The Music Journalism Deception

A brief history here: I spent 12 months learning the basics of journalism at the prestigious Rhodes University. I passed my exams with a 72% average but that score was not good enough. I didn’t make the cut for the next journalism year and was asked to choose another degree or another University. So, I spent four years doing the former as an English major and learning about journalism (especially music journalism) in my free time.

Then blogs started popping up like mushrooms. Almost everyone I know has a blog.

That is where the problem lies.

Everyone has a blog. Suddenly, “everyone” is a writer.

Four years of studying the ‘art’ of writing in the English language counts for nothing because “everyone” is now a writer.

At one stage, I thought I could be a music journalist like a less romanticised version of William from Almost Famous. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with such ideas. A lot of Williams started popping out making their début on music based websites. Some of these music journalists are excellent and continue to be. As for the rest of the music journalists, I question their motives.

Unfortunately, music journalism is dying while some argue it’s dead. Either way, it’s becoming a black hole of absolute nonsense.There is a lack of integrity, professionalism and comprehension in the current music journalism market. The tweets that prompted this blog post are from @noyokono:

@noyokono: It’s so nice when reviewers summarize a band’s Wikipedia entry in the opening paragraph.

@noyokono: If a reviewer has no real history with a band, no connection to its lengthy story, why pretend? Why not just focus on the music?

@noyokono: What surprises me is that editors at reputable publications let this sort of shit go on, unchecked. Do they think their readers are idiots?

@noyokono: I don’t expect a writer to do weeks of research for an 800 word review. But summarizing Wikipedia gives me no reason to keep reading.

@noyokono: REMEMBER: Music criticism is a dying form so if you’re going to be a critic make sure you’re making a worthwhile contribution.

All the above are absolute valid points. Take note, rookie music bloggers and wannabe Williams. I might have copied a line or used Wikipedia but I learned the hard way. My friend and fellow music journalist @MarkAngelBrandt has identified 3 problems in the alternative music journalism department. 1) The same bands are covered year in and year out – which is boring. 2) Lack of standards across music based websites that recycle half-baked articles. 3) People are no longer inspired by journalism any more because content is no longer engaging. Mark wants to change that and has something in the works but I am inclined to keep hush about it. (You could always speak to Mark to find out)

I should point out that music journalism is an art! Not everyone is good at it and not everyone can make a living from it but we can talk about it and learn from there.

What is there to learn in music journalism? A lot. As @sethw mentioned: If you think there’s nothing left to teach, remember there are people that still ask “what’s a latté?” at Starbucks.

– Lav



2 thoughts on “The Music Journalism Deception

  1. So many good points! Right on @noyokono! I admit, I had to do some music/band “blurbs” for a past internship and Wikipedia was an important source to learn about a band’s history. I never ever read music reviews though. I don’t know what it is but I’d rather listen to an album myself than read what someone else thought about it. My favorite music journalism stories are the ones where we get a glimpse into the background workings/tour life stories of a band/singer. Also, I feel ya on the whole “everyone is a writer” thing. It’s a side effect of the Internet.

    • Cheers for reading! It is a side-effect of the internet but it needs to be called out – don’t you think so?

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