Niagara Falls native Adam White is an anomaly. Few people are able to stick out jobs or positions for sixteen or seventeen years, but even fewer are able to stick it out as a volunteer. Since he was 18 (now 35) Adam has contributed to the online daily news site punknews.com, and has gradually moved up the ranks to become the Managing Editor of the site. Recently, White started his own blog, titled someparty.ca, which is a weekly newsletter on independent Canadian rock’n’roll that is rolled out every Sunday. We had the opportunity to talk with White about the early days of PunkNews and what has kept his passion for music journalism going for the past seventeen years.
So for those unaware, can you tell me about PunkNews and how you became involved with the site?
Punknews is a music website that started out of Toronto. It started as a paper zine for a few years and then became one of the first websites on the scene. I read it because, well, in 2001, there was a big ska era and I was looking for news on bands like Less than Jake or Reel Big Fish. So I ended up on there. At the time I was finishing high school, so I had all the time in the world to kill,
Punknews had the advantage of being a first mover in that space. I got involved early and got to know a lot of people and create a lot of connections with musicians and receive a lot of notoriety. Some book that documented the modern punk movement even called us the ‘CNN of punk rock’. I think that was supposed to be a complement, but I’d like to think that a lot of people care a lot about the site. Punknews has gotten by on the basis of volunteers since it started. Punknews laid the ground work for a lot of the money making music websites that are doing things these days.
So, to answer, for the past few years I have been acting as Punknews dad for all the other writers. They’re asking me for advice on the appropriateness of this or that or which band to cover. My name is on the top of the masthead so that gives me some cache for doing nothing. Basically I’m managing the rest of the writers at this point.
So after writing and managing the Punknews website, what made you decided to start a new site in Some Party?
Well, the Internet has gotten increasingly noisy. I don’t really know how someone who is a casual fan is able to keep up with what’s going on. All the bands are putting out information in the same mess as everything else. So, if a band is putting out a new record and you didn’t see the Facebook post or Tweet, it could very easily pass you by. Not to mention that all of that information is competing with 95 per cent of the people complaining about Donald Trump. So, there’s a lot of noise in that communal stream. I was looking at it from a perspective as to ‘what I could do to be useful’, but also create something that could be sustainable as an independent trying to write about the Canadian music scene. So that’s why the weekly newsletter concept makes a lot of sense from that standpoint.
Can you kind of explain what you mean by a ‘weekly newsletter’?
As in, it’s a newsletter that’s hosted on a website? Basically, I’m trying to treat the newsletter as you would an old print zine. You have a set publishing schedule, you know you’re going to put out one a week and maintaining that schedule lets the audience know it’s predictable. They don’t have to worry about missing something I posted on a Thursday night or anything like that. It gives me a means as a hobbyist and independent to create this thing and work my day job. I don’t have to feel the rush to be the first to post news, like other sites. The newsletter approach is intentionally taking my foot off the gas. If people learn about this information at the end of the week it makes no difference in anyone’s day-to-day life, but it’s easier to process and not feel like you’re constantly missing things. That’s what I’m betting on in terms of the format.
So why do you think there aren’t many people blogging in this way anymore?
I’m sure there are tons we don’t know about, but even locally, it’s hard to come across these sites. I still want to feel useful. People think they need to be everywhere and conquer the whole media space and it can become exhausting. I know people that have media properties that they’ve been working on for decades. When you start building something you want it to be perfect. And now, you can’t just have a website, you need the Facebook page, the podcast, the Twitter account and the YouTube page.
You end up running a little media empire, which can be very exhausting if you’re not getting immediate feedback that you’re doing a good job. At some point you have to realize if it’s worth spinning all those plates. If you’re a hobbyist it’s a lot tougher to try and be everywhere. I think if you take yourself out of that game where you’re trying to conquer the world it becomes a more sustainable thing. I imaging that’s why a lot of people don’t do it, it can be discouraging. I’m a couple months into this, and I hope that in its limited way it becomes something sustainable that I can fit into my life.
You can check out Some Party at someparty.ca