Someone named Vaspers asks What will kill the blogosphere? and thinks the answer is various forms of marketing-driven corruption lying in the direction that PayPerPost is pointing. [Update: Good comments; pile on!]
He might have a point. Assaf Arkin agrees, and declares Labnotes to be a Blogstitution-Free Zone. Among other things, he says “I will not blog favorably about a product/service unless I’ll go out of my way to get it with my own money”.
Commercial pressure on blogs is absolutely increasing; I now get story pitches most days from PR folk, in varying degrees of cluefulness. The lamest are something like “In the SOA-driven Web 2.0 era, enterprises need the awesome power of inferential data integration! We have this vital story, straight from the horse’s mouth! And we can adapt it to your blog format for you!”
On the other hand, some are of the form “I’m a PR consultant working for Frowlotron Information Injectors; they’ve got an XML database with a high-performance Atom adaptor, seems like your kind of stuff, want to take a look or talk to our guys?” I usually don’t, but I also don’t object to this kind of approach at all.
By a weird coincidence, I got one this afternoon:
Hi, this is Amy from Buzztone. I enjoy reading your blog and I was wondering if you would be interested in working together in a promotion.
Legendary artist, Yusuf, formerly Cat Stevens, is releasing his first new album in 28 years this week titled "An Other Cup." I believe some editorial or information about Yusuf’s album will be great for your site. I can provide you with digital assets like photos, bio, news release and a CD for your review.
At one level, kind of irritating about how their stuff will be “great for my site”. But the proposition seems straightforward. I wrote back saying “Sure, send me a CD and I might write about it and I might like it, I liked some of Mr. Stevens’ stuff back in the day.”
Amy wrote back:
Hi Tim, That’s fine. I'll send you the Yusuf CD and you can see what you think. I am also including a CD called Rytems Del Mundo which is a compilation of music by big artist like Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, and Sting remixed with an Afro-Cuban sound. It was done by Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo of Buena Vista Social sound. Let me know how you like them and if you end up writing about either of the albums.
If she needs help finding out when a blogger’s writing about her product, a lesson in Technorati 101 would be in order. But still, seems fair enough. And obviously, I like writing about music.
If I write about the music, pro or con, I’d need to disclose that it was a freebie. Professional music reviewers don’t, but that’s fine because we assume they’re all freebies. There’s the potential for corruption, I guess; I might be incented to write glowing reviews of everything so that record companies send me free music. I don’t think I’ll do that, but if I’m transparent enough, my readership is intelligent enough to figure it out one way or another.
So is this just a pleasant perk of having a moderately-popular blog, or am I stepping onto a slippery slope?