The Defected backed Faith fanzine doesn’t confront the big issues facing dance music, nor ask any difficult questions in its puff piece interviews – so what IS the point of it?

Today is the first regular day of 2024 for most of the UK – with the exception of Scotland, who get another bank holiday to enjoy. It’s the day when many in the dance music business world trudge back to their desks after a long holiday for Christmas and the New Year – but the start of another year doesn’t mean questions from the old one magically disappear.

One man who’ll be all too aware that a new year doesn’t mean a new leaf is Wez Saunders – the head honcho at Defected. 2023 was a good year for his company, with lots of new music being released, lots of old music being released again, and probably more events than the business has ever held before – but Saunders is not the type of man to rest on his laurels.

Whilst Ears To The House understands that Defected remains a very profitable organisation, we also know that they operate in an industry where costs have increased substantially over the past two years – and the numbers people at the company will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the bank balance. In other words, everything needs to bring in its fair share of money.

Something which brings in no money at all for Defected – bar any voluntary contributions anyone wishes to make – is the Faith fanzine. Launched during the pandemic in the autumn of 2020, it was a relaunch of a magazine that first came about in 1999 – and the very first editorial published in issue one had this to say…

“Why bother doing a fanzine anyway? The war against Corporate Dance Music PLC has long been lost. Radio One has turned dance into something it can programme, the majors can sell, & use on TOTP. We lost Kiss in London… People fought hard to get a legal dance station and it was stolen by money men: say hi to Britney Spears and Fatboy Slim… It’s over. WHY BOTHER?

Maybe it was the deafening silence of the established music mags – Mixmag, Dj, etc to the ridiculous fee’s being charged for NYE 1999 £100 a time for a DJ you can hear the following month for a tenner! Or the obscene amounts very rich Dj’s were getting. Never have so few owed so much to so many…”

If you substitute the NYE 1999 topic for something more current, this sounds almost exactly like what Ears To The House says nowadays. But since the relaunch of Faith back in 2020 under the leadership of Terry Farley and with Defected backing it financially, what exactly has the self-declared fanzine been campaigning on?

The answer, as far as we can tell, is absolutely nothing. On every single big issue in dance music over the past few years, Faith has responded with silence. Plague raves during the pandemic? Nothing to say. DJs increasing their fees by ridiculous proportions during a cost of living crisis? No comment.

The ongoing commercialisation of dance music? Nada. DJs playing at propaganda festivals like MDL Beast designed to make some very insidious governments look good? They haven’t written a word on the subject. The phenomenon of Instagram and TikTok DJs who are playing purely for the camera and for likes? Again, the response is silence.

This year, they’ve managed to print just two issues of the publication – which is frankly pathetic. How on earth can a magazine that gets published once every six months be in touch with the ever-moving and ever-changing world of dance music? The answer is it cannot – and Faith knows it.

Hence why on the rare occasion that they bother to send an issue to the printers, it’s filled with puff pieces and interviews so gentle that even Mixmag’s pliant writers would cringe with embarrassment. What a shameful indictment for a publication originally launched to challenge “the deafening silence of the established music magazines” on the big issues of the day.

So how long will Defected continue to fund the magazine? It remains to be seen – and for the record, Ears To The House has not heard anything suggesting it’s in line for the axe. But it’s no secret that Wez Saunders is a more commercially driven character than his predecessor – and will he want to continue paying out in the long term for a twice-yearly magazine that has failed miserably to live up to its ideals?

Only time will tell…

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