National Arts Journalism Program
2950 Broadway, Mail Code 7200
New York, NY 10027

tel: 212.854.1912, fax: 212.854.8129

Noise from Underground:
Pop Criticism and Cred in the Era of MP3s, Zines, and Blogs

March 29, 2005; 6:30 pm

Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism Lecture Hall, Third Floor
116th Street and Broadway
Admission free

STREAMING AUDIO AND MP3S ARE TRANSFORMING POP MUSIC, from indie-rock to hip hop. But what about those newly minted Web zines, blogs, and alt glossies poking into every nook and cranny of the music world? While the mainstream seems content to leaf through Rolling Stone and channel surf from MTV to VH1, these do-it-yourself publishing channels are busy creating a bewildering amount of chatter about music and contemporary culture.

These days, every aspiring pop critic can create his or her own soapbox. The resulting atmosphere is as fragmented as it is high-speed: A blogger shows up at a club, orders a beer, and reviews a show in real time. New trends break at a faster clip than ever before. How can anyone keep up? And which critical voice do you trust?

For the independent publisher, the zinester, the online gawker, the vintage vinyl collector, or the unknown turntablist, credibility remains the coin of the realm. Cred, after all, is what makes the underground so underground. But do these new voices ever permeate the mainstream? Are they gunning to take over? Are they speaking a new language of pop criticism? Or merely talking among themselves?

Bringing together writers, editors, and musicians, “Noise from Underground” is a welcome conversation about the present-day pop criticism whirlwind -- and whether cred is even cool anymore.


Sasha Frere-Jones, pop music critic, The New Yorker


Tunde Adebimpe, musician, TV on the Radio (Touch and Go Records)
Michael Azerrad, author of “Our Band Could Be Your Life” and editor in chief,
Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor, Rolling Stone; executive editor, Tracks; editor of "Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture" and author of "Rocking My Life Away"
Amy Phillips, blogger, More in the Monitor
Knox Robinson, editor in chief, The Fader
Brandon Wall, editor in chief, Prefix

For further information, see, or contact the National Arts Journalism Program at 212-854-2549 or

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