Internet Exploring

Take a Look at the World's Most Delusional Music Writer

"I do have a proven track record, and, hey, I'm a Music Editor for a major pop culture Web site. So I must be doin' something right!"

by Slava Pastuk
23 December 2014, 7:45pm

Are you a struggling musician who's looking for that one big break? Have you been unable to find it, in spite of your hours of dedication to your craft? Do you have an extra $300 laying around? Then we have some great news for you! It comes in the form of music writer Zachary Houle, who created an Indiegogo campaign where he will essentially whore himself out to musicians for the right price. Houle is an expert in music, and has been the Canadian Music Editor at PopMatters since 2010. According to Houle, during his tenure he has helped new bands by critiquing them. "In many cases I'm the first professional reviewer with global reach for these bands and musicians," Houle writes on the page for his campaign. "I've received appreciation for my work. It's a good feeling." But good feelings don't pay the rent, which is why Houle is trying to sell his services to anyone with the right budget.

For the paltry sum of $25, you get the luxury of asking Houle five questions via email, which he will then answer with "five thoughtful answers in return" like some sort of niche genie. For $50, you can visit Houle "in a downtown Ottawa coffee shop (I'll consider a phone call,too) for a free coffee, and a one hour consultation on the importance of your online presence, bio, a good press kit and anything else you'd like to yak about." That's right, for the price of a nice dinner, you'll be able to have Houle tell you how important it is to be online—a fact he knows well, as evident by his large Indiegogo presence—as well as any other deep-seated issues you can manage to cram into the conversation before Houle finishes his coffee. For the same $50, Houle will also help you name your band—or if you've already gotten to that part, as it's literally the easiest and most fun, he'll help name your album!

But if you actually want Houle to take time away from his busy life as a music critic and actually listen to your music, it's going to cost you. For $100, Houle will go to your live show and "tell you what I think of your act as a live draw, so long as I'm on the guest list." You may think that this package only extends to local bands, but rest assured that if you send him an email, he'll "muck about and see what my travel and lodging/food expenses might be and get back to ya." Not interested in seeing Houle silently judge you from the back of the venue as you play? Just send him a digital copy of your album and he'll listen to it in its entirety three times from $100-$300, depending on how short you've managed to make it. Houle is busy man, and like most music critics, he is used to recieving hundreds of dollars for every play of his album. As a wise man once said, don't hate the player, hate the game.

For $800 you can have Houle write your biography or your press release, but why bother when you can just get them both packaged together for $1400. And for those of you feeling uninspired, take solace in the fact that you can have Houle compose an entire album fo song lyrics for you for only $1,250. "You don't have to credit me and I'll consider waving royalties," write Houle, "but if you like GbV out there lyrics, I can do that. Ten songs for this price." Listen up, musicians. That's like $125 for a song, you'd be an idiot not to take that.

However, like an actual whore, Houle has strict rules, except his are a little more flexible than "no kissing on the mouth." He includes the warning that states that if you ask Houle for feedback about your music, "that feedback is yours and yours alone. If I find my feedback as a quote in the press anywhere, I will get mad. [...] Seriously, you have to agree to protect my reputation."

Houle's reputation as the Music Editor of PopMatters is clearly important to him, and he's not willing to compromise it. "I will not review your music for PopMatters for cost. If you have a CD out there that you want to promote that is either recent or forthcoming, email me." However, even though this process costs nothing, Houle says the turnaround time is "depending on my availability," so you may see a slower response as this online music critic prostitution thing picks up.

Houle is also quick to not get anyone's hopes too high. "Not every project is a success. There are millions of bands out there wanting to get heard," writes Houle. "But I do have a proven track record, and, hey, I'm a Music Editor for a major pop culture Web site. So I must be doin' something right!" We completely and wholeheartedly agree with you Houle.

It's hard to make money from writing about music. Some may say it's even harder than making money from playing music. People who write about music typically can't afford to do so full-time, which is why many of them have other jobs. There are hundreds of critics out like Zachary Houle, who think their opinions have more value than everyone elses, and if a band were to just listen to their critiques, they would be well on their way to Hollywood. But the difference between those people and Zachary Houle is that they didn't make a Indiegogo page with a menu that's priced beyond what up-and-coming musicians could afford.

Is Zachary Houle a bad person? It's impossible to say. He seems eager, but misguided. He's essentially moonlighting by providing bands with the same sort of advice they could get from a random person on the street by just voicing his opinion, which he has decided to place a dollar sign beside. Music is subjective, and there's very little chance that Houle has his finger to the pulse of music trends living in Ottawa, Canada's sleepy political town. The most problematic thing about all this is that Houle seems to have put a price on everything, as noted by the last paragraph on his campaign's page:

"Also, probably worth mentioning that I plan to tackle assignments on a first come, first served basis. Unless of course you have a deadline, which might result in a request from me to pour some slightly more funding. But we can discuss that, and I'm open to negotiation. Essentially, though, no matter what, I want to be fair."

Don't we all Zachary. Don't we all.

@SlavaP was paid $1200 to write this