Home > Author blabber > The Role of the Music Critic (and Why We Don’t Really Matter)

The Role of the Music Critic (and Why We Don’t Really Matter)

Tono Carbajo "No Title"I’ve been writing this music blog for nearly two years now but haven’t delved too deeply into the reason of why.  Although I don’t work for any magazine, website, or any other type of publication I feel this need to type a lot of words about music I find along the way.  I hope to address a little bit about why I do it and its true function to the world (if any is to be found).

But before I go on, let me give some props to Tono Carbajo and his untitled work with vinyl for the image.  You can see more vinyl-related art here.

To begin, I am not sure if I even like the words ‘music critic’.  I consider myself a music enthusiast who likes to write in his spare time.  I have bought hundreds of albums, gone to plenty of shows while standing or sitting, and have dabbled with the guitar in the past.  I mainly listen to a lot of rock and punk but really appreciate jazz, reggae, and soul music.  I’ve disliked a lot of modern artists but have still found some that give me plenty of enjoyment.  As a music critic/enthusiast, my writing is secondary to my deep appreciation of the composition of sounds that other people make.

The music critic is not a position of great stature.  It may sound like something enviable because everyone enjoys music and, in the age of the Ipod, likely wouldn’t mind listening to music constantly.  However, unlike the casual listener who can simply shrug and say “yeah, sounds cool” or “ehh, boring”, a music critic chooses to use complete sentences and attempt to back up their claims with evidence.  Whether anyone bothers to read all of those words is besides the point; the critic wishes to write an essay so that their creatively thinking mind is out there like a speech.

Not everyone is going to agree with what a music critic has to say, of course.  Why should they?  Why should it matter if they do or don’t?  It doesn’t.  I could pan every album that was ever created just to be the most superior music snob ever and it wouldn’t make any difference what readers had to say in response.  It’s my opinion!  On another tack, it shouldn’t make any sort of difference what I had to say to the readers.  To them I would be just some dude with a keyboard who, although over the top, is merely spewing his opinion out into the void.

To get all riled up over a music critic’s opinion is a waste of time.  Clearly you are in command of your own taste.  My opinion is no greater than yours and, in turn, your opinion has a fringe effect on mine.  Swaying someone is more along  the lines of saying to oneself “Okay, if Johnny says mustard on his sandwiches tastes fantastic then what the heck, I’ll try it just this once”.  That’s it!  A person’s choice to act on another person’s review of a sensory product is whimsical.  Johnny can’t make you put mustard on your sandwich, but instead can only suggest it if you’re willing to listen.

Anyone could be a music critic.  One just has to pop a CD in the player or queue up some mp3s, give the record a few spins, and throw some words down.  I’ve seen reviews that are a few pages, a few paragraphs, or just a few sentences long.  Some people choose to analytically dissect a record while profusely discussing an artist’s supposed meaning behind song titles and lyrics, whereas others hack together some words while getting the general idea out whether they really liked or hated an album.  I like to try for the middle ground so that the general public can catch my drift without rambling on for too long.  I also try not to get too opinionated so as to push out any particular view, because I know that for every record I listen to someone out there really loves it while someone else thinks it’s absolute garbage.  There’s usually something worthy in every artistic body of work, even if it’s tough to find.

Ultimately, my only goal is to use my words to get someone to think about listening to a tune or two from a featured artist.  I highly doubt I can get someone to buy a record based on my words alone, but if I convince a reader to make their own opinion by clicking on a link to read or listen to a musician’s work then I am successful.  You may or may not agree with my opinion, but that’s not the point of this music critic.  I am a promoter of music for artists that do not pay me.  If you end up supporting them by buying a record or seeing a show then I will have quietly played my part to contribute to the arts.

Therefore, I’m not sure if my title of this post is really accurate.  Music critics do matter, but not for their opinions.  They matter due to their assistance of musical exposure.  Whether an artist is loved or hated, the words of a music critic can be a catalyst to inspire a reader to experience new music.  I am more than happy to help in that regard.

Thanks for reading.

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