×

SXSW: Music Journalism Panel Illuminates Streaming’s Impact on Editorial Decisions

What constitutes music journalism these days? According to the South By Southwest panel titled “Why Music Journalism Matters in The Age of Streaming,” which took place in Austin on March 15, it’s a diverse mix of media including breakout-band-focused site Bandcamp, Genius, with its lyrics-driven editorial, the websites Pitchfork and Spin and the sole print publication represented, the Fader.

“Nothing is real,” quipped Spin editor-in-chief Puja Patel — flying a little close to the sun for some — when asked about alliances between the major labels and playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. That association can drive traffic on sites like Genius, whose news editor, Chris Mench, explained how a track appearing on a popular Spotify playlist always drives traffic to the song’s page on his site. “You can see in real-time what people are interested in,” said Mench. The discussion also segued to Spotify’s internal playlists, like Rap Caviar, which are curated by actual experts, making the job of new-artist discovery more challenging.

For a site like Bandcamp, though, the audience dictates which new artists the site chooses to profile. “We’re catching people on the way up,” said Senior Editor Marcus Moore. “If whatever we do helps them in the long run — I’m good.”

Relatedly, there were also concessions that the old-school idea of a music journalist being the voice of quality control was dead, or at least has changed. “Critics matter less and developing your own brand matters more,” said Patel, to the half-full room, continuing her thought by conceding that Spin actively seeks out what its audience is most interested in. The panel later addressed the concern that negative reviews can affect a relationship with an artist, although all of the panelists said that that never plays a part in editorial coverage. “We have had [interview] cancellations,” said Mench.

But perhaps the most moving and direct part of the panel came during the Q&A, when Moore and Patel were asked to discuss their experience being people of color and, in Patel’s case, a women in a field that has notorious been difficult to break into. “Don’t let them box you in, because they will,” said Moore, who pointed out the very obvious fact that just because he covers hip-hop doesn’t also mean he couldn’t cover a folk or metal artist.

As for Patel, her response was direct — and poignant: “It’s a miracle,” she said, in clear words of encouragement “that a woman of color is the editor of Spin.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • AT&T TV

    AT&T TV: An Unskinny Streaming Bundle That Looks a Lot Like Traditional Pay TV

    AT&T this week launched AT&T TV, a new subscription streaming television service that uses an Android-based internet set-top, in 10 markets. But the way it’s priced and packaged looks very similar to cable and satellite TV services — in other words, AT&T TV isn’t targeted at the cord-cutter crowd. It’s basically designed as a way [...]

  • Sofia Wylie arrives at Variety's Power

    Disney Channel Enlists Duplass Brothers for YouTube Hip-Hop Dance Series Starring Sofia Wylie

    Disney Channel’s first original scripted series made exclusively for release on YouTube is “Shook,” a hip-hop dance short-form series starring Sofia Wylie, produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. “Shook” will debut Saturday, Sept. 28, on Disney Channel’s YouTube channel. The scripted single-camera show centers on 15-year-old Mia (Wylie), who yearns to dance professionally but [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Is Getting Rid of Messaging Feature

    YouTube is killing off a feature that allowed users to share videos and other messages with each other. YouTube Messages, which was first introduced in January of 2017, will be turned off by September 18, the company announced this week. “We’re constantly reevaluating our priorities and have decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature [...]

  • Yara Shahidi

    Audible Teams Up With Big Names as Audio-Only Storytelling Expands

    Hobnobbing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kate McKinnon and Yara Shahidi isn’t typically the gloss applied to the cerebral audiobook set, but Audible is putting the humble audio story through its own movie-makeover montage, inking high-profile development deals with entertainment names like “The Walking Dead” comics creator Skybound Entertainment, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Lorne [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean Regulators Approve Four-Way Streaming Merger

    South Korean regulators have approved the merger of the video services of three local broadcasters and SK Telecom’s streaming app Oksusu. The new service, operating under the name Wavve will launch in September and be Korea’s largest. Proposed in January as a measure to combat the incursion of international video players, the deal was given [...]

  • siriusxm on playstation

    SiriusXM Announces $4 Streaming Plan for Students

    SiriusXM took another step towards taking its subscription service past the car Tuesday: The company announced a new student subscription tier that gives eligible college students access to music and talk radio stations on their mobile and connected devices for $4 per month. Some of the content available for this price includes SiriusXM’s more than [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content