Posted by s woods on March 1, 2013
My professional guidance to rock critics, since before the Internet, was: Don’t become one. It’s a useful thing to tell people because the ones that really don’t want to will fall by the wayside, and the ones who do want to will defy you and get better anyway. Of course, I’m being somewhat comic. I wasn’t quite that absolute. But this is a very hard way to make a living, that’s what I would tell people, especially if you want to write well, because the good stuff is getting squeezed out. And it far precedes the Internet, but the Internet just put wheels on it.
Concision and Clarity: Robert Christgau reflects on the art of writing well about music (interview by Brett Anderson)
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Posted by s woods on February 19, 2013
But I hedged my bet right from the beginning too, and kept my day job at the welfare department all the way through, as I was a family man and it provided regular income and medical coverage, etc. That job also gave me another kind of coverage, as a rock critic, as since my writing didn’t furnish my primary income, I could be very choosy who I wrote about. When Creem offered me (among many others) Journey’s management’s junket-to-San-Fran to featureize Steve Perry & co., I could stop believin’ right away and say “NO!” It was fine with me if Journey got written up in Creem, but I didn’t want my byline on the piece. I reserved that for say, a $5. Rock-a-Rama (capsule review) of Nina Hagen, one of my heroine-addictions of the time.
- Richard Riegel, Where Did (My) Zeitgeist Go?
I’d never seen this piece before (it’s from the blogger’s section of Rock’s Backpages) — rockcritics‘ fave rave, Richard Riegel, just having devoured Chuck Eddy’s latest critical tome, reflects on his own career/half-career in music criticism.
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Posted by s woods on February 4, 2013
Interview with Maura Johnston regarding her new online venture, Maura Magazine.
I really wanted to see if this model would work. I’ve been on the Internet for 20 years. I started doing Web stuff in 1994 and I always loved that you could find weird stuff — boutiques interests that people just wanted to put on the Web. And I feel like with the push to constantly grow pageviews and always shoot for the stars or shoot for the 18-34 male demographic that seems like the default of Internet culture, you lose a lot of the stuff that made the Web an interesting place to be and burrow down. In a curious way — not in the, ‘Oh my god, this is so weird — look at this stupid idiot’ kind of way.
Issue list for Maura Magazine. (You can preview articles but, far as I can tell, need an iPhone or iPad to read the entire thing.)
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Posted by s woods on December 7, 2011
Richard Riegel writes:
“I’m really impressed with Jennifer Szalai’s review of a collection of Dwight Macdonald’s criticism, in the December 12 issue of The Nation, the paper version of which I still subscribe to. It’s a good discussion about Macdonald himself, and his concepts of ‘Midcult’ and ‘Masscult,’ but Szalai’s comments about the current state of criticism are even better for our purposes. She’s talking about literary criticism, of course, but a lot of what she says applies to rock criticism & its fade too. I’d been thinking all along that ‘we’ were being hollowed out by the general economic decline, and that’s exactly what Szalai says here, especially in the two paragraphs I’ve excerpted below:
If one were to point out that the wider authority of literary criticism is barely discernible today, one could hardly be accused of courting a controversy or kicking up a fuss. There certainly is a coterie of Americans for whom literature and its criticism is a matter of urgency or livelihood or both, but the notion of the literary critic as a cultural gatekeeper, whose judgments shape tastes and move units, sounds either fanciful or anachronistic, depending on whether you believe that such a creature ever really existed. Our culture is now so big and so varied, the population so diverse and so fragmented, that the very idea of anything or anyone having “wider authority” sounds silly, if not absurd.
The critical landscape has since been denuded of a whole class of reviewers — the professional critics for those many newspapers and magazines that have cut down their books pages or else eliminated them. Optimists have pointed to the proliferation of online reviews as an indication that criticism is flourishing, but the payment for most reviewing these days is meager to nil. When writing a review becomes a diversion instead of a vocation, or else an arena for book authors to horse-trade and log-roll—the literary world’s penurious equivalent of the financial world’s “revolving door” — then reviewing will list toward clubbiness, bitterness or mushy praise. There are clearly some brilliant exceptions, and even a few determined critics who make a living from reviewing; but like the society of which it is one minuscule part, criticism has largely become a winner-take-all profession. Those who wonder what happened to criticism should wonder what happened to the economics of it.
Posted in Economics, Links, What's Wrong with Rock Criticism? | 10 Comments »