What to expect from music journalism in 2019 and the years to come?
2019 was (again) no easy year for journalism in general and also for music journalism. In German for example we lost (and reflected about it on the german kaput page) the print editions of Intro, Spex, Groove, to name just a few; in the UK the once unbeatable NME went down. Well, and it does not look like that the economic and cultural climate will change soon, more of those old dinosaurs face their entry on the list of extinct species.
For those of us still believing that (cultural) journalism is an achievement of the enlightened, civilized world we don’t wanna miss under any circumstances (like we at Kaput do), this means to work even harder on what could be a strategy to confront all negative impulses. But of course this is not a thing happening in a isolated, theoretical vacuum, cultural journalism is most of all an interaction with others and therefor we at Kaput are curious to hear the thoughts of the people we share our cultural community with: the artists, label owners, pr folks and music lovers. Coming from that we asked a handful of inspirational people those four questions:
- What do you expect from music journalism in 2019 and the years to come?
- Please name your favorite music journalistic media right now? Why so?
- What’s the one music journalistic article, podcast, video editorial, instagram post, twitter post … that made the biggest impression on you in 2018?
- Whats your record of 2018?_________________________________________________________________________________________
General Manager Beggars Group Germany
More analysis, more background, less advertorials please (unfortunately this is all wishful thinking as it will be going just the opposite way I am afraid…)
Linus Volkmanns Pop-Kommentar at Cosmo TV, funny but mostly very true. Exemplarisch.
There are two: “Spotify as a label” on Music Industry Blog & “Betreutes Raven in Budapest” on Das Filter.
Good read on the development of „for free“ culture from magazines to festivals (here: in a right wing populist environement)
There are 3: Kamasi Washington „Heaven and Earth“ / Die Nerven “Fake” / Gudrun Gut “Moment” ((I only heard “Baby I can drive my car” – in Saudi Arabia – when sending in my answers as the album won’t be out before Dec 7th, but I know it’s going to be great as it also features a coverversion of David Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”).
More do-it-ourselves zines. Small runs, deep conversations.
The creative independent. A favorite online resource for artists, thinkers, freelancers and anyone still curious. Every conversation I’ve read there has proffered a piece of advice I’ve kept with me long past scrolling.
“Financial planning for creative people” by Ally-Jane Grossan on The Creative Independent.
Ursula K Leguin & Todd Barton‘s “Music and poetry of the kesh” for personal reasons. I am grateful to have played a role in sharing a project from Ursula’s oeuvre. Creating a video response with someone special to me. And working with my favorite people on realizing the album for a new time before and after Ursula left for another place.
Secretly Group – Label Manager Germany & Austria
I would love for music journalism to finally make the move to the online wold and find new, more interesting ways to tell stories and use the full potential of possible and soon possible formats.
Nothing but Hope and Passion, because they feature news, reviews, interviews, but also longer and artist written articles.
Lauren O’Neill on “Women In Rock” Is Dead; Long Live Women In Rock” has just recently been published and it resonates with me, because on the one hand I’m super happy, that women in music are being prominently featured and acknowledged in media, but then again I’m hoping that we will soon get rid of the label itself and can finally refer to everyone as musicians, no matter the gender (orientation or skin color for that matter).
Current Joys „A Different Age“
DJ / Labelowner Offen Music
I expect it to stay, which probably means that someone has to pay for it, so that people can stay independent, learn, get better, and not turn into copy/paste automatons.
Musings… group on Facebook.
Because it’s a gathering of nice people who bring the news (and comments) from different sources.
Pamela Anderson Twitter account.
There was so much good music in 2018, but the first album that comes to mind is Teresa Winter „What The Night Is For on The Death Of Rave“. Also new music by Geins’t Naït & Laurent Petitgand „Make Dogs Sing“ on Offen Music.
Open Source Festival / Carhartt WIP
I expect newness, critical reflection, change of perception and most important in times of algorithms and never ending auto playlist: great curation.
No matter if printed, via social media, websites and blogs, broad-or podcasted.
Del Slappo: „Imao Kanye´s iPhone password is 000000“
When it comes to mind blowing Albums iI feel 2018 wasn’t the strongest year. Anyway I cant break it down to one – here`s my top five:
Yves Tumor „Safe in the Hands of Love“
The Internet „Hive Mind“
Anna Calvi „Hunter“
Parquet Cours „Wide Awake“
Communication for culture and art, free agent.
Farewell Spex, Intro, Groove… no matter who or what is to blame for this tremendous loss, one thing is clear, someone has to continue to take over, not only music selection, but also the social and cultural discourse. To keep on reflecting the complex issues of our time, meandering through the growing flood of cultural, technological and political developments. This task will be done not only by algorithms and fast moving social media channels, but, in the future, it will take independent people and communities to use their profound knowledge of pop music in journalism. For me investigative and independent journalism is an integral part of our democracy.
The editors of Das Filter have been working for years or even decades in the field of music and journalism. Some of the contributors also shaped other excellent magazines such as De:Bug, worked for music distributors and labels or are musicians and cultural scientists. They show attitude, they are curious and they dare to look beyond the horizon.
Besides listening to good music I am really interested in news, analysis and debates and, as I work a lot in front of the computer, I cherish the moments when I can close my eyes. For that reason, I very much enjoy podcasts by NPR.
Others to name: The New Yorker, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Wired.
Another good place for me to discover great music – curated by humans, not by algorithms – is NTS Radio.
And I guess the most interesting corporate publishing platforms, in terms of music and pop culture, are Red Bull Music Academy and Electronic Beats.
Generally I follow the cultural section of the big newspapers and magazines like The Wire, Missy Magazine – and TAZ.
Demdike Stare “Passion”
Verlagsleiter Heyne Hardcore & Encore/ Sänger Fuck Yeah
More fragmenting and specializing for niche circles, mostly online. Back to fanzine style blogs. Mainstream music journalism is pretty much dead, everything seems to be said and done. Infotainment and the latest PR-related half page press coverage is irrelevant. Radio and podcast will grow. Mixing music with literature, art, lifestyle and politics in an entertaining and undogmatic way is something I’d like to read more.
I’ve got some nerdy websites like dangerousminds.net or facebook pages (Zuendfunk Neigunxsgruppe) or personal friend’s blogs and posts (Eric Pfeil, Kai Keup) that I like to read and follow.
I barely follow the big magazines or websites anymore as I can’t find much heart and soul and will to discover new exciting stuff.
I always love to read Eric Pfeil’s Pop-Tagebuch column for Rolling Stone.
It’s fun, surprising, well-written, informative, undogmatic and geeky. And it includes great links.
Jesper Munk “Icebreaker” / Okkervil River “In the Rainbow Rain” / The Idles “Joy as an act of resistance”
Maurice Summen (Staatsakt)
Is a musician and autor, runs a label and loves the life he lives.
And help to free the ghosts of hauntology.
The only weapon is enthusiasm. And always remember: Even the Rolling Stone magazine started as a self published fanzine…
Wire-Magazine. There is no freedom in music (journalism) without Free Jazz.
Jens Balzer in Die Zeit-Online about German Twitter-Band The Screenshots.
Would not have recognized this fantastic band without his review – even I am on twitter!
International Music „Die besten Jahre“
Oli Isaacs (This is Music limited)
Managing Director This Is Music Ltd
Music journalists have always been tastemakers and that doesn’t change. Journalists choose what is in vogue to a large extent – sometimes creating the demand but oftentimes simply responding to something which is already there. It is the audience that has changed in my view and commercial outlets for music journalists have adapted to the whims of the audience. Overall people don’t have as much attention span. This is for a number of reasons which are all related to media and the way we consume media. Firstly fragmentation: there is so much noise (everyone with a phone is a content consumer but also a content producer) coming at us through the distribution channel of our devices through the filter of media and social media so we are constantly distracted.
Secondly, and possibly partly because of this, we’re as time poor as we have ever been and media has shape shifted to supply what we want (news/content/information) to fit the limited time we have.
How does this impact on music writing? The money is not in the writing. It’s in clicks and data. To want to write properly is to want to be a craftsperson, a wordsmith, a story teller, an artist even? To tell a story that isn’t click bait or a photo or a video story requires a degree of intellect and application that most media channels don’t require from their content producers. The days of “Rolling Stone” in the late 60s/early 70s were already super ceded by the simplicity and immediacy of television in the 80s (MTV!) but the fact that we now “read” our music content on our phones via twitter or whatever doesn’t bode well for anything complex.
So my main expectation is more short form “content” with a visual element to it. This will promote music that has a strong visual brand and journalists will be a significant channel for communicating those brands’ messages to the public. This means a more hiphop, more pop music and less column inches (or photo stories) about very niche genres or non niche “middle class” of artists occupying the centre ground of indie and rock. That gives rise to an opportunity in the under represented areas that those publishers who care to could exploit but that opportunity is going to be only taken by a few authentic voices writing for publications who have a relevant audience.
Additionally a big point is that typically in the past taste making journalists could turn you on to the music by choosing to write about or review it. The recommendation of a trusted magazine or writer was often enough to sell the record to the right people and they could then carry the message to friends and peers for whom they played it. There is less need for this any more as all music is accessible to all immediately. We get our recommendations by algorithm not from the reviews section of the NME or Jockey Slut. And the time between reading and hearing has evaporated. We read articles or tweets on the same devices we hear the music on at the same time that we listen.
So how are journalists still tastemakers? There are artists who never receive so much as a paragraph of proper “music journalism” that have built genuine streaming fan base and even ticket selling fan base. These are simply not artists beloved of tastemakers – in fact it maybe that people with taste do not like them at all. The relative success of these Spotify artists are evidence of journalists having changed its role from gatekeepers of discovery to arbiters initially of “cool” and latterly of reporters of success notifying the uninitiated that they have missed something that has grown in relevance or simply audience.
Regardless of how easily circumvented critical media can be by streaming, music journalism does have a role to play in breaking new artists. Typically now successful journalists frame the conversation through the content they produce and are indeed voices that “fans” follow lending a filter to cut through the noise. By deciding who or what to write about they create a self fulfilling prophecy adding the weight of media buzz to discovery by Spotify algorithm.
I would like to listen to more podcasts interviewing interesting artists talking about music and culture – but there are so few genuinely interesting adn thoughtful artists who would work well in this format. We have lost some of the mystique of the artist through constant over sharing and ease of access.
Dummy has just relaunched and seems really fresh. They cover a very diverse range of new music in an easy to receive format.
I also love the brilliant variety and depth of NTS‘s radio channels which really succeeds in pushing artists/musical genres that aren’t covered much elsewhere.
Resident Advisor continues to own dance music journalism because of both their editorial angle and the quality of a lot of the more in depth writing.
I rarely if ever read reviews but occasionally when some one who can string a sentence together writes for P4K I might read one of theirs if I care about the artist. I do wish people would abandon any kind of scoring system on reviews.
Like a lot of people I follow a ton of IGs and twitter feeds further fragmenting my media experience.
I read the Music Redef mailer most days. It’s a curated and editorialised list of content and almost always contains something of interest.
So hard to say as I am listening to so much varied music! And I´ve moved away from playing albums over and over and now build playlists from streaming tracks. Honestly have listened to Paul White‘s album and Roosevelt‘s albums the most but I manage them so gonna go for Michal Turtle‘s archival reissue on Music from Memory: „Return to Jeka“.
In case you are interested these are my favourite 2018 playlists (that I made)
Resident DJ at Public Records NYC and partner in Throne of Blood Recordings, Kingdoms, and Passé Publishing.
I look to music journalism to learn and discover things I know little about. I care much less about criticism than I do analysis and exposition and I hope for more and better in the future.
I really enjoy Kaput (I know… I know).
I enjoy it for the breadth and depth of coverage and the fact that I am often unfamiliar with the subject matter. Other sources I like: The Quietus, testpressing.org, and banbantonton.com
Maybe not the MOST impactful, but the most recent thing that made me think a lot: Dylan Miller about “Black Sky Thinking – Why We’re Investigating Extreme Politics in Underground Music” on The Quietus.
A nearly impossible question… The thing I’ve gone back to the most will have to be the one I select:
“Uneven Paths” compilation by Raphael Top Secret on Music From Memory.
I am not sure how to answer this question, I think it has a bit to do with the bigger question:
how important is music going to be in an ever changing world, what role, will music play for people?
The big questions you know!
As someone, who grew up in Eastern Germany, with a complete lack of cultural stimulation, I embraced music in all forms as a very personal experience, a relief, an escape, a kick of passion and excitement that thanks to some heavy indoctrination by DIY & Punk and Hardcore Fanzines and a very vital 90ies scene, literally paved a way out of what would clearly become a depressing coming of age for me.
I am full of doubt, but also hope, I don’t know what I expect, but i would LOVE to have a change happen.
On the one hand, the mainstream side of things: Bridge the age gap of writers. Where are they? Why are the young people writing fashion outlet social media copy texts for a living instead of a passionate pamphlets for music site? Because it’s not cool? And because it’s not getting paid enough? Can some publishing houses in EUROPE have the balls, to get their shit together and build a good online platform for music writers, young and old?
Seriously, it cant be that hard, can it? Somebody just give THE QUIETUS some money so they can hire people.
On the other hand, there also needs to be a balance, that focusses on OTHER music, and OTHER art. It can’t just be ONE thing – by the way Bandcamp is doing a GREAT job on covering a wide variety of music, and pay journalists for it, journalists who fail with their pitches literally everywhere else, so yeah, Bandcamp, kudos, and clearly someone understood, that a great editorial is a good idea, and that thing is a basically a webstore tool!? That’s how it is in 2019!
So answering the question what I expect from Music Writing in 2019 means also: that some people step away from the newsbit, and clickbait rat race and instead take as much time for it as the musicians who worked on this music. I want them to dig deeper, and maybe even WAIT, yes, I rather have someone write a good article with some background than this general overload on the back of a release schedule with the same stories over and over again. And I know this also partially (some would argue) OUR (the LABELS fault) and that this is the biggest issue for everyone out there, writing, about music, there has to be a STORY, and people have to be INTERESTED in that Story, otherwise no-one will publish it, but that cycle has to break, who determines what story is worth talking about? It’s almost inhuman, oh wait, it is totally inhumane, because it’s just Algorithms, but is a record only going to matter because it’s a newsworthy angle coming right at it? Maybe not? Maybe i would really like to read an article about music being contextualized and put into perspective? Maybe i rather wanna read a review 4 months after a record is out and really hear, what someone has to say and mean it.
Back to the start, again: this all has to do with the question what music will become, it’s meaning for people, for me and you and everyone IS changing, as we type into the void. We experience a radical technological change maybe comparable to the invention of moving pictures (check W. Benjamin), but with far more repercussions for society than we can even fathom right now, and we will never solve this, a new generation will at some point look back and be able to put it together. What the impact of new technology will do to our societies and music as apart of it, remains to be seen, but that, might be the most interesting and important aspect to focus on for heartfelt music writing, NO music exists in a vacuum, the story of the individual who makes the music may be less interesting than the story of the music in context of it’s society, with what we do, as artists and writers and labels is, to watch it, everyhting we do, at some point will give testimony to later generations, we are witnessing and important change and we are able to write about it, and muse about it, and watch it, and try to draw conclusions.
As mentioned above: Bandcamp, and of course the Quietus, Red Light Radio, TMZ, NTS, NPR, New Yorker, and a lot more online sources, print magazines not so much, unfortunately – but BOOKS! And then a ton of offline sources like: FRIENDS.
I discovered Mark Fisher – it blew me away. I was late in the game, but that’s ok I think.
Dude … that’s EXACTLY what has to change.