Fans as Import/Export Mavens

A topic I find increasingly fascinating (and which I am working into a proper research project about), is the role of fans in the export of Swedish music, particularly indie music. This is one manifestion of a much broader trend in which volunteer fans are serving a new (international economic) role in promoting entertainment media across international boundaries.

One example of this is the blog SwedesPlease, by Craig Bonnell whom I interviewed here. Another is Its A Trap, an all purpose news blog, mp3 blog, record store, record label, message board (to which I sometimes contribute record reviews and mp3 blurbs), you name it run by Avi Roig, who is up there in an elite class of music bloggers to whom artists and labels need to attend.

I keep meaning to interview him myself, but in the meantime, here is a nice interview with Avi (originally done for the Swedish press, here in unedited English form). It’s interesting background on Its A Trap and on his take on the increasingly chic Swedish scene (paging Peter Bjorn and John, of whom I can honestly swear to being an early adapter). Here’s a couple of bits about IAT in particular:

How long have you been running itsatrap?
Since September 2002. It’s been slowly getting more and more time consuming ever since.
You have to remember that it wasn’t always so easy to find information about Swedish music online – there was no myspace back in the day and a lot of bands didn’t even have websites, much less ones in English. I saw my mission as a challenge and still do to an extent. How is it that some American kid who barely can read Swedish (me) can track down all the latest music news much better than the local press? It defies all logic and I love it.

How many visitors do have?
It varies quite a bit, but I typically see something close to 3k per day at my most recent count. You must consider however, that it’s not always about how many people you reach as long as you reach the right ones. That’s something I feel I do very well.

I agree that defies all logic and is something to really love about the internet that someone like him can do what he does with the level of success I think he achieves.

It seems like there used to be some really clear boundaries: Bands had a presence that was controlled by their label, with which they generally played along, then they had a presence that was created by the professional music press and professional radio programmers (ok, there was college and sometimes community radio). And then there were the fans who bought it and dug it and did their own social things with and around it, but who generally didn’t have much ability to promote it outside of their own immediate social circle. And we didn’t have international instant easy free publishing media. But now we do. And one consequence (of many) is that fans are serving as cultural ambassadors and promoters, exporting music across national boundaries by writing about it, posting it, explaining the networks of relationships behind it, and doing it in English (many, if not most, Swedish indie bands sing in English). As I say, I’m on the cusp of plunging into a deeper analysis along these lines (with Robert Burnett), so any thoughts you have on this topic — general or specific, background, references — are most appreciated.

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