Let's say you're a music blogger, as I am and countless numbers of you out there are. Let's say you receive some free tickets in exchange for checking out a particular artists' new album and writing a review of it. Starting December 1st, the Federal Trade Commisson will be imposing an $11,000 fine onto any blogger who does not actively disclose "whether or not they received payments or free goods in exchange for reviewing products."
I have some issues with this.
Firstly, I understand the FTC's reason for doing so on a superficial level. Understandably, they are the commission in control of traded goods. If I, as a music blogger, receive money in exchange for a review I write, that is analogous to payola, a practice that has been illegal--but not adhered to--for decades. It does not permit an equal marketplace, nor a free exchange of ideas to music consumers. But that's not the real issue here.
The real issue at stake is the fact that the blogging world is yet again being blamed for the music industry's mismanagement of its own business. Today, as it was announced that Condé Nast will be shutting down Gourmet
Magazine and two other monthlies, bloggers' roles in indirectly fueling the demise of the print media industry was again called into question
. And since music bloggers' have long been held accountable for the running aground of the dismal music industry, why not hold them accountable like one would hold a journalist?
In short, because most of us do this for the love. We are not journalists. Most of us are not paid for what we pour our hearts, souls, and countless nights after our "real" careers are over for the day. Many of us start blogging not to get goods, but just to have more access to the music that changes our lives on a daily basis. If goods are to be had, it's icing on the cake, but the real culprits should be those people who are employed as the music industry's essential yet ancillary staff--journalists, DJs, program directors--who get paid but still want more money in exchange for playing a song or writing a favorable review that not on par with their true opinions.
For the record, if the FTC wants for a blogger such as myself to disclose the free CD I got in exchange for my consideration of writing an honest review, then so be it. But until the time comes when I get paid--well enough to sustain my existence--for what I love to do or until the same people who sponsored this legislation feel free enough to disclose the monies they have received to the American public in exchange for voting favorably on a particular bill, then I'll keep right along doing what I love to do. And I'll keep raking up circles under my eyes in exchange for following the music that I will never fall out of love with.
"How Will Music Blogs Deal With The FTC's New Disclosure Guidelines?"