Like many other industries, the music business has struggled in 2020. Live venues are struggling. The magazine scene is all but gone. Artists are finding ways to keep projects alive amidst lockdowns. But few are better positioned to succeed in these trying times than YouTube music critic Anthony Fantano (also known online as theneedledrop), the self-proclaimed busiest music nerd on the internet.
The 34-year-old has been staring into a camera and reviewing music on his channel for over a decade. Despite not being affiliated with the traditional powerhouses of the music journalism world, his reviews have real influence on his audience.
From a New York Times profile of Fantano:
Dev Lemons, a musician and college student whose @SongPsych account does bite-size criticism by-way-of music theory and news, called Fantano “a celebrity and an authority” among her cohort. “I know so many people that just won’t listen to something because Anthony Fantano was like, ‘It’s not worth your time,’” she said, noting that she has “looked into Pitchfork before,” but mainly consumes video reviews.
We talked with Fantano about the art of an online music critique, how he built his online presence and the state of the industry in 2020.