The digital age has influenced the field of journalism considerably to the extent of creating uncertainty regarding its future. Particularly, according to Bradshaw and Rohumaa, technological changes have altered the nature of music in the contemporary setting, especially the format in which it is presented and its accessibility (89). Since music is also part of journalism, its contemporary nature implies that journalists who specialize in it need to be aware of the changes that influence the future of their professionalism. In this respect, the future of music journalism is grim in an era where online music blogging is taking the center stage. Specifically, traditional music journalism entailed writing reviews or criticizing popular music topics in different genres of music (Burgstaller 202). As such, Pavlik asserts that journalists in the field engage in studying, discussing, evaluating, and interpreting music that has been released to the public (57).
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Music journalists or critics provide reviews regarding a particular musical work before grading its quality with respect to the theme it addresses. Nonetheless, the paper argues that the advent of the Internet has affected the role of the traditional print music journalist to the extent of raising concerns over the prospects of the field in the rapidly changing journalism landscape. Undoubtedly, according to Herbert, the adversity of the technological changes in journalism has been demonstrated by the collapse of the cassette industry, a situation that has pushed music journalists to adopt new roles that would facilitate their sustainability in the profession (79). However, the same technological changes have created significant uncertainties among music journalists, as denoted by the case “Is there a Future for Music Journalists and Critics in the Digital Age?” by Adriana Magers. Therefore, this paper integrates this case study to demonstrate that the future of traditional music journalism is grim in the digital age.
Over the last decade, discussions regarding the prospect of music journalism have been on the rise following the adverse outcome of technological change that has influenced the profession. As such, most of the concerned parties question whether music journalists have a role to play in the Internet age. Particularly, according to Bradshaw and Rohumaa, traditional music journalists engaged in the writing of reviews and grading of music after release to gauge the level of creativity or artistic richness of the work (102). As such, print media provided the platform through which music journalists and critics published their captivating articles to audiences who mainly comprised of music fans and fanatics. Particularly, magazines and newspaper columns contained most of the reviews and the grading of music (Anderton 90).
However, as Rogers asserts, the declining magazines and newspapers industry has undermined the effective execution of the roles ascribed to traditional music journalists (55). The threatened music journalism is continually on the verge of extinction as the press media continues to lay off employees due to increased operational costs and the decreased circulation of music review articles in print versions. The common platforms that are currently used to review and grade music include blogs, user-generated music websites such as MySpace, Spotify, and the various platforms offered by social media platforms. Notably, Internet-based platforms attract millions of visitors and subscribers, thereby diverting their attention from traditional magazines and newspapers that provided music grading and reviews. Additionally, various blogs and audio hosting sites have undermined the economic feasibility of paid music journalism.
The lack of economic sustainability triggered by the preference for online reviews and the grading of music is continuously threatening the field of music journalism. Thus, more people are opting not to pursue music journalism specialty as a career. Desperate to foster the sustainability of the field, experts in the area have now adopted creative ways of engaging their audiences through stage performances, including social media (Bradshaw and Rohumaa 112). However, there is a challenge faced by music journalists people can provide their review or the grading of a particular song, thereby undermining the relevance of the professional in the current landscape. For example, YouTube provides a section where subscribers, as well as the general audience, can comment and review music. Therefore, since the perception of the audiences who listen or watch the music is the one that matters the most relative to that of the music journalist, the input of the latter is seen as less significant in the contemporary setting.
Further, according to Herbert, music journalism has not met the expectations of consumers over the last few decades by providing short reviews and grading to keep in line with the interests of the record companies, as well as advertisements (86). Currently, consumers prefer an interactive approach to the reviews and grading since they consider their inputs crucial in determining the quality of the released music. Interestingly, Internet platforms provide various stages of interaction where consumers share their opinions regarding music topics. Important to note, journalists have the relevant skills required to review and grade music compared to the consumers. However, the Internet overwhelms the effective applicability of their skills. Therefore, the issue makes it difficult for music journalists to identify their profession as economically sustainable.
Therefore, besides getting into blogging and the hosting of music files, the Internet makes it possible for anyone interested in music to write reviews and grading articles, thus undermining the viability of the field in the long run (Bradshaw and Rohumaa 120). Hence, the uncertainty denoted in music journalism necessitates news organizations to integrate the various online platforms to provide information and news regarding the music industry. Failure to adapt to the current trends may lead to a collapse of music journalism. However, the current music journalists have failed to integrate an interactive approach to their reviews and grades through the various social media platforms. Thus, they have not filled the gap presented by technology change. Consequently, the sustainability of music journalism is still uncertain in the digital age.
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Explanation of the Case Study
Adriana Mageros published a report titled “Is There a Future for Music Journalists and Critics in the Digital Age?’ to elaborate the extent to which technological changes have interfered with the once-embraced music journalism. Magers reveals how technological advancements in the contemporary setting have influenced significantly on the music industry (par.1). Such technological changes have affected the aspects of the production of music and distribution, thereby not only persuading artists to embrace technology but also music journalists to adopt new roles in line with the changes. In particular, the role of journalists and critics has been altered by the Internet where more consumers prefer using the easily accessible online platforms that provide information about music reviews and grading. Therefore, traditional music journalists or critics may be irrelevant in the future bearing in mind that music blogs have become common compared to print media platforms that offer such information (Hanover par.2).
Magers acknowledges that online music blogging influences the traditional approach to music journalism in a wide range of ways (par. 2). Notably, the Internet allows anyone interested in online music blogging to create a blog and/or start providing reviews and grading of music. Thus, such people become “experts”, regardless of their educational or professional background (par.2). As a result, the issue makes the efforts of professional music journalists less impactful in a niche that is flooded with individuals who have a passion to display their understanding of music at different levels. For interested people to call themselves music journalists or critics, they only need a computer, the Internet, and a simple blog such as WordPress. Thus, one’s background is not a factor for publishing his or her opinion regarding music. Therefore, the need to acquire educational qualifications to pursue music journalism has become less essential to a considerable degree, thereby threatening the growth and development of the career in the future where more unqualified people present their music reviews and ratings almost effortlessly online.
Further, Mageros underlines that online music blogging triggers the need to change the roles played by traditional music journalists (par. 3). Notably, consumers read music articles based on various expectations that range from entertainment to recommendations. Traditional music journalists offered audiences with opinions that influenced their perceptions, thus recommending them (audiences) music of the right quality or relevance. However, the Internet has brought a completely new dimension to the manner in which consumers approach the art of music. In this regard, more people need reviews to catch their attention and/or provide the required entertainment.
In the past, traditional music journalists only focused on the provision of short reviews and grading that did not hook or captivate the audiences. Therefore, the role of the traditional music journalist or critic needs to change in line with the dynamic consumer needs that can be fulfilled through the publishing of opinions via online stages. For instance, sites such as Pandora provide consumers with an opportunity to explore and discover the music of their preference. The alternative options provided by the Internet makes it necessary for music journalists to abandon their traditional roles of only providing reviews and grading of music. They should embrace interactive aspects that allow consumers to discover music. The discovery of music makes the experience entertaining, thus enhancing the preference of the blogs and music sites to traditional magazines.
Evidently, the readership of music magazines has also been on a downward trend in the United States (U.S) in a way that suggests a further decline of the traditional music magazines industry. Magers asserts that some of the music magazines, including Rolling Stone, have experienced a decline in the readership of its music articles since more people prefer digital sources of music news. Therefore, as revealed in the case, the reduced readership is a clear demonstration of the extent to which the traditional music journalism sector is experiencing a threat to its sustainability. Particularly, online platforms offer consumers with endless news articles that cover the different aspects of music, especially reviews and ratings. Interestingly, the decreasing readership of music articles presented in the traditional print format implies that online platforms can offer equally endless opportunities for music journalists to utilize, thus securing their careers amid the negative outcomes of the digital shift. Nonetheless, experts in the field have not braced themselves fully in terms of integrating new technologies at their disposal to further develop their careers. The trend is a worrisome one since it demonstrates the lack of effective adaptive mechanisms in the new journalism landscape.
In the case study, Mageros also pinpoints that the free music previewing opportunities offered by platforms such as YouTube, MySpace, and Pandora eradicates the need for journalists to influence consumers to discern between a good and a bad song ((par.5). As mentioned earlier, the input of the audience in determining the quality of music eliminates the need to engage professionals in providing short reviews and the grading of music. In this case, blogging is not the underlying factor that triggers a decline of music journalism, but rather the Internet and music downloading sites. Therefore, the Internet and the music downloading sites enable consumers to download and evaluate songs on their own, thus saving themselves from misguided reviews that would have cost them their time and money in buying the traditional CDs and cassettes. Furthermore, music playing and downloading websites keep a track of consumers’ history. The history helps in recommending new music that matches users’ preferences. Thus, the convenience of the Internet makes it difficult for traditional music journalists to find a place to fully implement their practice in the digital age.
Moreover, Mgaeros identifies the sharing of music through social media as one of the aspects that undermine the essence of the traditional music journalist today (par. 6). The ability of individuals to share their favorite songs with friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram provides an excellent way of recommending others who have a similar taste in music to download it. Thus, the sharing feature eliminates the role of the traditional journalists in reviewing and recommending a particular song to audiences. As such, the consumer takes the role of the traditional music journalists, thus making him or her influential in determining the response of the audience to particular songs. The current consumer demands make it difficult for music journalists to have a considerable impact on the music shared or recommended to others. Thus, such issues among several others noted above to make the future of the profession grim (Adams par. 3).
Evaluation of the Generalizability of the Case Study
Evidently, the case shows that the future of the music journalism industry is jeopardized by the developments brought about by the Internet. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate whether the case presents itself as an isolated one or not while at the same time assessing its relevance in promoting new approaches that would safeguard the music journalism field. Importantly, the integration of the Internet in any profession is central since it presents an array of benefits to the experts, as well as consumers. Thus, the evaluation will consider the users of the technology, including the journalists and the audiences, before pinpointing the positive and negative sides of the arguments presented in the case study.
Undoubtedly, anyone can become an “expert” in music journalism if he or she has access to the Internet and/or is interested to share opinions regarding a particular song. The expertise is made possible through the ease of opening blogs such as WordPress and the sharing of opinions through Facebook and Twitter among other social networks (Herbert 103). In this regard, consumers’ inputs in reviewing music take the place of the music commentator, thus undermining their relevance in the modern age. Since this situation prevails in every part of the globe, the case study can be generalized.
However, the unprofessional approach of the consumer may alter the essence of reviews, thus misleading others to download a specific song. The skills that music journalists have are essential in creating previews that are considerate of the key aspects of music quality. Conversely, consumers can integrate bias in the review of a song and recommend it to others without subjectively (Harrison par.2). As such, the potential of failing to observe objectivity in publishing the reviews and ratings on a specific song can imply that the place of the music commentator is still required to offer professional opinions. The case study does not capture the professional gap created by consumers who review music through platforms such as YouTube, Pandora, and MySpace. In this light, the prospect of music journalism could still be bright amid the participation of consumers in reviewing music unprofessionally.
Notably, the Internet requires journalists who specialize in the music field to adopt new roles that would engage consumers and/or bring about the captivation and entertainment associated with music (Pavlik 70). Traditionally, music journalists prioritized the provision of music reviews, as well as the grading of songs. However, the Internet provides consumers with platforms that allow them to discover music and/or engage their friends regarding a particular song. Thus, for the sake of ensuring that the audiences explore music while interacting with journalists, professionals need to embrace new roles that are in line with consumers’ expectations. Shockingly, the current roles embraced by music journalists do not meet the changing needs of consumers since they continually perceive online media as a great way of sourcing information regarding music.
Nonetheless, the case study does not consider the embracement of strategies that integrate technological changes in the field of music journalism to match the expectations of consumers. Music journalists can secure their profession by developing websites, blogs, and social media handles that keep consumers updated constantly regarding different songs released before offering their reviews, as well as welcoming the opinions of the audience (Pavlik 99). The interactive approach is a strategy that can facilitate the realization of a bright future in the field of music journalism since it embraces a flexible approach that values engagement. The discovery of music may also be made possible if music journalists welcome the insights and contributions of their audiences.
Social media is another platform that makes traditional music journalists worry about their future, owing to the features that allow the sharing of information regarding music. The various platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have made it possible for consumers to involve their friends or followers in discussing issues regarding the latest music or trending topics in the music industry (Harrison par.3). Undoubtedly, in so doing so, the consumer assumes the role of the music journalist, thus creating uncertainty regarding the relevance of the roles currently played by experts. For this reason, most of the music magazines have recorded a decreased circulation since the audiences have the power to access new music in time while sharing their opinions via social media.
However, the information shared on social media is not always true. It may be subjective, thus lacking the objectivity required in providing reviews. Therefore, there is a potential for experts in the field of journalism to venture into the social media niche to generate their news regarding music, thereby reaching a greater audience (Herbert 124). In this light, it is important for music journalists to embrace technology in a way that alters their role to meet the preferences of the audiences. Failing to do so would see the future of the music journalism profession become grimmer.
The future of the music journalism industry is grim due to an array of technological changes that have interfered with the role of traditional experts in the field. The case study reveals that the Internet has influenced the area of music journalism considerably, as denoted by the popularity of music blogs today. The traditional roles of the music journalists have been influenced by platforms such as blogs, music websites, and social media among other avenues supported by the Internet. For this reason, anyone can become a music journalist as long as he or she can access the Internet and/or is enthusiastic to share views concerning a song. The trend makes it difficult for journalists to find a place in the rapidly changing journalism landscape. However, there is still hope for experts in the music journalism specialty if they accept the landscape changes and/or adjust accordingly. Undoubtedly, the Internet should not be viewed as a factor that can lead to the collapse of the traditional music sector. Instead, it should be regarded as a factor that has the potential of changing the profession positively.
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