There has been a hell of a lot of talk on message boards and chatrooms recently about nepotism. People complaining 'til they're blue in the face about the new breed of online music magazines. It is symptomatic of the new age of media that we have a fast turnaround of ideas and people verbally sparring in defence/attack of the familiar editorial plugging of favourite bands.
In this website/playlouder/NME online/and pretty much every band's own site it is obvious that people are using their position as writers/contributors to champion their own causes celébres over and above the call of duty, and in an "unfair way" in what some people see as an abuse of their power (real or self-imagined).
It seems ridiculous in the cold light of day to hold this attitude towards writers - as though anyone can truly be objective when it comes to such a sticky subject as music. I defy anyone to look themselves in the mirror and pretend that it is the truth that they have never found a friend's band good by virtue of the fact that the band contains people that they like. What influences tastes in all forms of art is split between nature and nurture in equal measures.
For example, I saw a band 3 years ago that I had no time for whatsoever. They failed dismally to pique my interest in any way. I hung at the back of the gig and wrote them off as a poor support to an excellent headline band. By the fickle hands of fate, it transpired that I ended up becoming very good friends with a couple of the members and consequently found myself at a gig recently. The quality of the playing had changed very little and most of the songs were the same(!) However - suddenly it was as if scales had fallen from my eyes, and they became genius. The background to the people onstage and my knowledge of them, their ambitions and their frailties had given me new ears. It even caused me to review them for this very magazine.
What I imagine is that however you feel about certain types of music - whether comedy rap (a la Crack Village) or louche pop (hello Koreans) is your idea of heaven - give bands the opportunity to give what they have, and do not suppose that a group of musicians with friends in the press are crap just because of this fact. Maybe you just don't see it yet. Maybe they are crap, and they have paid a lot of money for that press spin. I have seen so many "signed bands" that I consider terrible live, or boring on record. My opinion is often not shared with the other members of whatever paper I am writing for at the time, and I will not just go with the flow. It is intelligent and lucid editors that keep a light but firm hand on the editorial stance of these journals, as if their was no control, we would never have consistency of content, which is incredibly important when establishing the identity of any magazine.
If you don't like that aspect of a publication, don't read it. Don't whinge like a jealous idiot. My guess is that it is frustated teenage bands that write those kind of angry complaints because they haven't had their puerile efforts written about yet. Sorry, but that's how it goes. Some people like it, some people don't.
Also, most of these writers make friends with bands they like after the event, as the growing process occurs symbiotically: press backs band, band gets press, people like band, people read press, band and press both go interstellar (or that is the theory!)
Three cheers for mates' bands. Word of mouth is a much bigger seller than any press coverage (ask Radiohead), although sometimes it is good to get some idea of what you are investing in when buying the new Mclusky record or Timo Mass remix.
The most important thing with music is use your ears. Make your own mind up, and don't let other people's judgement on something colour yours. Everything has some worth in it, but some people just have more willingness to find that "inner beauty". Doesn't mean that you have to!