Why DOES a winner like Simon Dunmore back a loser like Faith? The mystery of the normally astute Defected boss – whose online growth in the pandemic has been huge – backing a dead tree outlet…

A man who’s been in the industry for a very, very long time once told me “The thing about [Defected boss] Simon Dunmore is he’s very good at two things in life. Making friends and making money – and he has few qualms about mixing the two, so long as he’s earning out of it too”.

His words came to mind when someone kindly suggested an idea to me for a post. Last week, this blog published two articles about Faith fanzine. They didn’t like it and expressed their disapproval in an oh so modern way – by unfollowing me on Twitter. Like the rest of the dance music press, they appear to be run by terribly thin-skinned people who don’t like being scrutinised.

I now find myself asking another question. Why does Defected back Faith fanzine? The original publication ran from 1999 to 2012 and printed a pathetic 24 editions in that time – an average of 1.8 issues per year. Given that other dance publications were putting out at least one issue per month, this is nothing to write home about.

Yet last year, this magazine suddenly reappeared during the pandemic – and Defected were all over it, with at least one advert for a release from the label appearing in the first new issue. Simon Dunmore himself referenced this on April 13th last year, saying it “continues our investment into dance music culture”.

But does investing into a print magazine make any sense for Defected? A source close to the label suggests it does, saying “People like nostalgia and people like the fanzine. It sells well. I think Simon’s known all three founders of the original magazine for years – him and Terry Farley first met about 30 years ago. Everyone’s being paid out of it, so why not?”.

However, this does put Defected into the position where it’s effectively competing against dance magazines which they used to advertise in many years ago. Yet my source insists Dunmore is “relaxed” about this, pointing out “Print is only a tiny bit of the whole operation. Defected overwhelmingly operates online these days.”.

I just wonder how Defected will respond when that initial novelty of the magazine’s return wears off. Dunmore is known in the business for being willing to take time to build something up, even if it means making less money – in the short term, at least…

As Faith fanzine attempt to justify their interview with Carl Cox – as one their founders criticises his appearance at a Saudi Arabia festival – doesn’t this prove the irrelevance of the printed press?

Last night, I published an article criticising Faith fanzine for running an interview with Carl Cox whilst at the same time, one of their founders is criticising his appearance at a Saudi government backed festival. And it hasn’t gone down entirely well – much to the surprise of no one.

Let’s get to Faith fanzine’s defence first. They haven’t said anything directly to me, but they did like a comment pointing out the interview with Cox and everything associated with it would have been done before the MDL Beast Soundstorm revelations. And on Instagram, they responded to a user by pointing out “the interview was done in the summer and went to print early last week”.

They seem to be arguing they’ve been backed into a corner and had no other choice. Which I sympathise with – but only to an extent. You see, this is a classic case of the print media showing itself to be an irrelevance.

By Faith’s own admission, this interview was recorded during the summer. I would take that to mean July or August. It’s now late November. That interview could be over four months old. With each passing day, the risk of that interview being superseded by events increased. And that’s exactly what’s happened here.

I sympathise a little with Faith fanzine – but the blunt truth is that print magazines in dance music are a throwback to a long gone era. Yes, some of the print magazines of the 1990s were brilliant – but they existed in a time with a slower news cycle and no alternative to print. Nowadays, this kind of content belongs online.

And don’t take my word for it. Look over at Mixmag. They last published a printed edition in April 2020. They said they’d be back in 2021. It’s now nearing December and the print magazine has now been resting as long as the money in Father Ted’s bank account. The online operation has had money spent on it – although sadly not on staffing it with proper journalists.

Whilst I feel a little bit sorry for Faith fanzine and Terry Farley – who comes out of this looking especially foolish – I think they’ve just proven their magazine is a relic of a bygone era…