Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Bloggers: music industry tastemakers?

March 20, 2009

sxswAs the influence of traditional music critics at newspapers and magazines wanes, a new breed of critic, armed only with a computer and an Internet connection, is filling the void.

Though the Baby Boomer generation got their music recommendations from the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine and similar outlets, the next generation of music fan attending the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, is seeking out a new “tastemaker” — the blogger.

That’s due in part to staff cutbacks by U.S. newspapers and other publications, which has forced them to focus on big-name national acts and give local bands short shrift, said  Robert Duffy, founder of music blog called

“If you picked up the local paper you wouldn’t know what’s going on on the local music scenesxsw2 outside maybe the orchestra,” Duffy, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said at a panel on blogging at the 10-day music, film and interactive networking event on Thursday. “They’re not thinking about local music.”

Though old-style music reviewers gained notoriety by “slamming” bands with negative reviews, modern-day bloggers — who often have day jobs — only have time to write about bands they actually like, said Glenn Peoples from Nashville, Tennessee, who runs a music industry blog

In some ways bloggers have replaced the “cranky record store clerk” as the source for musical hints, Peoples said.

However, Justin Gage, founder of blog Aquarium Drunkard in Los Angeles, said he still relies on long-term clerks at record stores like Amoeba Music for advice.

sxsw5Gage and Duffy both agreed that bloggers can play a big role in convincing music publishers to sign record deals with bands. “That word-of-mouth thing – you can’t beat it,”  Gage said.

Janet Timmons, editor of Out the in Nashville, said her blog focuses almost exclusively on in-town acts, mostly rock bands. “We’re one of the last really enthusiastic mediums,” said Timmons, who has posted many blogs about the Nashville  band The Features.

- Photo credits: Reuters/Chris Baltimore (Top: Festival-goers line up in the Austin Convention Center; Middle: The band “Two Hours Traffic” from Prince Edward Island in Canada perform; Bottom: Festival-goers take in a performance at SXSW)


Wow, I am decades weary of that “cranky record store clerk” thing. I’d say customer service has gone to hell all over our country (also on the phone and online) but I’ve met some of the nicest people ever in record stores – and Amoeba in LA probably gets singled out because it really is the happiest nicest bunch of people you’d ever want to get advice from. I think I’ll never forgive High Fidelity as a movie or book or whatever, because as much as it nails the OCD knowledge the record store people have for music – I’ve never been in a store where disrespectful stuff is allowed to go on. Whether it’s the record shop or the indie book shop: that is where I get excellent customer service nearly every time & elsewhere I get ignored …and I can’t hang out and get advice for 12 minutes chatting about stuff back & forth holding the product with a blogger. (Just did that with some books & a book clerk is why it’s in my head…) I’m net junkie/blog hound – but if the day comes I can’t chat with a clerk, I’ll be lost.

Posted by Not JackBlack | Report as abusive

With all these talent shows, people are invested in the person long before they have any actual music to base your opinion, it ends up being a charitable donation than a record sale, like a parent buying their child’s lemondade


too right. look at blogs like Disco Dust (, Bad Fotography (, Sheena Beaston (

Disco Dust blogs dance music that would otherwise be unheard of, Bad Fotography blogs up the Leeds music scene alot amongst its collection of underground dubstep /dnb / indie posts (and blogged about the new PJ Harvey album before the Guardian did) and Sheena Beaston is just all round awesomness.

Posted by trentrampage | Report as abusive

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