The dozen “music journalism” professionals at yesterday’s Condition Critical panel of the Future of Music Coalition’s three-day long “policy summit” became somewhat divided (at least from my perspective) over the course of a well-attended hour & three-quarters session. At one end of a spectrum of opinion were the old guard — me, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune and Tom Moon, formerly of the Philadelphia Inquirer — asserting that good music journalism puts the music in context, “illuminates, educates and entertains” its readers and reaches beyond its niche to satisfy those who are not devoted yo but may be curious about a given musical topic. At the other was Raymond Leon Roker of URB/URB.com and Todd Roberts, co-founder of the Daily Swarm, who suggested that success in music journalism comes from amplifying, echoing and reinforcing the interests of the largest attractable audience. I may be drawing this too reductively, but it felt like an argument: developing substantive content vs, ever-better marketing, without much interest in content, using the processes of social media.
I may have misunderstood this panel completely; I was never quite sure what we were supposed to be talking about, or to whom. Moderator Casey Rae-Hunter of FMC, who described himself as a recording engineer who had worked as a music journalist, posted the opening question: “What value do music writers bring to music, when it’s so easy for everybody to hear any music now [via the web]?” Co-moderator Fiona Morgan, formerly a writer/editor for the Independent Weekly serving Raleigh-Durham and now a graduate student at University of North Carolina studying public policy issues regarding journalists, wanted to know “What’s the new business model for music journalism, considering the old one is broken. Who will pay for music journalism in the future?”