Are Record Reviews Still Relevant?

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Let me repeat the question:  Are record reviews still relevant – and more specifically – to whom?

Is the role of print media as a consumer guide to music still relevant – and if so, to whom?

What if I said that young media professionals don’t see the record review as relevant?

What if I said that the notion of print media as a consumer guide is coming to an end much faster than some of us are prepared for?

Over the past several years I’ve been quite adamant that what people want to read about is the person behind the music, not the music – or especially what someone thinks about music personally.  After all, who cares what someone else has to say about a record – or a performance?  Isn’t the more important perspective that of the person partaking in the experience?

In an era of YouTube, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and Spotify, do we really need print media to “educate” us on what’s good, or not?

What role should print media fill, as it relates to the intersection between the record/show and the consumer?  Who’s more important – the print media, or the fan who told their friends on Instagram (with pics) about this badass band they just saw?

For the past 40+ years that I’ve been in the music business, and in media, we have used print as a way to promote ourselves as musicians – and our records, and our shows.  But what happens when no one is actually reading the paragraph describing the music in flowery terms?  What if it has all of a sudden become irrelevant?  What if it wasn’t the music people were interested in to begin with, but the actual PERSONAL and INTIMATE lives of the people behind the music?

I say this because I had an interesting meeting yesterday, at which I learned that the era I grew up with – and continue to exploit – may be coming to a very swift close.  As was expressed to me (and yes, I’m paraphrasing), “I am not a critic.  I am a journalist.  I wish to write about interesting events, and interesting people.  The reader can discover the music without my help.”

What would happen if Westword stopped publishing reviews?  Who would care?  Would you?boninwf back stage nite 1 2012

 

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