Rabid music fans take for granted the instant gratification of MP3 blogs, but it wasn’t too long ago that they had to wait more than a few minutes between reading an album review and listening to that band’s music. The idea started ten years ago when Matthew Perpetua, then a 22-year-old Parsons the New School for Design graduate, founded Fluxblog “on a whim.” His novel website was among the first to post music criticism side by side with the tracks being discussed, so that readers could listen while they read. The model—which was quickly emulated—launched Perpetua’s writing career for publications such as Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, and brought attention to artists he championed. On July 23, Housing Works celebrates Fluxblog’s tenth anniversary by bringing the game-changing site’s format to life. Writers including Rob Sheffield (Rolling Stone), Mark Richardson (Pitchfork editor-in-chief) and Emily Gould (And the Heart Says Whatever), as well as musicians such as Dick Valentine (Electric Six), will each present a song of their choice on which they’ll comment.
“In the earlier days [of Fluxblog] I was writing to my friends as a way of entertaining them,” says Perpetua. “I’ve never been the self-promoter type; it was always just people coming to the site and liking it.” He maintained a small but steady amount of Internet traffic until December 8, 2003, when he posted “Yeah (Stupid Version),” a song by a then-little-known band named LCD Soundsystem. “My numbers blew up,” says Perpetua. “I was the one to get that song out there, and that really put Fluxblog on the map.” Tastemakers from A&R types to DJs and editors began to look to his picks for trends and upcoming talent. For instance, local dream-pop trio Au Revoir Simone (whose member Heather D’Angelo will be at the event) signed a record deal with Moshi Moshi Records after its track “Through the Backyards of Our Neighbors” was featured on the blog.
It helps that Perpetua’s prose—somewhere on the spectrum between music criticism and journal writing—stands out from the pack. “It does the job that my favorite radio stations used to do,” says Sheffield. “It doesn’t just find great new songs, but it looks for interesting connections between songs, between different types of pop thrills, between the past and the present.” Perpetua doesn’t report news, spread gossip or provide ratings, but maintains a virtual spot for music lovers looking to make new discoveries. “Fluxblog captures the feeling of falling in love with a song,” notes Gould. “Many people fall in love with songs very promiscuously, but very few of those people can communicate that love and make it infectious. Perpetua is the best at doing this, possibly in the world.”