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You know it’s really fucking coming to something when Faster Louder of all places attempts to draw a line in the sand

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Faster Louder

From the Faster Louder front page:

Why FL is standing up for music journalism

There are so many sites running the same stories, regurgitating the same press releases, rewriting someone else’s scoops, premiering the same “exclusive” tracks, republishing tweets and embedding the same clips, that if you’re after bland content bots with no personality or distinguishable voice you really are spoilt for choice.

We’re drawing a line in the sand today, and debuting a brand new vision for what is desperately missing in the Australian online music media space; a thoughtful, incisive, critical, respected and influential voice. We’ve got the history, we’ve got the audience, we’ve got the resources, we’ve got the desire and we’re going to take you on a new journey starting right now.

Fascinating. I mean, hard to disagree with and everything. Somewhat ironic, though, considering the source.

For the uninitiated and un-Australian, Faster Louder is perhaps the one place that, over its eight-and-a-half year history, has done more to ruin the idea that music criticism in Australia could mean anything beyond the same regurgitated press releases. Immensely popular, because it’s always understood the value of encouraging dialogue, but with little or no quality control. (Its handful of ‘editors’ have never been paid nor trained enough to sort through the reams of free copy.) No payment of freelancers, beyond the spurious offer of basement-level payola – free concert tickets, natch – and the even more spurious promise of “building up one’s portfolio”. (What? With a bunch of articles that amount to absolute shit?) So bad that when websites like Who The Hell come along – with their ingrained policy of not offering any ‘editorial’ in their (hence) value-less ‘recommendations’ of new bands – they can claim to be a viable ‘alternative’. So bad, it almost makes one yearn for the lazy advertorial of Australia’s street press. Almost.

If you want to understand my incredulity at Faster Louder’s volte-face, then read one, or both, of the following articles:

“I have few regrets. Writing for Fasterlouder is one of them.”
some fallout from the Faster Louder article

And yet… and yet. Yesterday, I accepted my first commission from Faster Louder. Darren Levin, the site’s new editor-in-chief and the man who wrote the above paragraphs, is fresh from editing Mess+Noise, where he made a very decent stab at corralling a decent website together with limited resources, and he can be a smart and witty writer. I trust the fellow. And because of this I will not cast scorn on his grandiose claims, but wish him all the best of Australian. I fear the task may be too great. I fear the influence of commercial publishers may be too strong. But damn it. I hope he succeeds.

P.S. If you’re wondering, it’s not all doom and gloom over here in the commercial music writing sector. For instance, Marcus has done a fine job at The Vine. And there’s a new online ‘zine just started here: hardly the commercial sector but interesting nonetheless. And there are articles like this.

Who knows? Maybe in a year’s time there might be enough actual music criticism around in Australia to justify a column like this.

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