Last year, Resident Advisor ended up in deep trouble. Infact, had they not received their £750k bailout from Arts Council England last year, chances are the company would no longer exist. And that would, of course, be a terrible thing – said admittedly not very many people.
Now, one of the things Resident Advisor frequently tell us is that they represent dance music culture. Dance music culture now covers such a broad range of people and subjects that this aim is – and there’s no easy way to put this – fundamentally impossible for one website to achieve. Yet this doesn’t stop them from trying.
It’s also the reason why current editor-in-chief Whitney Wei got the job. She was brought into Resident Advisor because, according to co-founder Paul Clement, “she will bring a fresh approach as we continue to evolve”. Taken with her own words about “inclusive storytelling”, I take this to mean Resident Advisor wants to start covering things they don’t normally cover.
Now, this blog has no problem with anyone covering stories which aren’t being covered elsewhere. Indeed, it’s partly why I set up Amateur’s House. The trouble with that is in order to do it properly, you need one of two things. You either need journalists who know their subject inside out, or you need journalists who know people who will have the information.
Otherwise, you end up publishing rubbish such as this. From the very beginning of the article, you get the feeling you’re about to read a parody. For example, for “partygoers are reviving radical folkloric aesthetics to cope with an increasingly precarious world”, read as “ravers are putting on Medieval themed fancy dress”.
Having read the article, I assure you it gets no better. And yet again, I find myself asking – what DO the editors at Resident Advisor do with themselves all day? I’d be embarrassed at the thought of even publishing such unreadable drivel on my blog, let alone a major dance music website…
Now, this blog has been accused in the past of having some kind of personal vendetta against RA editor-in-chief Whitney Wei. Not guilty. Resident Advisor is a stale, boring brand which needs new blood – which is why I welcomed her appointment back in July. The whingers seem to conveniently forget this bit.
But I’ve been sorely disappointed by how poor and lacking in any sense of tenacity or personality Resident Advisor still is. The dance music world needs a press which isn’t afraid to ask questions, and Resident Advisor continue to duck this challenge under their new editor. And clangers like this leave me wondering what the hell the editors do all day.
So news that Resident Advisor’s editor-in-chief and managing editor are running a “journalism workshop”, as they’re calling it, highly amuses me. And that blurb is unlikely to win them any fans. For example, it says “the skills [of journalism] can be self-taught”. In a scene which has an awful lot of journalists who’ve had an awful lot of training but still aren’t very good at their job, that isn’t going to go down well.
Or alternatively, how about explaining that good journalism appears to involve refusing to cover difficult subjects? Such as the controversy surrounding Dominick Fernow which emerged shortly after Wei was appointed to the Resident Advisor role. Her old employers dropped her right in the soup by making clear they wanted nothing more to do with him. Or the subject of plague raves – which forced Resident Advisor to admit they’d been making money out of them for months.
I’m seriously thinking about signing up just to see how on earth they’re going to fill two whole hours on this subject. Let’s not forget that Whitney Wei has publicly vowed to “raise the calibre of music journalism” – something that I would dearly love to see. And as editor-in-chief of Resident Advisor, she’s in a position to make it happen. What are you waiting for, Whitney?
Let’s get one thing out of the way here. I think diversity is, by and large, a thoroughly good thing. This blog has no time for misogyny – especially allegations invented by a journalist motivated by malice – sexism, racism, homophobia or anything else like it. And I will call it out when I see it.
So I should be very pleased to hear about Resident Advisor and Intervention’s forthcoming free DJ workshops for what they term “marginalised communities”, right? Er, not really. And it’s not just because of their claim that “If [a white man needs] the space, you’re welcome to join but be mindful of the place you may be taking from someone else”.
Short of saying “p*** off, you’re not wanted”, Intervention couldn’t make their views any clearer. But it’s not just white men that are persona non grata here – it’s the disabled too. And they’re one of the most diverse, yet also one of the most marginalised communities out there!
I live with a wife with a disability, so I do know a little on the subject. And I’ve seen enough examples in my time of good access and sadly, a lot more examples of bad access. So when their FAQ section says “We try to use accessible spaces for different physical needs for all our workshops but sometimes this isn’t possible”, I honestly despair.
They’re going to 12 major cities across Britain – yet claim they can’t find decent accessible spaces in these cities. I’m not buying this explanation – just what must they have on their criteria list that makes the task so utterly impossible? Or does this come down to not wanting to spend money?
It’s very strange to say you want to help “marginalised communities” whilst choosing spaces that some of those marginalised might not even be able to get into…
Resident Advisor are a curious lot, aren’t they? Over their 20 years in existence, they’ve got to know the tactic of selective reporting very well. You see it all the time in their news reports from around the scene, particularly on certain subjects. Details that might be considered somewhat awkward are either played down as much as possible or ignored entirely.
And under their new editor Whitney Wei – who is on a self-declared mission to “raise the calibre of music journalism” – this trend looks set to continue. On Tuesday, Resident Advisor reported on the latest protest to take place in the Netherlands. Their nightclubs were closed a few weeks ago now and are currently not due to reopen until November – something which has driven the nightclubs a bit crazy.
The latest of the so-called Unmute Us protests is supposed to have pulled in 150,000 people. But there are a couple of things which seem to be consistently missing from Resident Advisor’s reports on this issue. For example, they don’t explain why nightclubs are closed in the first place. So I’ll tell you – it was because during the two weeks they were open again, infection rates in the country shot through the roof.
Tracing teams established that many of these clusters were coming from nightclubs, so they were closed again. They also conveniently fail to mention that a huge number of promoters and club owners – they don’t like scrutiny, this lot! – are strongly against any kind of Covid regulations whatsoever. The dance music scene has a frightening number of people in it who deny even the existence of the virus – and the Netherlands seems to have numbers which are even more disproportionate to anywhere else.
A news outlet which was truly led by someone who wished to “raise the calibre of music journalism” would seek to report all the facts, then allow their readers to make their own minds up. Instead, they prefer to leave details out which don’t suit their story.
You might want to raise the calibre of music journalism at Resident Advisor first before lecturing the rest of us, Whitney…
I made emphatically clear in the past few days that I will continue to cover things that go on inside the dance music press. Whilst I accepted a recent post on Resident Advisor’s editor was in poor taste, I make absolutely no apologies for holding the website – and others – to account.
So with that in mind, let’s get to the subject at hand. Now, this blog runs a weekly column called The Six On Saturday (That Aren’t From Me!). Its premise is simple – I review my favourite new releases a week. There’s aren’t always six releases featured and I don’t include anything which I was involved with.
Resident Advisor appear to think differently. What else could explain the decision to review the new EP by the blog-blocking Ash Lauryn? And naturally enough, the review is absolutely glowing, referencing her “clarity of purpose”. And yes, the review does point out she’s an occasional contributor to their website – but this doesn’t stop me believing it to be a conflict of interest.
In a way, it’s a pity that she’s blocked this blog from her life – because having listened to the EP, I actually think it’s pretty good. “Life Is Back”, the lead track, is probably my favourite of the bunch. Listen yourself and make your own minds up…
On Wednesday, someone was kind enough to send me a link to a file which contained the application form of Boiler Room for their bailout last year. I blogged about it then, much to everyone’s amusement.
What I forgot to mention was the papers for Resident Advisor were also included. And it would terrible shame for RA, as they call themselves, not to be part of the fun – so let’s have a look at some choice highlights. We’ll start with a snippet from the “Cultural Significance” section of the form, shall we?
They refer to the Save Our Scene movement, which was more to do with saving their own arses in the form of commission from ticket sales. They insultingly refer to Nottingham – which has its own cultural festival every year – as a city with “low levels of access to culture”.
And they have the sheer chutzpah to claim their “contribution to the national and international reputation of the cultural sector could not be replaced”. If they seriously believe this to be the case, Resident Advisor have well and truly disappeared up their own arses. Enron thought it was too big to fail – and look what happened.
Next up, the diversity section…
So Resident Advisor have increased their BAME and LGBTQI staff from 6 to 23. They don’t elaborate whether any of them were made redundant by the company earlier in 2020. And earlier in the application, the number of employees Resident Advisor has is blanked out. That means this number has no meaning whatsoever.
Now here’s an excerpt from someone who appears to have read the application and made some notes on it. Earlier on, they revealed the intriguing detail that Resident Advisor would have probably ran out of money by March 2021 had the application been refused. And then they went on to say this…
This seems to be an admission that Resident Advisor could yet be derailed by the repayments of loans taken out to get them through this period. However, no details are given on “how long reductions in salaries are likely to last”.
Regular readers will no doubt be aware by now of my views on Whitney Wei, the new editor of Resident Advisor. If you don’t – I think she’s a terrible editor. The only thing that’s changed since she was given the top job is there’s a lot more stories on the site about Berlin – the city which Wei has lived in for a few years now.
Recently, she told us she was on a mission to “raise the calibre of music journalism”. Well, if 5 Magazine’s latest spot is anything to go by, Wei is failing abysmally in her mission on her own patch.
One of their writers, Katie Thomas, has been caught red-handed lifting stories from 5 Magazine and then writing them up almost word for word on Resident Advisor. The first story was lifted three days after publication – no citation of sources, no new context or quotes added to the original story, nothing. The second was this…
According to Thomas’s Twitter profile, she also freelances for several of the other dance music press outlets. I get the feeling that Czarina Mirani, the lady in charge at 5 Magazine, won’t be hiring Thomas anytime soon…
How does lifting stories from other websites almost ad verbum sit alongside your vision of improving dance music journalism, Whitney?
Whitney Wei is keen to go down in history as someone who’s made things just a little bit better than they were before she came along. It appears that Resident Advisor’s new editor in chief isn’t content with just being, well, the new editor in chief at Resident Advisor. Doing one job and doing it well, it appears, is simply not enough.
Right now, Wei is certainly on a mission. According to her own Instagram page, she wishes to “raise the calibre of music journalism”. To help do this, she “filmed a spot for Tag Der ClubKultur”, a programme currently running in Berlin.
It’s all part of a promo for these grants of €10,000 for clubs and collectives across the German capital. And no, before anyone asks me, I haven’t got the faintest idea what this has to do with “raising the calibre of music journalism” either.
Whilst I applaud the enthusiasm and desire which Wei has to improve music journalism – much of it could hardly be worse, could it? – a quick word of advice. Get your own house in order first. It adds credibility to your message.