There have been more independent releases than major label releases. There’s been a glut of music, and the proportion of good stuff to, well, let’s just call it “the other stuff” is basically the same. So there’s vastly more music to wade through. And now the same is true of music criticism: now that anybody can do it, everybody is doing it. That’s proven to be a double-edged sword.
I’m always very careful to make the distinction between music criticism and music journalism. A lot of people don’t. But criticism doesn’t require reporting. You can write criticism at home in your underwear. On the other hand, journalism takes legwork — you have to get out there and see things and talk to people. And that takes resources for travel and hotels and other expenses. And because music magazines have taken a financial hit in recent years, music journalism has taken a hit too. It’s just much cheaper and more page-view-friendly to run a review or a listicle.
And even criticism has taken a hit: For a while now, many music publications — including really major ones like Rolling Stone, Time, and Entertainment Weekly — have reduced their reviews to a paragraph or so. That can make for some pithy, witty writing, but it takes more words than that to spin out something truly thoughtful. A lot of music fans are still interested in insightful perspectives on music — maybe even more interested than ever, since everyone needs help making sense of the incredible variety of sounds that have sprung up in the wake of the internet revolution. There’s a lot of room for unique, qualified voices who can provide good reads. And musicians are an excellent source for all those qualities. Musicians think and talk about music all day, so they have lots of practice discussing it. They hear lots of new stuff and find out about it before most people. They certainly know how the sausage is made. And guess what: a lot of them can write really well.
Continue reading the rest of the story on Billboard