Introducing: Give the People What They Want
Most readers of Treble know that we’re an independent publication supported in large part through our Patreon subscribers. And last year, we set a goal of reaching 100 subscribers, with an added incentive for newcomers: If we reached our goal, we’d launch a new essay series on albums chosen by our readers. We discussed it internally just to make sure we were ready to commit to such a project, as well as whether or not enough of us liked the idea or even the ethos behind the idea to pursue it. As it turns out, the response was nearly unanimous among our writers: Definitely, let’s make this happen.
Well, it happened. In December, we reached our goal of 100 subscribers, so we’re making good on our offer and launching the first installment in the series later this month. In asking readers for their suggestions, we only set up a few rules: 1. No albums we’ve written extensively about in the past (though what that means is perhaps up for debate); 2. Only one or two novelty or children’s albums (though Peppa Pig is now a crucial threshold for contemporary music criticism); and 3. There will, ultimately, have to be a ceiling on how many albums we commit to, though there’s no definite end for the series, so it can keep going indefinitely if we want to.
We’ve received dozens of nominations that we’re now combing through and planning, essentially, throughout the year. We only asked for the albums; how we choose to write about them and examine them is entirely up to us, and the results, honestly, will inevitably be unpredictable. In all honestly, this is an experiment. We weren’t sure what music would be suggested to us, whether we had any familiarity with the source material, or how we’d even approach writing about them. As it turns out, it’s all over the map—albums we know and love, albums we like but from artists we don’t know that much about, and some that represent an entirely new avenue of exploration for us. The unknowns are part of what makes this experiment exciting. It’s a challenge to us as writers and as listeners, to tell the stories and dive deep into albums that, by and large, have yet to be canonized.
The list of albums that have been suggested to us continues to grow, and we’re mapping out the schedule of when they’ll all run and who gets to write about them. But we’re excited about where this is going. The title we chose for this series is a little cheeky, but it’s the result of genuine interaction between writer and reader. As an editorial entity with our own mission, direction and aesthetic, having an article series curated by readers is something that we’ve never done before, but we trusted them, and now it’s their turn to trust us in how we put this experiment into action. It’s a little like doing improv with a two-month headstart, or a band playing a set of cover songs requested by their fans. There’s something exciting about giving up a little control for this project, and we’ll see where it leads us. But we hope you enjoy the results. The first piece will go up later this month, and then will continue every couple of weeks. We’re excited to see what happens, and we hope you enjoy the ride.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.