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Shaking Up the World of Music Journalism


If you have not heard yet, rock paper scissors is in the midst of crowdfunding campaign to launch five new world music review websites. The campaign ends in a eight days (on December 20) and we are almost halfway to our goal of $3000. There have been questions. Here are answers.

Contribute now to create more world music reviews or forever hold your peace. 

Who would want more music review websites for world music?

  • Touring artists and managers applying for visas. 
  • Artists and labels who want people to hear about their new releases.
  • Booking agents who want presenters to hear buzz on their artists. 
  • Journalists who want more writing outlets. Journalists who want more dialogue on releases.
  • Fans who have few places to find smart reviews abotu world music recordings. 

Aren't there enough outlets and websites out there?

There are very few outlets dedicated to world music in the United States. The ones that do exist are understaffed or operating on websites that have been designed a long time ago. More broadly themed media do cover world music as well, but even NPR, PRI, and the NY Times can only cover so many releases. 

This is the era of social media, not media outlets. Aren't media outlets passé? 


Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks have grown in signfiicance in the music discovery process. But there is a growing role for curated content. All the major music discovery streaming services are brainstorming or implementing curated content. Why? People appreciate experts guiding them towards music discovery. If none of your friends like the same music as you, you can ditch your friends. Or you can keep your friends and support some curated world music review websites. Professionally maintained media outlets help peopel on social networks share content. The content has to come from somewhere. 

Isn't it unethical for a publicity firm to run media outlets?

Is it ethical to talk on a mobile phone while using a urinal? Is it ethical to wear glasses with built in cameras? Everything is changing, but we at rock paper scissors are not throwing out ethics. We will assign a lot more releases than are on our publicity roster. A more diverse set of recordings makes for better websites which helps our clients too. Furthermore, we guarantee that once we assign releases for review, critics will maintain editorial freedom in their reviews. A contracted editor, who is not a staff of rock paper scissors, will be responsible for copy-editting, ensuring editorial standards (such as staying in format with each website), and posting reviews. We will ask them to push writers to be music critics offering constructive feedback in their reviews. There will be no fluff pieces. Is that ethical? We do not know. But we think it seems fair and like a contribution to the field. 

Why are you creating 3-5 world music review websites. Wouldn't one website suffice?

Our plan is to create websites each with a different theme and run on a different platform. It will be easier for fans (and for writers) to pick a website that suits their interests. One website will have a strong visual component. Another will be built for news junkies. Another will be an easy entrypoint to newcomers of world music. By using different platforms, we can leverage different search engine optimization strengths, social network integration, and functional tools. In addition, we can present multiple reviews/perspectives on the same release, which will have a greater impact on diverse dialogue around a release. 

How will you sustain these websites?

By partnering with existing media outlets like S0nglines and Afropop (more to be announced after we launch), we will sell networked advertising. We hope to generate $7500 per month in advertising. Regardless of whether we hit our target, the editor and writers will be  paid on a per-review basis. A $7500/monthly budget would allow us to pay for ads in Songleins and Afropop as well as cover the cost of 100 album reviews per month. If we generate half that amount of money, we spend half as much assigning reviews. 

Who is supporting the campaign so far?

We have support from Concert Presenters like (Leigh Ann Hahn, Sage Dahlen, Kathryn Woodard), Record Labels (like CUmbanchau, Booking Agents (like Jacob Edgar, Mel Puljic, Heidi Fleming, and Marilyn Gilbert), Publicists (like John Seroff, Ryan Romana, and Ryan Dawes), and Journalists (like Megan Romer, Catalina Maria Johnson, Rob Weisberg, Rick Anderson, Nancy Dunham, Jordan Richardson) and Artists (like Sarah Aroeste, Will Kreth, and Muriel Mwemba), among many others! Thank you all!

We need your support right now. Contribute to the campaign today to make it happen.

Add your comments, support, or question in the comments section below.