Music Reviews in today’s music world. By Jerry W. Henry
Music reviews keep you posted on new artists or bands. Seems simple enough, right? I have a need to introduce you to new artists or established artists with new material. Reviews will keep you current in this big world of music. The importance of music is different in every individual's life. I know you are not as immersed in music to the degree that I am, but regardless if you are reading this, you are a music lover.
I’m not making any money out of promoting hot new artists or bands. I do it because of my love for music! I love music but I don’t love bad music. Yes, I said it, not all music is good. I listen to the bad stuff but don’t review it. I see no need in perpetuating the bad. I truly try to be as honest as possible. Plus, most reputable magazines and newspapers are careful not to mislead.
Back when musical taste was less fragmented, a review was more likely to influence buying decisions. Back then, music reviews were more critical. Today, I am asked, almost daily, why I didn’t review a certain release. There are so many music releases that even Pitchfork can only cover a small fraction of them. I try to review as many local artists as possible in the Tannehill Trader, an Alternative Publication with a Hometown Appeal. I do reviews for other publications but none other locally.
An album has to make a “splash” of some kind to even get reviewed. Often, that “splash” has to do with the album being good. I am told that music reviewers of Top 40 music are fewer in numbers these days and certainly less influential than those of us who write about music that sells poorly. We are effectively exploiting subcultures.
These days we are writing a different type of review than the ones designed to answer the question “should I buy it?” Today we review to get you interested in something with which you are unfamiliar. A music review usually tells you that if you like A then you should check out B.
I may be the first to admit; music reviewers are likely to only review music they think they’ll like. Music reviewers are generally part of the music scene and one of the reasons music reviews on a local level are so glowingly positive, especially in major cities. Many just don’t bother reviewing the bad bands. It all comes down to why waste time talking about what to not listen to when there is such a massive number of bands worth hearing?
Music journalism has always been a very expressive medium as compared to news, sports, editorials and such. Humans are good at language and plenty of us appreciate it when it's used to express our likes and loves. If done well, it rises to the top and actually gets read.
What do readers want? Reviews without corporate interests? Honesty? Freshness? Passion? A good read? Is it real? Can I relate? Reviewers readily understand reviews are generally read to reinforce opinions.
What do I want? I want more people to hear more music. I write reviews because I love music. I like writing and I like being able to express myself with matters of music. I don’t write reviews to help bands (although that is a by-product), I write reviews because I feel compelled to do so. I enjoy creating something that has consumed me since puberty. Reviews require an amount of hard work, raw skill, discipline and integrity. I feel reviews are needed. I am good at it.
There are less young people becoming music journalists. The reason is simple there is less media with less payroll than days gone by. The lack of inspiration for young writers plays a role in the type of music writers we will see in the future.
Without music critics there is no community experience. Which would mean we are talking to ever decreasing circles. The result; we become unfocused. No longer will we see music as a potentially revolutionary social force.
Published in Tannehill Trader June 2012