More on Accountability

Zack Zarrillo, in answer to Mike Meeze:

Ultimately, the decision about which bands we cover on the site falls on me. On a normal day, it seems clear which bands align themselves with my “general moral code” and which don’t. When it’s obvious that a band has no problem spewing sexist, racist, homophobic or generally hate-filled rhetoric into the world, it’s time to pull the plug.

Accountability is hard. Accountability in the alternative music scene is very hard. It destroyed my drive early on and made me question my moral standing on a daily basis.

As a writer, you’re inclined to share what’s happening. As a music industry professional, you’re expected to uphold relationships that may hinge on what you write about a contact’s client. As a human being with human interests and expectations for other humans, these things wage war in your head constantly.

Alternative Press CEO Mike Shea, an early mentor of mine, taught me a lot about what I should and should not say out loud. The music business is built on who you know, what they know or have heard about you, and what you can do for them. If you talk poorly about a musician – even for reasons completely removed from the music they make – you may feel better for saying it, but you’re shooting yourself in the foot at the same time. A musicians’ entire team will remember you for something like that. And those people? They work with other musicians you don’t have a problem with. Thing is, now they have a problem with you.

Writing about music is being stuck between a rock and a dozen hard places. Music journalism as the old pros know it is dead. You can be as courageous as you want in your writing, but you’re going to upset somebody you didn’t intend to offend. That is, if you put yourself in that position…

I’m taking a break from all that. Writing for a blog or magazine so dependent on cooperation with management teams, publicists, and label reps is a balancing act I have no interest in anymore. I enjoy the freedom of writing what I think. Standing by the morals I’ve built around myself for 20 years is important to me. I want to be held accountable for that.