EXTRA: Music Criticism Thriving!


December 16, 2007 by admin

Lately, it seems that many of the pieces that get linked to around here are about how dismal are the prospects of music criticism. The equation regarding criticism that is more than “consumer advocacy” seems to be: readers don’t want to read it, publishers don’t want to publish it, writers thus slouch in their duties to provide it. But are there counter-examples to this mentality and to this assumption? (And if so, where are they?) Anyone out there thinking otherwise?

3 thoughts on “EXTRA: Music Criticism Thriving!

  1. s woods says:

    We’re all doomed.

  2. Alex Rawls says:

    I’m not sure it was ever significantly different. I’d like to think there was once a greater interest and affection for critical writing about music, but I suspect that the preference has always been for consumer guide-like writing. What has changed is that the Internet makes it easier for those who dislike it to voice their displeasure.

  3. Fred Mills says:

    As realtors are wont to say “location, location, location!”, coverage-impaired editors say “wordcount, wordcount, wordcount!” That is, the very real pressure is to have as many artist features and CD reviews as possible in any given issue, but with most magazines remaining static in their page size (a lot are shrinking, actually, thanks to a stagnating ad base for music-based print publications), in order to cover MORE, you have to write LESS. So you can do the math: cut that 6k feature down to 3k and add three smaller features; dump the 400 word CD review format and make ’em all 150.

    And readers barely even notice it, because they have already been conditioned to expect shorter, quick in/quick out, 3 1/2 star rated, consumer guide type reviews (not to mention boilerplate interviews with artists that clock in at 300 words max). This is called the “USA Today-ification” of music criticism — and yes, I hold those clowns who pass themselves off as critics at that paper responsible — and it has already infected the whole milieu of rock writing. Open up an issue of Blender or the once-credible Mojo: their reviews (what, like, 75 words in length now?) are absolutely worthless. That is, unless you just glance at ’em for the starred ratings…. Bah.

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