It’s Probably Worth Mentioning That I’ve Been Blacklisted By Warner Music NZ For This Whole Dane Rumble Thing

Dane Rumble

I got blacklisted yesterday by Dane Rumble’s distribution company, Warner Music NZ, in a move which speaks volumes about how things have been going down at their HQ. Damage control. For those of you who haven’t been following this entire thing, Dane Rumble got infuriated with me for something I wrote about him (even though it’s still unclear  exactly what he’s mad about) and consequently threw a tanty and emailed me one of the most ridiculous and unprofessional things someone in his position could possibly send. The post went up and another email subsequently came my way, this time saying that my article was insulting, that I was two-faced and that I’m just having a cry about it on my blog. It’s a storm in a teacup really but dude is pretty much having his Kanye moment over here.

Anyway, I’ve been blacklisted, which means no more interviews with any Warner Music artists again. Maybe it’s the only way they could think of punishing me but it’s a pretty sad reaction to something that essentially stemmed from me doing my job as a writer. Maybe they were still mad at me for posting something on their little Blueprint 3 fuck-up last year, which subsequently got picked up and posted on the biggest hip-hop site on the internet, Nah Right. I don’t know and I’m not too concerned about it. I may not have an audience like New Zealand’s mainstream outlets but it seems that Rumble, his management and Warner are grossly underestimating the amount of people that have seen the post with his email.

I actually had a good time interviewing Rumble – as I said, I found him to be a genuine, likeable guy who had an immensely high tolerance for criticism, which is what has made his reaction so surprising. He was extremely self-aware of how he is perceived in the public eye, which is to say that he’s not necessarily the most loved musician in the country considering the path he’s chosen to go down as recreating himself as a local popstar. The crux that I ended the piece on got at that – “I come from Fast Crew bro” – it felt like he was basically saying, ‘I’ve been through it all before so don’t even think for a second that I’m worried about any of this.’ Maybe I should have just asked him questions like this.


  1. Honestly, I read your piece a couple of times and can’t see what’s so offensive about it. But then, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen in the NZ music ‘biz’ – journalists feel like they should be ‘supportive’ of local artists, which in practice means only ever saying nice things about them in print.

    The labels have come accustomed to interviews which read like press releases. Actually, they’ve come to EXPECT that journalists will act as extensions of their PR campaign. So an article like yours, generally positive but not choking to death on its own hyperbole, sticks out and seems unnaturally harsh, like a personal attack on their art and their livelihood.

    I grew up reading NME, and was disappointed at how sanitised the NZ music press seemed by comparison. Then I convinced a mag to let me review CDs and discovered that if you say a local band’s album was OK-but-not-the-artist’s-best-work, your editor is going to get an angry call threatening to pull advertising if it happens again.

    Threats and blacklists do a great disservice to New Zealand musicians (who are denied opportunities to have their music honestly reviewed and critiqued and discussed, and instead get bland platitudes). It’s a disservice to journalism and to journalistic integrity and credibility. And moreover, it’s a huge disservice to the record-buying public, who should be allowed to read and listen and form their own opinions about who and what to like. Goodness knows magazines have enough ads between the articles these days – the bits inbetween shouldn’t have to be thinly-veiled advertorial too.

  2. I’m with you all the way on this Hussein. RIDICULOUS response from Warners to a straight stupid act by their artist. Let me get this straight:
    Your artist acts like a f***wit, and you blacklist the dude he acted out to? Seriously? That’s your ‘media strategy’? There are good people working at that organisation (most named Nicole), but whoever made that call is as ignorant and short-sighted as Rumble himself. Because this is 2010, and once you get into this kind of a fight two things happen.
    Firstly, the fight goes public, and stays there. Because everything’s traceable and instantly publishable and once it’s out it never goes back. The second thing that happens is that you lose. You lose as a record company or artist because you’ve stepped out of the arena you control (music, promotions) into the one where the journalist or blogger is in control. They’re better at it than you, and they define the rules of engagement. Just real basic stuff, and Dane and Warners messed it up. No big deal, but about now a climbdown from that mountain is in order. Because all you did was your job, and all they did was step way out of line and act like they had a right to be there.
    Hopefully next time this happens they’ll just ignore their artist and get back to work. But they lost here, and you played your hand right man. Good work. Keep it up.

  3. He expected you to kiss ass like every other Journalist has when they have interviewed him. Shame on you for giving a realistic, in depth interview. Shame on you.

  4. If Simon Sweetman can speak openly about whoever the fuck he wants to, then I don’t see why they’d blacklist you for this.

  5. acuitas says:

    Why the surprise?

    Paragraph two of your article is vitriolic and unsubstantiated with little discernible connection to what comes before or after it.

    If you insist on writing a diatribe masquerading as ‘journalism’ don’t be surprised if the subject takes it personally.

    It’s blatantly obvious that your article is ENTIRELY personal.

    It’s ironic you are now blaming Dane (and Warners) because they had the audacity to reciprocate.

  6. how do you think he gets his hair to stand up like that ?

    also yeah its lame.

  7. acuitas is otm

    If you’re not a fan of an artists you’re “interviewing”, it shouldn’t be so blatently obvious in your work. Scathing coments like your final sentence are un-necassary.

    I haven’t heard any of his work but if i were in your shoes i would try my best to let the public make up their own mind; inlcuding as much of an hour and a half interview(!?) as possible.


  8. @acuitas – Why would the article I write be ENTIRELY personal when I had never met the guy? It’s a foolish assumption to think that I ever held a grudge against him. Also, I don’t think you understand the meaning of vitriolic. I stand by what I wrote about Cruel not being as strong as his other singles, and the fact that it sounds jammed together with the rap in the third verse. There is actually a non-rap version of the song (which you can hear on his MySpace) which proves that point.

  9. Get at Diablo, he’ll dish u some good shit on Dane.

  10. Merlin says:


  11. blackeyes says:

    Just because he didn’t get an easy ride (like he kinda did in Timeout – no offence to Scott Kara’s work, I like his stuff) he throws a wobbly? Welcome to a discerning music press/the real world. If he was overseas he wouldn’t get anything less than a full reaming, to be fair. I kinda liked how he came across in the piece – like he had some perspective and a sense of humour after Fast Crew. Oh well.

    Blacklist seems a stupid move for damage control, just stirs up what was really a storm in a teacup. Artist should have never hit send on that. I think an artist is perfectly entitled to disagree with their portrayal in the media (though they gotta remember it’s like a funhouse mirror, always a little distorted), but putting a little thought into his reply could have made it a dialogue rather than mudslinging.

    @acuitas – “diatribe” is ridiculous. Also, since when has music journalism not been a hugely subjective branch of the profession? Wake up.

  12. curley weaver says:

    As a journalist, I strongly support with Petra Jane’s comments above: the music journalist is NOT in the business of writing PR for the record company. The writer’s first responsibility is to their readers. The writer should be honest and, hopefully, provide the reader with some new insights or information.

    I can see why Hussein was a little surprised by the response he got from the subject and his record company, and it’s hard to know which particular details caused offense. Reading the article it appears the writer has been upfront about what he perceives as the weaknesses of Rumble’s third single and he gives Rumble the right of reply. He also notes that Rumble seems ready to be criticised for his pop aspirations and his responses to the criticisms seem reasonably good-humored.

    Sure, Hussein’s tone is sceptical – you can tell he’s not a fan. But I’ve read far more hostile profiles before. If the article has a fault it is that it is not really long or detailed enough to fully explore the issues it raises i.e. why is an aspiring pop star seen as having less credibility than an aspiring indie or underground artist?

  13. You guys are all awesome. I think you guys should all give more opinions because we all really care.

  14. Congratulations, Dave! You just defined the internet. Now fuck off.

  15. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

    @Mick – You’re a little misinformed here. Especially considering that you admit “I haven’t heard any of his work but if i were in your shoes…” Come on bro. Also, the interview barely scraped an hour and it was actually pushed back three hours on the day by Rumble because he had to deal with a personal issue.

  16. the article was more like a review than an interview-based feature. Usually a feature is more ‘show don’t tell’ so maybe that’s why it’s feels vitriolic, because the writer’s opinion is worn on his sleeve. Hard to flesh it out, of course, when an interview doesn’t yield enough insights/garish tour stories. And granted it can be mad frustrating how many idiots get lauded as dons in NZ. But there could’ve been a different way to paint him as a caricature.
    And BTW, what’s up with Auckland beef? there’s always some stewing in the pot.

  17. Hussein u don’t deserve to get emails like that from NZ artists – there ain’t no status thing in NZ music – well not in my eyes. Rumble don’t deserve u man.

  18. Andrew says:

    @ acuitas: even if the article was how you describe (it wasn’t), to send an e-mail like that is immature and unprofessional.

  19. Andrew says:

    When I read a review or an interview, I want it to be impartial. I don’t want some sycophant writing a 1,000-word advert for the guy. Of course, thesedays if anyone dares say anything negative, they are accused of ‘tall poppy syndrome’ (because everything Kiwi is great, right?), and blacklisted by the company. In terms of this kind of journalism, one recent example that comes to mind is when Karen Walker was interviewed on Sunrise about Topshop coming to New Zealand. The entire sigment was “hooray, Topshop is coming”. Not one single question on the sweatshop labour accusations that has been all over the UK media. “Celebs” need to realise that nothing they do is private. Pity for him if this ruins his highly-manufactured image. The irony is, a “beef” with a journo would have given him hip hop cred when he was going through that phase (add it to the list of hip hop cliches, along with the accent, clothes and auto-tuner). Sadly, this week he’s a pop-rocker. Opera next week, perhaps?

  20. Merlin says:

    I think you have all overlooked something …..the article was just so totally boring and uninformative (I had to read it after you were all going on so much about it).
    Arn’t journos supposed to ‘find angle’s and at least write something that keep us humble readers interested ..or in this case, awake?
    I believe that Nz has only a handful of TOP SHELF music journos – Graham Reid being #1 – who can write a story on picking his nose an interesting read, and in no particular order, Russell Baillie,Troy Ferfusson, Stinky Jim, Jeff Neams and current Real Groove Editor Sam Wicks (whose Radio NZ pieces were outstanding). Duncan Greive? Yes – but sometimes got too personal instead of objective.
    My point? ….just please write articles that are at least half decent. I’d be pissed off as well if you spoke to me for over an hour and a ‘nothing’ piece was the result of that hour.

    Oh well …back to my Q Mag ….

  21. Andrew says:

    @ Merlin

    1. Your personal opinion of the article is irrelevant (personally, I have read some utter crap by Russel Baillie – which is again irrelevant). What is disturbing is Rumble’s cry-baby tantrum (and the subsequent actions of Warner) and unprofessionalism. But say Graham Reid did write a masterpiece of an article on Rumble – that wasn’t too flattering – and Rumble reacted the way he did. What would you have to say then? This is about the ‘celeb’ and the ‘praise us or get blacklisted’ attitude of the record company, not the journo.

    2. Rumble obviously has time to waste because he appeared live at a nude wedding on Sunrise, (in front of about 30 people, none of whom were looking at or interested in him), and he gives interviews to kid’s websites (see link in main article above to Kimberley Crossman’s page). So he, and those who pull his strings, obviously have the attitude of ‘any publicity is good publicity’. Until now, perhaps.

  22. Merlin says:

    Andrew – you obviously have way too much time on your hands if you are watching nude weddings on TV3 and reading kids wedsites! But thats cool …
    The unprofessionalism, in my opinion and probably the opinion of most people who have half a educated brain, has to come from Hussein who brought this into the public arena in the 1st place.
    A Graham Reid he will ever be. Even if Graham had written a piece that wasn’t the most flattering – at least it would have been interesting!
    Anyhow – back to my Q Mag which is an INTERESTING read.
    Oh – I forgot to add that I think Martin Pepperel is a great writer as well.
    Hapy days.

  23. Merlin says:

    ..I meant ‘A Graham Reid he will NEVER be’. My bad ..

  24. Andrew says:

    Merlin: really? You don’t think it was even slightly stupid of Rumble to send something like that to a journo and think it WOULDN’T get posted online or into the newspapers? ‘Celebs’ (attention-seeking whores they are) need to realise that everything they do is in the public domain. I’m not condoning the paparazzi, or saying we should follow him around with cameras, but to send an e-mail like that TO A JOURNO and not expect it to go any further? Is he thick or what? I don’t think Hussein is being unprofessional at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. His profession is to provide an insight into what these musicians are like, what they’re all about, what they think, how they tick – surely that is POINT of interviews? This one line e-mail from Rumble does exactly that and speaks volumes about the man. Namely that he’s a twat. But even if I were to concede that Hussein was unprofessional and shouldn’t have published this e-mail, it doesn’t detract from the underlying point – that Rumble’s actions, and those of Warner (akin to a facist dictatorship – “don’t dare criticise us or else you’ll get blacklisted”) are unacceptable and juvenile. And no matter how many red herrings you throw out there (the article was boring, Hussein was being unprofessional, all of these writers are better than Hussein, I’ve got a hard-on for Q Magazine, etc…), or how many snarky and arrogant comments you make about ‘people who have half an educated brain’… NONE of this removes the fact that Dane Rumble and Warner acted like twats. And I hope you’re now prepared for more lame one-sided sycophantic stories from journos too scared to pass serious judgement or ask the hard questions for fear of being excommunicated by record companies.

  25. Merlin says:

    …you are obviously a Philosophy student ….only philosophy students use words like ‘twat’, ‘hard-on’ and ‘facist ‘dictatorship …and watch nude weddings on TV3 and kids websites …
    I’m reading Mojo now …

  26. Andrew says:

    BAM – another totally irrelevant (and inaccurate) point. By the way, you’ll notice that I actually said I was watching Sunrise (I don’t choose their content) and the ‘kids websites’ (singular, actually) I visited because I clicked the link in above blog – the very blog that you’re reading, so what does that make you? And Dane Rumble was playing at the nude wedding, so what does that make him? But bringing up education, vernacular, vocabulary and what I watch on TV is another fantastic example of one of your little red herrings, which completely avoids the issue in question. I look forward to your next post, which will presumably tell me what you are having for dinner, as well as making some other wide-of-the-mark assumption about me (maybe my age, eye colour, occupation, or the car I drive?) and will say nothing about this blog, Dane Rumble, or Warner… Eddie Izzard does a character named Captain Non Sequitur. Pretty sure he’s based on you.

  27. blackeyes says:

    agreed the quality of the writing’s not really the issue in this instance, plus it’s really early days for Hussein so far. I really enjoy his blogging personally, and think he’ll write some great features given time. not surprised this ain’t your thing if you’re into Mojo/Q/Graham Reid/paleontology/anotherarticleabouttherockcanonyawnthanksforwritingatextbookinsteadofrockjournalism. though that’s not the point either.

  28. Merlin says:

    Yes – I hope Hussein will write some great features in the future. He will need to learn to curb his ego and work on his professional relationships however otherwise he will spend the rest of his days writing for Tiny Tots Magazine as no-one else will want the association with him.

    Record companies protect their artists – thats what they do. If they feel that one of their artists is being personally attacked they are well within their rights to intervene.
    No doubt you will counter argue – but thats cool.

  29. Inigo_Montoya says:

    Totally disagree with your comments Merlin.

    Hussein’s review is neither personal nor egotistical in it’s tone. It’s informative, balanced, articulate and well-considered, IMO. Infact, after reading Hussein’s words, I actually started to have more respect for Dane Rumble than previous. Hussein’s review actually made me sit and take notice of Dane Rumble, whereas prior to the review, I had very little interest in Rumble or his music. Ironically, any new respect for Rumble that was garnered by Hussein’s writing was immediately destroyed by Rumble’s own embarrassing response.

    And still, no one has pointed out why Hussein’s article is so ‘offensive’ or ‘objectionable’ (including yourself), or presented a convincing argument to support this.

    The only offensive, ego-driven material I’ve read is Rumble’s retort, which screams ‘tantrum’ and reminds me of Miley Cyrus’s rant about Radiohead a little while back. Both Miley and Rumble have three things in common: overreaction, lack of judgement, and a distinct lack of knowing which battles to fight and die for.

    Rumble appears to be easily offended – because he’s clearly choosing to take offense where there is none present – especially baffling considering the positive tone of Hussein’s interview. Warner’s knee-jerk response is also incredibly short-sighted, and makes me wonder where they left their critical faculties.

    Which leads me to ponder this: How will Dane Rumble respond to this album review by Simon Sweetman:

    I sense that more toys are going to be thrown of Dane Rumble’s cot…

  30. Peanuts says:

    Graham Reid is a pompous idiot, the last thing the world needs is more music writers like him. He does like to make anonymous comments about himself though, so, he probably wrote that thing about him being the number one journalist. Douche Bag!

  31. while i’m massively late to the party here, i’d just like to put it out there that Q magazine is not some iron clad truth spewing bible – it’s a PR catalogue. it’s a PR catalogue that i enjoy reading sometimes, but i can’t believe anyone would think it’s as writer-opinion-dominated as the NME or pitchfork or etc

  32. Stevo says:

    Just read the original article etc. It took a few cheap shots but overall was pretty boring – I’m kinda with Dane on this one. Writers who express an opinion, like Moses, are fair game for a response so don’t be so sensitive when you get one – or maybe this is more about trying to milk a one line email for your own profile?

  33. Merlin says:

    @#32 Stevo
    YES! Nicely put.
    My sentiments exactly.

  34. ohhh didnt you know talking about marijuana and how horrible someones song is doing is the new thing in interveiws?

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