Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by Gary Miller

The Blog Factor

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 14

Music criticism is undergoing as dramatic a sea change as the rest of the industry, print increasingly ceding cultural cache to online sources. Hyping the significance of blogs' place in music's new indieconomics was a rightly moot point among the panel of premier tastemakers, who instead addressed concerns over the medium's blurred affiliations and critical obligations. At the forefront of the shift, Stereogum's Amrit Singh and DrownedinSound's Sean Adams waxed hesitant of the downsides of amateur online editing, while Matador Records co-owner Gerard Cosloy noted the effects of snap-judgment journalism bleeding over to many print publications, and Idolator's Maura Johnston proffered that "journalism all over is becoming devalued." Yet they all also drew a traditional line for blogs from, in Cosloy's words, "the glory days of fanzines" and acknowledged the medium's ability to develop a story or trend as it unfolds. The panel proved impressively self-critical, much more so than many of the company-boasting discussions at the conference, which reflected the top bloggers' keen sense of responsibility as the medium develops in both business and criticism. With the attention of both writers and readers shifting to online outlets, the panelists' concern for the medium's integrity harbingered a possible critical renaissance beyond print's fallout and blogging's tipping point.

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