This is WACTAC’s interview with the self-proclaimed “internet’s busiest music nerd” Anthony Fantano. He is the creator of The Needle Drop and regularly updates with new reviews. His website’s gotten popular for its unique reviewing style and honest perspective.
WACTAC: What inspired you to approach reviewing music in a video format?
Fantano: I was aggravated that my blog and podcast weren’t gaining any traffic. I was forced to come up with another avenue and take a chance. I had noticed that there were numerous people typing their opinions onto music blogs–and some of them I had been following for a while–but I didn’t really know any of them, ya know? Of course, the people who watch me on a regular basis don’t know me either, but I think they come a little closer to that than they would have if I just reviewed things via text.
It’s easier to relate to a person than it is a logo or a block of text. That’s what I went into my videos suspecting. I put myself on camera because I want my videos to be as personal as possible. I link my face and my voice with my opinions because I really mean what I say. Not to make it seem like my texted-based brethren are lying. That’s not the case. It’s just that I personally feel that having the viewer see that I’m excited–or depressed–over a new album makes the difference.
W: It seems like a bit of comedy works its way into your reviews. Is this a conscious decision or is that just natural?
F: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Yeah, Cal Chuchesta is some implied comedy. But when I make mistakes–like mispronunciations or “misinformations”–that’s a different kind of comedy that my viewers also seem up for, hah. Yeah, some of the jokes are bad, and some flubs are in my videos as well, but they’re not the primary focus of the videos. The opinions and the music are ultimately what matters, and I think a majority of my viewers feel the same way. As far as mistakes go, they are what they are. We all make them.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody. The best thing to do is learn from your missteps and continue forward.
W: Are there any particular critics who inspire you?
F: No, not when I started, anyway. Once I started reviewing albums through video, I became conscious of other reviewers who had their own creative spins on reviewing things. I’m talking about guys like Gary Vaynerchuck and the Angry Video Game Nerd. These guys are personality powerhouses, and well-known in their respective arenas.
Guys like that inspire me on a regular basis. As far as music critics go, I think I have to give kudos to the numerous blogs and websites I read on a regular basis. Every site I read constantly is linked on http://theneedledrop.comtheneedledrop.com. Bloggers and even people doing things on a more professional level at NPR Music influence my tastes, but that’s the way the blogosphere, to me, works. People are turning each other on to music, and championing artists they thing are worthy of fans.
My final inspiration–who are also critics in their own right–have to be my viewers who recommend music to me. Whether they think so or not, they criticize what they listen to on a regular basis. Then they’re thoughtful enough to share what they think is worthwhile with me. Even if I don’t like what’s being suggested, it’s great to see people using the net to spread the word about music they love.
W: Have you ever done a review that later on your opinion completely changed?
F: I’d like to think of my reviews as snapshots in time of how I felt about an album in that particular moment. Of course I worry about whether or not I’m gonna like something tomorrow or a year down the road, but if my opinion ultimately changes, I’m not all that worried about it; the truth is it was bound to happen anyway.
It would be nice to know that fifty years from now I’m going to love LCD Soundsystem’s latest album with the same passion I do now, but there’s no way that can be guaranteed. Our tastes and views are constantly changing as we gain new experiences in life.
That being said, yeah, my opinion has changed, but not to a surprisingly large degree. I think I like the new Joanna Newsom less than I originally did. I know I like the new Gorillaz album a lot more than I originally did, too. The new Africa Hitech album grew on me this year as well!
W: What advice would you give to all the teen bands in the world?
F: If you wanna make a living making music, that means succeeding, but success doesn’t come easy. Don’t expect your first ten songs to get you where you wanna go. Making it in the entertainment industry means hard work, consistency, and fine-tuning.
You can’t just write ten songs and expect to get huge–especially in the internet age. The number of musicians that’s happened to is very small.
It’s 2011! Make music, use social media to get fans, interact with those fans, and share your music to them as if it’s a gift. Let their excitement propel you to popularity. That popularity will aid in your ability to become successful as an artist.
It’s a deep, arduous, and involved process, but I think that’s the best break down of it I can do!
To finish, I’d like to say thanks to you guys for doing the interview! I’d like to thank my viewers, because you brought TND to where it is today, and I’d like to give thanks to anyone who read this article. Have a good day. Love music. Eat vegetables.