Are reviews necessary anymore?

I've been thinking of doing record reviews on these pages along with the other material. But I'm beginning to wonder if there's any point. Isn't the very concept of the record review outdated?

I realise I'm probably retreading comfortable ground here, but it used to be that customers had access to a limited number of records at relatively high cost, and needed a guiding hand as to what records were good enough to buy. Then the number of releases grew to the point where reviews also singled out what was important and worthwhile to look at, and evaluation became less important. Now we're able to access a staggering number of records for free at the click of a button - and music journalism has shaped itself accordingly.

Today, the chief function of the music journalist is to suggest music for you to get hold of and (hopefully) to contextualise it, rather than tell you if it's any good. The infinite column space of the Internet makes blogs and feature articles (possibly hidden in blog form) a much more natural medium to do this in. With the consumer information aspect dead and the larger tasks of cultural criticism and tastemaking taken over by other forms, what role does the review actually have left?

Note that this is not at all the case in, say, video games, where reviews are still very much relevant. But console games are, of course, still relatively few in number and difficult to get hold of for free.

1 comment:

Comb & Razor said...

i agree with you 100%...

i used to make part of my living reviewing music, but i haven't done it in a while. partially because the jobs seem to be drying up, and partially because i just can't see the point of it.

especially online. in fact, to some degree, i think people are almost annoyed by lengthy reviews online, unless they are followed by a link to download the music. you might as well just say "here's the music... what do YOU think?"

and it's kinda sad, in a way... because i LOVE music reviews.