Ned Raggett

Ned Raggett

Creating writing about music.

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Access to everything described in the overview!  Feature length pieces on music new and old, reviews, archival interviews, revisited projects -- at least to start with!



About Ned Raggett

Greetings! If you’ve stumbled across my page at random, I’ve been writing about music in one form or another for almost thirty years at a variety of outlets. My (slightly outdated) Contently page will give you a general overview of my work.

As for this open-ended project: ultimately, why not?

Going over the full history of how paid cultural commentary is in crisis is now practically impossible to easy summarize -- whether it’s closing outlets, writing ‘for exposure,’ hedge fund machinations or much more, there’s no need for me to repeat all that. Meantime, enough people I know have committed to a Patreon or Patreon-like model to show results that seem to satisfy them that I figure I’d take a dip into these waters. But to provide some more detail:

  • DO I NEED TO GO THIS ROUTE? -- No, absolutely not. Let me be totally, utterly clear on this point. I have had a full-time (non-writing work) position for many years now, and very fortunately I am well-recompensed given my budget and standard of living. There are many people I can name who do, very much, rely on their music writing work as their primary income, and live much closer to an edge than I have. I would and will never presume to be in their shoes. If you feel your own spare income is better suited for those writers or for other people and causes with a real need, then you should direct your cash there instead, simple as that. This is ultimately a personal experiment and if it turns out to be less successful than it might be, I’ll wrap it up and continue on, and nobody should feel bad for me about it, least of all myself.

  • OKAY, SO WHY THIS ROUTE? -- Per my opening comments, over this decade I’ve gone from a steady freelance side gig at the All Music Guide to a more random (and often very interesting) collage of various writing assignments and pieces to a less-hectic focus where the majority of my work can be found at Bandcamp and the Quietus, both places I’m very proud to be associated with for years now. Not every idea I pitch goes through, of course, and that’s just part of a writer’s life, but it did leave me wondering what more I could do. Meanwhile, I’ve experimented with various personal outlets for my work over time -- my old Wordpress blog, my now very dormant Tumblr -- and I’ve enjoyed it well enough, including some very detailed projects at points. Finally, I’ve mostly used my writing income for either -- unsurprisingly enough! -- music or music-related purchases or when I can, further building up savings, and I would like to continue doing that. Being able to combine all this into one new effort seems like a good idea -- why not, as I say?

  • DOES THIS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT PODCAST? Nope! My Tolkien talk and thoughts will strictly be kept to By-the-Bywater with Jared and Oriana -- but you can always support our home network, Megaphonic, through their own Patreon.

  • WHAT SUPPORT LEVEL AM I ASKING FOR? -- I believe in simplicity here. I’ll set it at $5 a month, flat, for everything I have currently planned. If this turns out to be popular enough to warrant more efforts, and I have a couple of ideas kicking around, including thoughts beyond music, then I’ll consider a higher tier.

  • WHAT WILL I OFFER IN EXCHANGE? (2021 UPDATE!) -- This is where I hope it gets interesting for you! Based on how the first year plus of the Patreon has gone since fall 2019, plus figuring out the best workload after COVID hit in March 2020, I've started 2021 with a new commitment in terms of what's being offered that I think will be a better balance all around:
  • On the public-facing front, I started a daily weekday series that March called Covid Coping, which has turned out to be a handy way to write and think about music via a couple of paragraphs about a particular song or release. Initially conceived more as a chance to focus on soothing/reflective music in that particularly fraught month, it's changed a bit as moods have, but we're all still coping for sure. This will always be free for anyone to read, a bit of a running teaser; while the name may change once we're finally free of things, the basic idea will likely remain.
  • At least one full length 'new' piece a month for subscribers only. An example: part of what prompted this Patreon effort was a comment a few months back after I interviewed longtime Cure collaborator Tim Pope for the Quietus, itself one of several pieces I’ve done on/about the band over time. The comment was along the lines of wanting me to write a book about the Cure -- I honestly can’t see myself doing that but I certainly could do some more in-depth work in general along the lines of my retrospections on The Head on the Door and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, for instance. This series is titled Cure Reflections and its first entry can be read here -- no subscription needed for that piece but you'll need to join for the rest as they eventually follow! At the same time, one can and should engage with the present in whatever form it takes, whether it’s new acts, new releases or new styles -- my Gazelle Twin piece for Bandcamp being a particular effort I’m proud of, as well as my very extensive Algiers piece for NPR. I can’t say if I’ll be able to do quite as thorough a job here as with that latter piece, but one can always try. But it’s more likely that I’ll be approaching things more on an essay/commentary front than an interview, though we’ll see. As a free sample, here's my piece on coming to grips with the disappearance of live music when COVID hit, "Slumbering."
  • Transcribed, previously unpublished interviews from my archive, once a month. This’ll be random, I think, but in a hopefully intriguing way! But ever since the early 1990s I’ve steadily built up a series of interviews with numerous musicians, and while I don’t think I’ve captured anything groundbreaking as a result, I do feel like I’ve had the chance to keep getting better as an interviewer at least. Some of these pieces will be uncut versions of stories that have long since run, but others will have never been seen or were only used for a quote or two in a final piece. I don’t think I’ll have any formal order in presenting them, but again, we’ll see what happens. As a free sample, here's the interview I did with Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev way the heck back in 1993.
  • Revisiting/expanding on past projects, again, at least once a month. The classic example here for me, at least, would be my Not Just The Ticket project from 2010 -- I ended up putting in a lot of time and energy writing fairly lengthy posts three times a week going through all the shows I’d seen or could remember seeing thanks to my old ticket stubs. Since that’s all out there for the reading -- really, you can go here for the whole thing, though it’s in reverse chronological order -- I'm revisting it at a much slower pace, presenting each piece in the series with some extra thoughts, revisions, etc., as well as adding more details via images, links to reviews and footage/recordings and the like. As a free sample, here's the revisited entry for my first time seeing Depeche Mode in 1990.
  • Showcasing 'lost' pieces of mine from the digital ether. As many of us who have written for publications over the last few decades are now very well aware, the destabilization of one's own work is constant, since digital publications can easily disappear and leave no real trace of themselves behind. That's whole tranches of material gone that either can only be found indirectly via print archives or, increasingly more often and more painfully, simply gone for good no matter the best efforts of something like the Internet Archive. (Note to all authors: always back up your own work!) So this will be a chance for me to pull together pieces that are otherwise not readily available anymore. This may be the lightest of all the sections -- it's more likely you'll get two Not Just the Ticket Revisited entries per month than one of those and one of these kinds of pieces I'm talking about -- but I'll add to it as I can find things. As a free sample, here's my thoughts on Love & Rockets's self-titled 1989 album, as I originally wrote about it for Fake Jazz in 2003. 

  • IS THIS GOING TO SUBSTITUTE FOR MY FORMALLY PUBLISHED WORK? Nope, not the plan -- if a pitch I make gets accepted or I’m commissioned to do something, you’ll see it elsewhere, not on the Patreon, but I’ll definitely link to it from the Patreon as well, possibly with some extra information or details that didn’t make the published form.

  • ANY CAVEATS? From a 2021 perspective, my initial plans for the Patreon had to change in the wake of COVID, but so far this has all been rewarding, and given both time commitments and the contraction of the formal music criticism publishing sphere, it has served as a useful outlet. I will freely admit that sometimes time gets away from me, though, and working from home has blended my formal and informal employment spheres in a way that hasn't always been conducive to more work on the latter front. Still, I will do my best!

Thanks very much if you’ve read through all this, and if you’ve decided to join up as a result, I do really appreciate it, and I hope I make it all worth your while.
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 57 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 57 exclusive posts

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