The web is teeming with outlets for music journalism – so where’s the diversity?
The other week, Lueda Alia let fly at the current state of music journalism. The journalist, editor and blogger noted that a wide range of publications, from The Guardian and Spin to
Rolling Stone and Billboard, had devoted a lot to space to Kim Kardashian’s arse and a spat between DJ and producer Diplo and Lorde, with the latter dissing the former over the size of his penis.
Alia wondered how and why such “ludicrous and irrelevant stories” were been covered by the publications in question. She concluded that, in order to remain relevant and make money, the titles had decided to go down the “TMZ-esque” road because it was easy and it worked.
If you are even just a casual reader of music media, you will also have come across both stories. For a few days, you could not avoid either Kardashian’s behind or Diplo’s organ.
It’s usually at this point in the story that you pull out a small violin and draw a comparison with the music press of old. But for every fabled 1980s’
NME cover story on politics or those in-depth, hefty profiles and long-reads of music-makers that used to be the normal music press diet, there were also occasions when the oldschool music press was every jot as trivial and celebrity-crazed as its modern-day counterparts.
The biggest change is scale. There are now many more outlets covering this particular beat, yet the same stories dominate. You would have thought that the growth in the number of outlets would have meant a corresponding uptick in what gets written about and more breadth of coverage.
But the opposite has come to pass. New online publications are so concerned with attracting clicks and clocking up advertising revenue that their site quickly resembles every other site on the block.
Click from outlet to outlet and the same stories dominate. It’s as bad as Irish music sites covering the same gigs, new EPs and remixes day in and week out. Doing something different, which you’d imagine would be something to aspire to for a new title seeking to make a mark, has become so rare as to be commented on.
A wide range of publications, from The Guardian to Rolling Stone, had devoted a lot to space to Kim Kardashian’s arse
For instance, that brilliant new arrival Wondering Sound, published by eMusic, has brought a breath of fresh air to the form in recent months by virtue of what it covers and how it does so. But that’s the exception which shows just how jaded, predictable and dull the rest of the pack have become.
Of course, all publications will say that there’s just as much substance in the mix as there is fluff. They’ll point to the fact that celebrity stories are popular with readers (just look the most-read columns in relatively august publications, including The Irish Times) as a reason to keep publishing them. But that’s not quite good enough. Music journalism, it would seem, really needs to figure out its arse from its Elbow.
YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS
Various Beats In Space 15th Anniversary Mix (Beats In
Space) Tim Sweeney (above) marks 15 years on air with his seminal WNYU radio show with a stellar mix of exclusive tracks, knock-your- socks-off mixes and all-time classics. Turn on and tune in.
It’s the season for Yuletide songs and for acts to show their Christmas spirit. The new album from RTÉ Radio One’s John Murray Show features Cathy Davey, Lisa Hannigan, Dónal Lunny, Damien Dempsey and many others performing with the RTÉ CO. Proceeds to Aware.