Prog-gate “The Prog Corruption Blog”

I really try to steer well clear of backstage politics in the Prog world. But sometimes things happen on public forums that leave me no choice.

There has been something of a ruction in the community over a mysterious blog calling itself the “Prog Corruption Blog”, which claimed to “try to address corruption, scamming, vote canvassing and poll rigging in the world of Progressive Rock Music as dedicated and professional artists are forced out of popularity polls and charts by PR driven outfits“. There was but a single post, which made the claim that the reader’s poll in Classic Rock Presents Prog had been rigged in favour of Panic Room and The Reasoning, two bands recently signed by Esoteric Antenna. The whole thing reeked of an agenda, and read like the work of someone with an axe to grind against either the bands, the label, or both.

I learned of this blog from a link posted in the comments on another post in this blog, I immediately bought it to the attention of CRPP and two of the bands because I felt they needed to know. To say that there was then a significant sewage/ventilation device interface incident would be an understatement. Certainly some of those parties considered the contents of that blog libellous, and there was talk of lawyers.

A few hours later, after a number of angry comments including some from a member of one of those bands, the entire site disappeared.

If you read the whole thing before it got taken down, it was less an attack on the CRPP Poll, and more a direct attack on the professional integrity of two bands and their record company. There was also an implied personal attack on Panic Room’s frontwoman Anne-Marie Helder, suggesting that she did not deserve the Best Female Vocalist of 2011 award because the band “had played no more than half a dozen pub gigs”. (Obviously untrue, we’ll get to that later)

It’s now being suggested that the author writing under the false name of “Beverly Myers” is in fact male. I’m not going to argue with someone with a Master’s degree in psychology on that point. It’s notable that the (probably male) author adopted a voice that read like a crude caricature of 1980s hairy-armpit feminism to make his dubious points. I now believe he has a misogynistic agenda – not only are two of the bands female-fronted, but the record company is also run by a woman.

Given that the author has lied about his identity, nothing else can be taken at face value. The whole thing is full of distortions, half-truths and outright lies which cannot be put down to mere poor research. It should certainly not be dismissed as “a bit of harmless internet fun” – it’s a clear and deliberate attempt to damage several people’s means of earning a living. It’s already diverted a lot of their time and energy away from creating and promoting their music towards countering these malicious lies.

One of the bands has also dropped hints that they have strong suspicions as to the identity of the perpetrators (note the use of the plural here). While I don’t want to speculate on their specific identity, it does feel like the work of a fan or maybe even a member of a prog band made up of ugly blokes who’s bitter that the record label had passed over their dated 80s-style neo-prog in favour of two bands in question. That would put the sneering references to “bands fronted by pretty girls”, “beauty contests” and “they aren’t proper prog” in to context.

Somehow I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this by a long way.

This entry was posted in Music, Music Opinion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Prog-gate “The Prog Corruption Blog”

  1. Wednesday says:

    After reading your post here, I pulled up the cached version of the blog page in question (nothing is ever really deleted from the internet) and had a read through… it does seem very bitter, but (and this is me playing Devil’s Advocate, rather than saying that I agree with the viewpoint) I can see how “she” could have drawn some of the conclusions, simply because there were some names that appeared multiple times throughout the results, which always makes readers wonder if the results were drawn up fairly and without bias.

    But then, every poll or list drawn as a result of fan-based votes will always come under suspicion – because everyone has different tastes and therefore expects different results… just consider the names in the current top music charts, and see how many of them you agree with, and how many you believe are up there because they’ve had money and top names pushing to get them there, rather than because they are the best of the best.

    The blog is rather unfair and I will state that I don’t agree with it… I thought the results of the polls were good – and was even suprised (in a positive way) to see some names that I didn’t expect to be included. It looks like someone was angry about something and wanted to lash out – and took an ill-advised path, that must have drawn regret as the post did get removed.

    Back-stage politics are an evil in the music industry – I know one band who were “cyber-attacked” by someone intent on sabotaging their FB pages, with the resultant effect on their analytics meaning that their traffic (and subsequent exposure) was massively reduced. But rather than get mad, they turned it around and called on their fans to help them re-raise their page-views… which they couldn’t do unless the fans were genuine and on their side (which they were). This same band are confused that anyone would feel the need to “play dirty” – they see their fellow musicians as siblings rather than rivals, and any positive exposure for another band (particularly in the Prog scene) is a good thing, that scores not just for the genre, but also for small / unsigned bands everywhere.

    It’s such a shame that everyone can’t just Get Along… but I suppose that while some see music as an art-form, others see it as a competitive business – and in the business world, dirty tactics and nasty tricks are weapons wielded by those who know they can’t better others if they play fair.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Polls should never be taken too seriously. They tend to reflect the readership or membership of the publication or organisation running the poll. Panic Room have had a lot of favourable coverage in the past, a lot of their fans read CRPP, so their doing well in the poll isn’t really a surprise. Also Panic Room seem to have an stronger appeal to people who don’t particularly like female-fronted prog in general, which is the most logical explanation for why Anne-Marie Helder keeps winning female vocalist of the year. Apart from her being a great singer, of course.

    And if Panic Room used their social media presence to canvass for votes, I really don’t see what the problem is. Success in music *does* have as much to do with promotion as it does with making amazing music, and anyone who claims that’s cheating is a child. It’s not like we’re talking about mainstream shock-and-awe campaigns for mediocre nonentities who will have 15 minutes of fame then disappear, is it?

    And one thing I need to make clear. Esoteric Antenna are not a “major record label”. As co-proprietor Vicky Powell has stated, they’re part of the Cherry Red group, the oldest surviving independent label in the UK. Given the reprehensible behaviour of the EMI/Sony/WMG/Universal cartel who represent “The majors” in recent years, it’s a very important distinction to maintain.

  3. PaulE says:

    Just in case this isn’t the last we hear of this, or someone else makes extravagant claims about polls or poll rigging – it might be worth looking at what “scientific survey” methods are and why they are used for political opinion polls (rather than the kind of polls CRPP & DPRP had).

    Polling Council

    The whole argument that this Myers blog was making was based on an entirely wrong understanding of polls. Not a leg to stand on before we even got to the factual inaccuracies, timeline issues, or the agenda that Tim has outlined.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    Indeed.

    To do a proper scientific survey of a scene as small as the UK prog scene would require a far more time and effort than anybody remotely sensible would consider worthwhile.

  5. Tim Hall says:

    I have my suspicions over who might be behind this now. I won’t say any more in case those suspicions turn out to be wrong.