, though I was getting paid for reviews by SFCV before I started blogging, and at least one blogger has vaulted into the pages of the NY Post.
Locally, how bloggers get treated by musical organizations varies quite a bit, depending on the attitudes and knowledge of their press departments, paid publicists, and/or the organization members running publicity on a volunteer basis. Here's some of what I know:
- A few medium-sized professional organizations regularly send me ticket offers.
- These organizations are somewhat haphazard about who they do offer tickets to.
- A number of small organizations have me on their press lists, but don't send ticket offers.
- One small organization that I know of has been making ticket offers to bloggers, among other reviewers, since last spring.
- I don't get offers from SFS, though from the number of bloggers I see there, I think they give tickets on request to bloggers.
- SF Opera doesn't make offers to bloggers (or at least not to me). They have been known to refuse to put bloggers on their press-release mailing list, which I simply don't understand. I do get their press releases, presumably because I've reviewed them many times for SFCV.
Here's what I think musical organizations and presenters should do: make up your minds about your policies, let bloggers know what they are, and be consistent.
This is especially important for small organizations. As a matter of your own survival, I think it behooves you to make comps available to bloggers. We all know that Joshua Kosman can't be in more than one place a night or three or four places each week. Even SFCV can't cover the onslaught of performances; they have limits of their own.
You want coverage, we're your best source. At the organization size I'm thinking of, wider coverage from bloggers might even make a difference in attendance and in general awareness of your group.
It's not a survival issue for SFS and SFO, or, I imagine, for presenters such as SF Performances and Cal Performances. They've got the big bucks donors, which small choruses, new music groups, and other small organizations simply don't.
Here's hoping that Bay Area music organizations figure out blogging and bloggers.