Beth’s Corner # 9

NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT CHILDREN’S MUSIC…

By: Beth Blenz-Clucas

Friends:

I recently traded emails with the editors at www.commonsensemedia.org, a site that I’ve respected and enjoyed reading for the past several years. They’ve provided a smart and helpful parents’ guide to current media. Their reviewers and editors are astute and articulate, and until last fall, they gave plenty of coverage to indie music and DVDs from all sorts of artists. In the past, the only criterion was quality, and they featured the best stuff.

According to the editors, the new editorial policy is to feature only mass-marketed CDs and DVDs THAT ALREADY HAVE A BIG AUDIENCE. Sure, they’re still judging by the quality of the media, but the first gatekeeper is whether a title is already a best seller. In other words, unless something is already getting lots of plays on iTunes, they simply won’t review it.

I hope you’re incensed about this policy as much as I am.

They’re expressing a typical attitude that I hear often from journalists: “Well, no one really cares about children’s music.” I find this annoying, given the fact that whenever an indie title gets featured on NPR or another mainstream media outlet, the sales for that particular title inevitably jump and parents emerge from everywhere to exclaim about how happy they are to find out about the alternatives to mainstream, commercialized music for kids.

Clearly, there is a demand for high quality music for children. It’s a shame that a non-profit organization such as CommonsenseMedia doesn’t see the value in it.

It’s all about delivering the maximum number of eyeballs to the site, I know. As one performing artist remarked, “ I suppose it’s much easier to cut and paste the consensus than to actually listen closely to something new and formulate an original opinion. However, I think it’s a bit more than that. I think it goes beyond laziness or inability. I believe that there are financial incentives – direct support for not-for-profit organizations that follow certain editorial directives – to support the more popular, better funded projects.”

Essentially the music editor is saying that unless something is already a best seller, they don’t think it’s worthy of attention. I truly don’t get their logic. Coming from an organization whose mission is the following, “Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology” this attitude is especially egregious.

All of you are key players in the indie kids’ music world, and we are all affected by attitudes like the one expressed below.

I’m not sure what we can do about this, but I personally plan to write a letter to the CommonsenseMedia board and directors, to see if they’ll reconsider this new policy.

Best regards, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the moms!

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