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Music Journalism Is Changing and The Age Of Bloggers Is Upon Us
During the summer months of 2020 one of the worlds largest and most established music publications Q Magazine announced its final issue. There are many factors to as why Q ceased to be, I want to reiterate that point too. To say Q failed as a music magazine would be totally unfair. As a print publication they did everything right, especially during its early years. However, like most print magazines they fell into the trap of putting the same faces on the front page, there is only so many times you can read about Liam Gallagher doing something typical of his nature before you get bored. Content started to stagnate and the rise of the internet made it impossible for the magazine to keep up and remain fresh. Not to mention they were woefully slow to adapt and create a strong online presence.
The internet is often a scapegoat for the death of many traditional media platforms. Often it is true but more often it’s not the internet as a body, it is the change that the internet brought that make it hard for traditional media. One thing they’ve proved is that they are often slow at adapting to the changing landscape. The internet, although not perfect, has opened the gates for music journalism. Practically anyone can become a music journalist now, for better or worse. The positive is that before music journalists would be the gatekeepers of music, dictating what’s good and what’s not, which is still the case but now artists can appeal to a larger array of writers. Music journalism is now broken down into tribes, as opposed to all artists going through several publications they can apply to literally hundreds of blogs that cover your genre specifically. This sort of publicity is something artists from the 80’s and before would have dreamed of. You can reach a global audience through a variety if smaller independent blogs as opposed to relying on several music publications to reach peoples ears and eyes.
Before an online music publication, blog or zine was seen as niche, irrelevant and somewhat pointless. However, the landscape has changed and now it is seen as the opposite. Whilst music publications line up in death row the internet has been home to an emerging explosion of online platforms. Blogs such as So Young Magazine, Noisey, Line Of Best Fit, CLUNK Magazine, Gigslutz, CLASH Magazine, CRACK Magazine and so many more. Some of these mentioned also do a series of print editions too, they’re a real fusion of new and old. The larger more established acts and exclusive content is found in the print whilst the quick moving elements of the industry such as single releases, EP’s and LP’s find their way online.
Content has also had a rapid change with text based content ranking lower than video content. Publications have had to discover new and exciting ways to deliver content via video. There are several reasons to this, one of them being that we’re more likely to watch a video than read something. Secondly, social media algorithms respond better to video content. So much of today’s audience and views are through social media, so naturally the content would bend to where the audience is and their media consumption habits.
The music industry also now moves at an ever accelerating rate, music is constantly being pushed out and new artists are forever emerging. The truth is print journalism cannot keep up with the speed in which the industry moves. This is where the power of the internet comes in and where bloggers strive. It is in this momentum that online publications far surpass what their print contemporaries are able to achieve. It is why print journalism is seen as a niche or something special. For every grime song released there are a wave of grime blogs to hype it up (SBTV, GRM Daily & Wordplay being the main), for every indie track there is countless blogs, all foaming at the mouth for the latest indie belter. This is true for every genre, sub genre and niche genre. The internet has created a cultural powerhouse that any musician with any variety of sound can survive and strive or at the very least be heard. Although it may seem that having all these options would surely lessen the quality of the content, which in some respects may be true, but cream always rises to the top. The blogs that become known for quality content will remain and better yet will nearly always be accessible to artists who are popular and emerging.
Artists now have the power of press at their very fingertips, an editor is now an email away, a music journalist could be your neighbour. Gone are the days of having to fight for your voice to be heard, someone, somewhere out there will almost certianly write about your release. It may seem bleak that print publications are falling off the shelf but the truth is the press landscape is changing. In many ways for better, in some maybe for worse. Either way the future is clear and the future for music press clearly lies in the many blogs that operate today and the future.