Music reviews seem to be less popular these days compared to decades ago. Is there a reason for this or has music just become so diverse that it’s impossible to review all genres? Perhaps it’s because there’s too much music being uploaded daily to platforms, so reviewers can’t possibly keep up?
What are music reviews?
Writers with a background in music would often review tracks or albums that were newly released. Everything about the tracks would be looked into closely. They’d listen to the lyrics, the beat and review every detail about the song itself. Along with this, the artwork would be reviewed and also the artist themselves. Whether it be a record or a CD, a reviewer would carefully listen to each track multiple times until they had formed an independent opinion on them.
They may compare them to other tracks by different artists or perhaps previous albums by the same artist. They’d then be able to put together a full report of their findings and whether they think it’s worth listening to. Value for money would be brought into it and the piece would be as unbiased as possible. By this, I mean they can’t fairly review music by an artist they strongly dislike and compare it to their favourite artists. Instead, they would have to go into it with a completely unbiased opinion and form it purely based on the music itself.
Where did they go?
It seems music reviews have dwindled. They aren’t as common as they once were. This could be for many reasons. Firstly there is far too much music becoming available each day for music reviewers to ever keep up. I guess they could stick to one genre and focus on reviewing new music within that category. However, unless you pick something really niche, it’s unlikely you’d be able to cover it all. After all, every genre has artists from all over the world. You’d really have to define your category if you wanted to start reviewing music.
Another major factor which can’t be overlooked is how accessible music is now. Why would you spend all your time reading reviews about tracks you can listen to yourself? You have the chance to form your own opinion very quickly these days with the help of streaming apps and platforms. Previously, you would have read a music review to see if it was perhaps worth you going out and spending money on a physical copy of certain music. That’s because things weren’t digital. Instead, you could only hear it through vinyl or CDs. You’d want to know it was worth buying before you went and purchased it.
We also have the fact that with physical copies being fewer these days, you get less artwork with each album. You of course still see the artist’s artwork within the album cover on streaming platforms. However, you no longer have it printed along with tracklists and other extras. CDs would come with small booklets, perhaps including the lyrics to each track. These are things that could be added to the review, looking into the graphics and design elements. However, they’re a thing of the past.
Do we need music reviews?
Are they necessary now? Or, can we move away? It seems we’re all music critics these days. We can all form our own opinion on new releases, so we don’t have to rely on the words of other people just because they have a background in music. Of course, this isn’t to suggest we can’t enjoy reading music reviews. If they interest you then go for it. After all, some people genuinely just enjoy comparing their opinions with others. That’s why music forums will possibly always be popular within the industry. People enjoy discussing the ins and outs of music production.
There doesn’t seem to be the space for them in the way there used to. Despite many people still enjoying reading the opinions of those in the know. It doesn’t deflect from the fact that people can form their own opinions, so we don’t need professionals telling us what we should and shouldn’t like any more. It used to be a huge blow if you’d spent months preparing a release to then have it ripped apart by a music reviewer. Thankfully these days, while you’ll always have harsh critics, you’ll also always guarantee support from your fans.