Farewell Drowned in Sound— Si Sharp -
Back in 2000, Nick and I started a music site called badvibes. It was designed to be like the music press we understood growing up. We tried to cover everything and felt that we had to dislike stuff and be snarky in order to validate the reviews of stuff we loved. You know… like the NME did. We were determined not to be fanboyish and not to be like ‘blogs’ - the new craze that looked to us (or me, Nick has always been more forward thinking) like online diaries. Why do I care about what YOU think - what’s your qualification? Of course, they didn’t need a qualification. That was the point.
It was fun while it lasted, but we struggled to get enough good writers for free and you know what… we were missing the point anyway. The two decent UK music sites at the time were Playlouder which seemed to follow a similar ethos to us, and Drowned In Sound.
Drowned in Sound was different. It had a secret ingredient, one that we lacked but was the USP of the new blogs - visible enthusiasm. Started by Sean Adams, DiS never seemed to lose sight of the fact that they were music lovers writing about what they loved, not music journalists acting like your cooler big brother which, with hindsight, is what the mainstream music press had become. Consequently the writing was excellent precisely because they weren’t just copying what they’d been brought up on like we were. Music journalism had always been a man’s world and it had picked up some awful male tendencies - ego and competitiveness. DiS managed to avoid this. They weren’t your mate who knows everything about music, keeps track of the stuff he got into before you, and is sneery about what other people like. They just loved music and wanted you to love it too. They embodied the inclusivity and democracy that was pushing the internet forward.
Over the years, it’s always been a nice place to hang out - the content was entertaining and their message boards were a super friendly and informative place to chat, and remain so now, long long long after all the other message boards have been taken down. I went there expecting to find out about new bands. I didn’t expect to be educated about social issues. Much like the NME taught people about anti fascism, I learned about third wave feminism and trans rights there long before they would otherwise have entered my world.
Today Sean announced that the site is effectively ceasing to operate…
“Drowned in Sound will not be commissioning new reviews or features for the foreseeable future.
Our forums will remain (thank you for all the donations).
We will publish some pieces and festival reviews that we’ve committed to on our Medium blog (subscribe for alerts), plus I’ll continue to do some music recommendations on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m also really enjoying doing the weekly recommendations via Facebook Messenger, so I’ll continue doing that for the foreseeable future.”
Sean seemed to have spent years exhausting every avenue trying to keep it going, long after others would have thrown in the towel. So while this isn’t a surprise, it’s still a sad day. We look forward to what Sean does next and from all at Beat Rehab - thanks Drowned in Sound and thanks Sean.