It's with feelings of sadness, regret and a strange sense of relief that I share the news that I've decided to put the "closed" sign on Direct Current. It's been a long, wonderful and occasionally bumpy ride over all these years. My love of discovering new artists and new music is still as strong as ever. But the reality of what it takes to keep the site running (not to mention finding any semblance of financial reward) has become an all-consuming effort of time and energy. Neil Young once sang "it's better to burn out than fade away." More power to him.
I'm proud of how the site has developed, of the thousands of posts on new and interesting artists that have been generated over the years, of the great feedback I've received from readers and supporters of Direct Current.
I've often said I wanted to make a site that I would personally want to frequent. I know I've accomplished that. But I also know that the things that I would need to do to bring in more eyeballs -- and/or revenue -- to the site would be too depressing, too time consuming and too expensive to undertake. Unfortunately, searching for, discovering and writing about artists just because you find their music interesting or appealing doesn't work as a business model. And, to be perfectly honest, it probably never should have.
I've also seen what's happened to other music sites that I respect and read regularly, like Rolling Stone, Paste, Stereogum, etc. The mindless fawning over celebrity, the playing up of pseudo controversy and fake "news" for marketing and publicity purposes, the endless milking of informational and promotional teases, the pay-for-play business model of sponsored content, the relegating of intelligent, compelling music to fit into some kind of lifestyle headline. I understand why things are the way they are. Why generating creative content like manufacturing shiny new objects to catch someone's eye is the new normal.
After weeks of soul-searching, I've simply come to the clear-eyed realization that the ongoing effort to remain relevant in a world of "look at me!" web presence and the impending painful slog to get there is just too much to take on at this point. I've been doing this long enough without financial reward to know that money is not driving the decision. I guess I just want to spend my time and energy in a new way. No regrets for the past, no fear of the future. I feel incredibly lucky to have heard and shared so much great music doing DC. Most of it by artists I never would have discovered otherwise.
I've witnessed plenty of change in the industry over the years. The collapse of music retail. The fading of record labels and radio as the primary discoverers and presenters of new and interesting artists. The amazing influence of what's "trending" in the social media universe. The shift from buying music to streaming on Spotify and Pandora. The comatose state of the album as a long-form creation. The remarkable rise of fan funded musical projects. Change, to state the obvious, is inevitable. Much of it is great and mind-boggling. Some of it is mind-numbingly depressing.
Now I realize that the next change that I'll experience will be a bit more personal. It's time to take a break, venture outside for some fresh air, call some friends to chat and move on to something new. I'll still be looking for great new artists to listen to -- I just won't be doing so under a deadline. At 3am. Eyes crossed. I think I'm OK with that.
So a massive thank you to the thousands of DC readers and supporters, to the labels and companies that have supported the site and, most importantly, to the many gifted singers, songwriters and bands who have created and shared their music with us. As I said at the outset of this little e-pistle, it's been a wonderful and ride. Thanks for coming along.
Dave @ DC