The State of Music Journalism
Music journalism is going through big changes in today’s world due to technology. Many say it’s dying or dead, others say it’s just evolving. The Fader was once my favorite music magazine due to it’s unique photography and intimate articles on both upcoming and established artists. However, now they are playing catch up with the digital world and competing with the likes of music media companies such as Pitchfork and Genius.
Unfortunately, in attempts to stay “relevant” it seems they have hired more millennial writers for opinion pieces or to report on music news and input their personal agendas, which has allowed for their content to suffer. Rather than objectively reporting on music with well thought out insights, everything is about click-baiting with misleading titles and overreacting to anything that goes against their so-called principles. If not that, then they are probably over-praising every pop artist’s new album. It all fits perfectly with the over-sensitive and know-it-all internet world of today.
Well a couple of weeks ago, The Fader hit a new low.
The Fader published an article claiming in their words that, “The most famous music critic in the world” Anthony Fantano, is a closet racist and used his secondary YouTube channel “ThatIsThePlan”, to pander to the alt-right. Several days later, Anthony gave his response in a new video on his main channel with 1 million subscribers, “The Needle Drop”, in which he point by point refutes every claim made in the article.
The response video is worth watching but here’s a short overview: An unknown writer tries to frame a YouTube channel built from internet memes and satire as alt-right. Why? For clicks and notoriety. Are there any concrete facts or evidence to make such a damaging claim? No.
Thankfully other media outlets recognized this borderline libel and disprove it as well, along with another popular music review channel “Dead End Hip Hop” discussing it and coming to the same consensus many YouTube viewers share, which is that The Fader is just fabricating a hit piece out of twisting circumstance and timing.
Without getting too much into the tedious details, here’s how I see this situation:
This writer is either so sensitive and easily triggered that they can’t recognize satire, or they are purposefully trying to damage a man’s career by twisting satire as fact. This situation is the equivalent of claiming Stephen Colbert is a right wing extremist because in his previous show “The Colbert Report” he played a character that was satirically based on Bill O’ Reilly. However, aside from his comedy show, he is obviously much more leftist than his character on TV. This is exactly the same as Anthony Fantano and the character he plays on “thatistheplan”. Anyone familiar with Fantano knows in fact, hilariously, he is the complete opposite of right wing or alt-right.
Fantano and The Fader will likely both continue on fairly unscathed. But it’s obvious that instead of making great content, The Fader decided to sling a hit piece at the new face of music journalism just because they could. However, Fantano did lose a couple of live tour shows as a result of the claims, fact based or not. In other words, an established music magazine cost a widely respected music figure a decent amount of yearly income with no repercussions. The Fader had nothing to lose but tried to take down the competition of the future. Both will still be standing after this, but trust me when I say that I will no longer be reading The Fader, but I will still be watching The Needle Drop.
Such is the state of music journalism.