So tonight at 7:30 at USC's Annenberg School, I'll be participating in a forum on the future of music criticism. Organized by the L.A. Times' chief pop critic Ann Powers, the panel discussion features fellow L.A. Weekly contributors Ernest Hardy and Oliver Wang; Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page; Eric Weisbard, organizer of the Experience Music Project “Pop Conference”; as well as writers from Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, and City Beat.

Here are the details, and the premise, written by Powers, that we'll riff on.

“The death of the critic” has become a catchphrase in discussing

how the Internet has affected arts writing, nowhere more so than in music journalism. The avalanche of blogs written by everyone from veteran writers to neophytes has called into

question the need for professional music writers. The availability of music on the Internet challenges the old idea that criticism is at heart about description and assessment: why would a reader need someone else's words about a song when she can just listen herself? And the shrinking availability of space in print publications, combined with the widespread belief that readers online have the attention spans of toddlers, has made it hard to justify long-form essays on music or anything else.

Yet music writing continues to have an important presence in the culture, and arguably is a primary pioneering form, allowing for writers to experiment with the new frameworks the Internet demands. At the same time, more great music books are being published than ever, and general interest publications are publishing more writers on pop music.

So is music criticism dying or being reborn? A panel of professional critics and writers will discuss the perils and possibilities.

Participants include:

Oliver Wang (, Cal State Long Beach)

Tim Page (USC Annenberg)

Natalie Nichols (City Beat,

Ayala Ben-Yehuda (Billboard)

Ernest Hardy (LA Weekly)

Chris Willman (Entertainment Weekly)

Lorraine Ali (Newsweek)

Randall Roberts (LA Weekly)

Eric Weisbard (organizer of the Experience Music Project “Pop


To view a collection of recent articles on the topic, please visit

Led by Ann Powers, pop music critic of The Los Angeles Times and 2008 Resident of The Popular Music Project. Must RSVP to attend. Refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 @ 7:30PM

Annenberg Building Room 207

Please RSVP to

The Popular Music Project (PMP) is a one-stop home for the interdisciplinary study and analysis of popular music. For more information about PMP, visit

For more information about the USC Norman Lear Center and its projects, visit us at or email us at

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

LA Weekly