At one point I wrote music reviews. However, about fifteen years ago, I became dissatisfied with doing so and stopped. However, for a while, I still read them. Today, I rarely do.
Today I think that the value of the music review is in decline.
Twenty years ago, back when music was relatively expensive, not only to buy, but just to find (it had a high acquisition cost), reviews had an important role. Buyers could read reviews, come up with a list of albums that they’d like to purchase, and then try to find these album in stores or via catalogs.
Today, when we are recommended music, it usually comes along with a sample that can be freely downloaded. Whether 30 seconds or a whole track, the sample is infinitely more valuable than the review, because you can hear the music and form your own opinion. And, music is fairly cheap. For a few bucks you can just download a whole album. At that point you don’t need the review.
That’s not to say that reviews are dead. Nor am I advocating that people should stop writing reviews. In fact, I think that vibrant reviews help the avant music ecosystem.
Perhaps my view on this topic is not representative of many, as one of the most popular topics on AMN is reviews. So, we’ll continue to link to reviews and review sites. Nonetheless, evolutionary forces have replaced reviews with something else, and that something else is often more useful.