RA's editorial refers to our coverage of electronic music, whatever form it may take. Our editorial team—which includes everyone working on reviews, features, news, films, podcasts and RA picks—operates under its own set of guidelines and commitments.
This outline summarizes RA's approach to editorial integrity, which we'd define as the ways our editorial team maintains its independence and manages potential conflicts of interest. These are principles and processes we've been honing for years, and that we are making public as part of the commitments to greater transparency we announced in June of 2020. What you have below is our way of ensuring, as much as possible, that our coverage is honest, accurate and independent.
RA's business model
RA is an independent company that makes its revenue through ads, ticket sales, partnerships and events. While our editorial content is central to the value of our overall product, we do not generate revenue from any editorial content directly (aside from sponsored content, which we'll explain below). Our decisions of who and what to cover are made purely with our audience in mind. If we're showing you something, it's because we're genuinely excited about it and we think you should know about it.
All departments at RA collaborate with each other, and the editorial team is no exception. On important issues that affect everyone in the company, our editors will work with other staff to make sure their perspectives are represented in our messaging. But in all circumstances, our editors have final say over what RA publishes.
Our writers and editors are never forced or unduly pressured by people in or outside the company to publish anything they don't believe in, nor can they be pressured to cover anything in a particular way. It's not possible for anyone to secure a review, feature, news story or any other form of editorial content by paying or otherwise compensating RA. This is true for artists, labels, promoters and publicists, as well as RA's commercial partners. RA staff do receive free music (more on that below) and guestlist to events, but never in exchange for coverage.
RA has ticketing and commercial partnerships with clubs, festivals and promoters around the world. These commercial relationships make it inevitable that RA will run editorial content about its partners. But our coverage is never influenced by a need to please our partners.
Sometimes RA's commercial staff will pass on pitches from their clients to the editorial team. When they do so, they are required to disclose the business relationship related to the pitch, and to notify the partner that the editorial team has the right to reject their pitch. Specific coverage cannot be guaranteed in contracts, and partners may not request edits to what we write about their events, except to make corrections for accuracy.
Coverage related to RA, its staff and contributors
RA staff writers and freelancers must always disclose conflicts of interest. They may never write about anything related to their own past or current projects, or anything related to people with whom they are friends. From a journalistic standpoint, personal connections can be useful and provide a valuable level of perspective, trust and access. Friendships, which we'd define as a personal relationship that continues outside of professional settings, are different, and represent a non-negotiable conflict of interest. In short, RA writers may not write about themselves or their friends.
We will, very rarely, write about music or projects involving RA staff or contributors. We only do this when we think we'd be doing our audience a disservice by ignoring their music. Even then, the subject would have to be pitched and written by someone without a personal connection to the staff member or contributor. In these cases, the connection between RA and the subject matter will always be disclosed.
RA also hosts its own events as well as partnerships and stages with festivals. While we will post about our events and work with festivals on the site and on social media, we do not publish reviews of them.
Promos and publicists
RA writers and editors receive free music (promos) every week, whether from artists and labels themselves or from publicists paid by those artists and labels. In most cases, we receive promos without asking for them. We have no obligation to review any music that's been sent to us. There is no quid pro quo with regard to promos and coverage.
Some publicists pitch ideas to us for features and podcasts. While we prioritize our own ideas and the ideas of freelance writers, we will agree to a pitch from a publicist if it aligns with our own existing ideas for coverage. In these cases, the publicist's role is mostly to plan interviews and other logistics on behalf of the artist. It does sometimes happen that they try to push a particular angle or focus of coverage. But here, as in all other cases, we maintain creative and editorial control over what we publish.
While a lot of great music comes through promo services, we are careful not to rely on them too much. Our reviewers and our editors all dig for music day to day and make sure we are covering artists and labels not supported by these paid services.
Sponsored Content and Paid Partnerships
Occasionally RA publishes content we have made in collaboration with brand partners and other third parties. These fall into two main categories. One is sponsored content, also known as a paid partnership. An example of this is our award-winning series of films on Japanese listening bars, which we made with Asahi. The process for publishing this content—which is labelled clearly on the site and social media as “sponsored content” or “paid partnership”—is collaborative from start to finish, which means we take input from third parties, though RA’s editorial team maintains final control of anything published on the site.
RA will also work with brands and other organisations on new creative projects and existing content series in a way that’s signposted on the site as “in partnership with” or “supported by.” An example of this is our ongoing Rewind series with Discogs, and it also applies to partnerships with funding organisations like the UK’s Arts Council. In these cases, once the outline of the project is agreed, RA’s editorial team will produce the content in the way it does for regular content: independently, without feedback from the partner.
We strive to report news in a fair, accurate and timely fashion. We value original reporting, which means we will chase down original quotes and new information for our news stories whenever necessary.
Much of our news is announcing new releases and events. Sometimes, though, we end up reporting on more serious and complex issues taking place in, or intersecting with, the electronic music community. With stories like these, we will always prioritize accuracy and fairness over speed, for instance by corroborating as much info as possible and offering principal subjects in the story a right to reply.
We will often update a news piece to include relevant quotes or context that wasn't available at the time of publication. When this happens the news will include a note stating that it has been updated.
Promoting racial equity
Resident Advisor supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We have made it part of our mission as a publication to recenter artists of color and work against the whitewashing of dance music, which we ourselves have long been a part of. This is a guiding principle in our day-to-day decisions of who and what to cover. You can read more about our commitments to promoting racial equity in this statement from our editors.
We acknowledge there may be instances in the past when we did not follow these guidelines. What we've outlined here are long-held principles, but they've been tweaked and improved over time as necessary. This is, and will always be, an ongoing process, and we welcome your participation in it.
If you have any questions about RA's editorial integrity, please email us and we will do our best to answer them. We also welcome your feedback on how we can improve or better follow these guidelines.