Why Music Reviews Still Matter In 2013

Music reviews matter. Or at least, I hope they do. However, when albums are streamed weeks before release, many claim that they don’t – but that argument is lazy. Laziness itself is why the art of reviewing is suffering.

We live in an increasingly impatient world that demands instant gratification. Some people shy away from reviews because, if well written, they take time to fully enjoy and ponder over. Reading a review takes more effort than acknowledging a recommendation sent with an emoji. However, restricting reviews to 140 characters would be like limiting songs to their iTunes previews. If we have time to take photos of our food, we’re not too busy to appreciate reviews.

The internet has robbed us of our patience, but it’s also given us the gift of accessibility. We can read critical opinions from all over the world in the palm of our hands. That IS exciting. When we can access so much material freely, it would be criminal to not take advantage of it. The freedom of the internet may have led to some poorly written articles and an overload of regurgitated PR fodder, but it’s also given a voice to those muted in magazines.

We, as music listeners, can seek out varying opinions on any band we like and stumble upon reviews of new artists we’ve never heard. The latter actually benefits from our incessant need for immediacy because we can start listening before we’ve even finished reading. If we like what we hear, we share our finding instantly via social media. Another friend soon takes notice before suggesting the artist to another who may convert another series of fans. Those further along the chain boldly claim that “Reviews don’t matter” unaware that they’ve been influenced, albeit indirectly. The likes of HAIM and The 1975 joined Radio 1 A-List thanks to being ‘hotly hyped’ – that hype was largely word-of-mouth but it undoubtedly snowballed from blogs.

Despite the vast amount of publications available to us, many continue to disregard reviews whenever they disagree with them – but they’re missing the point, and the fun. Reviews are for music fans to get political. They offer opinions, not the definitive truth. Reviews do not have to be accepted; they can be argued with, but they should still be appreciated. Journalists, critics and bloggers won’t stop writing reviews anytime soon, but it’ll be a sad shame if people stop reading them.

Writing about music is, as the saying goes, like dancing about architecture. Some say that it is pointless, pretentious and nonsensical but if you’re patient and open-minded, you might learn to love the ballerinas who evoke skyscrapers.

Do you still read music reviews?

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