Monday marked the beginning of the end for Halifax-based Canadian music blog herohill. Bryan “Ack” Acker’s morning post detailed with thoughtful retrospection why the prolific blog would be shutting down after 10 years of reviewing and reflecting on music. Acker, who along with Shane “Naedoo” Nadeau ran the site for a decade, announced the swan song, declaring that the coming weeks will feature 10 essays, one for “each of the records that really impacted my life.”
It’s a positive way to say goodbye, but the decision was made after the bloom of reviewing music had gone off the rose. Acker writes: “Writing about music is more of an obligation than anything else. I can’t pinpoint when I stopped enjoying writing about bands, I just know it happened, and no matter what I’ve tried the joy I took from writing is gone.” He continues, “When I first thought about writing this post, I wanted to start naming names. I wanted to call out the shitty publicists, the lazy bloggers and the entitled, arrogant musicians that treated herohill like an unpaid employee.”
Instead, he took the high road and focused on the opportunities that developed for himself and Nadeau. He admits herohill didn’t offer much in the way of compensation, and was an awfully demanding second shift, but in a climate of rapidly shrinking print inches, their long form reviews were a rarity. Contacted after his goodbye post, Acker says, “I will say, when I hit submit, I felt a weight come off my shoulders, but as more and more people reached out ... it was hard not to be sad when we said goodbye.”
Acker and Nadeau are open to other projects, and there’s some melancholy about leaving music behind for now. But herohill couldn’t abide the shift to a click-baited format. “I've given a lot of time thinking about what's next for blogs. Most of the old dogs are retiring, and now, the model is crumbling. With soundcloud and twitter, everyone has instantaneous access to every song that is released,” says Acker. “Music sites should try control the flow coming from the fire hose. Instead of posting every new song you get from PR folks and labels, think about the songs that you really think people should hear, or put time into describing the songs with passionate words.”
“We've moved to a model where people either gush or just shit all over a band. There is almost no middle ground, which is too bad because most bands are average. That's fine for fans, but I'm not sure bloggers are willing to actually go back and learn about the influences that form today's sound or can speak intelligently about it. I get it, it's hard to randomly pick a point and go back, especially when no one getting paid to review music anymore, but I just wished people cared more.
“I think that's the why I can't keep going. I want people to read our reviews and feel like they got new insight into how the songs can make you feel, but most people just want the link.”