Is music journalism really a career for an adult?

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It seems that that's the direction I'm going in at the moment. Things seem to be working out for me in that someone seems to have recently decided that it's in their interest to start paying me to write reviews/features/interview bands etc.

However, I'm starting to have doubts and I'm not entirely sure this is what I want to do.
a) I feel like something of a fraud, having a somewhat shallower musical knowledge than I feel I should have for this job.
BUT more importantly
b) Is this really what grown-ups do? Making a living vicariously through the success (or lack thereof) of pop bands seems a tad juvenile to me.

Don't get me wrong I love listening to music but I'm not entirely sure I want it to become my life and/or become one of those types of cunts from the NME or wherever that appear as commentators on these god-awful top-100 whatever programs on Channel4.

it may not work out for me anyway and I may thus be forced to redirect myself anyway, but as things are, this seems to be the proverbial path of least resistance.

This has become a far longer introspective than I had planned. Well, no matter.

uptoeleven (uptoeleven), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:18 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Making a living vicariously through the success (or lack thereof) of pop bands seems a tad juvenile to me.

Making a living as a sports writer is the zenith of juvenile. But there's tons of adults doing it.

George the Animal Steele, Friday, 25 November 2005 19:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Indeed.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"adult" is a pretty meaningless and subjective term once you get past the legal definition.

the jews (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

LISTEN TO THE JEWS

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

BTW I didn't mean that as an attack on music journalists per se - there are a great many that I have a lot of respect for, including yourself Ned, although there are a few that I regard as essentially the embodiment of everything I loathe in the world - just that maybe it's not really for me.

As for the semantics debate of my use of the word "adult", maybe that wasn't really what I meant.

I suspect yez understand me anyway.

uptoeleven (uptoeleven), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:35 (eleven years ago) Permalink

well you did say "is this really what grownups do?"

the jews (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:38 (eleven years ago) Permalink

True. I did indeed use the term "grown-up" based on the assumption that y'all wouldn't get bogged down in it. But c'mon, help me out here. I'm just looking for a "yes, a career in music journalism is a perfectly appropriate long-term professional pursuit" or alternative response.

uptoeleven (uptoeleven), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:46 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Don't worry too much about the longterm. If you're good and ambitious, you can write about anything, music's as good a thing as any to start with.

Huk-L (Huk-L), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:47 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It doesn't sound like this is the job for you. I suggest you immediately contact the editor you were submitting stuff to, and tell him you're out of the game and that he should get reviews and whatnot from me, instead, for the foreseeable future.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:51 (eleven years ago) Permalink

What your basically saying is that you write shitty reviews for your student newspaper and a fellow idiot has decided to give you £5 to review the latest We Believe In Lucy EP for his equally dreadful fanzine, right?

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

On a moral scale, it's not as admirable or useful as teaching school in rural Kentucky or helping indigenous labor organizers in Bolivia. But it's a lot better than doing public relations for ExxonMobil or writing legal memos justifying the use of torture.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

If you're a journalist, you're a journalist. It doesn't matter what you're covering, so don't feel bad you're writing about music versus, I dunno, the murder beat. If you're a critic, then as long as you direct people to albums and acts they may have missed, or good records they may enjoy, then it sounds sound to me. Plus, if you feel unqualified, consider it a challenge and opportunity to expand your horizons even as you attempt to expand those of others. But if all you do is serve as a buying guide, focusing on albums everyone has heard of or will hear about from everyone else, then yes, the job will eventually weigh on you as unsubstantial. In other words, like many things in life, it is what you make of it.

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Friday, 25 November 2005 19:58 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I'd point in Huk's direction. Writing solely about music strikes me as a risky long-term career path -- but if you can make music just the first thing you write about, and push as much as possible into other areas, you stand a much better chance of having a proper career. Part of what this means might involve being willing to do a little bit of rote, unstylish journalism along the way. I think part of the attraction to music criticism, for a lot of people, is that you can slang and be abstract and all that, pretty much right from the start, without having to do the journalistic grunt-work that other topics might require to get a foot in the door; even within music writing, you'd be doing yourself a huge favor by getting used to concrete newspaper style, getting really good at constructing features, etc., and using all those concrete non-musical journalism kills to leverage yourself in other directions.

nabiscothingy, Friday, 25 November 2005 20:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

rote, unstylish journalism can be really sexy!

the jews (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 25 November 2005 20:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

rote, unstylish journalism generally pays a lot better, too!

Huk-L (Huk-L), Friday, 25 November 2005 20:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

That's my whole point! And I get the feeling that some (aspiring?) music writers get focused on what they can do within whatever music circles they came up through, and wind up either neglecting that journalistic stuff or actually writing it off as staid and boring. (This is a limited group I'm talking about here; I'm sure most people who actually depend on the writing for rent-paying are more than happy to shoot for newspaper pieces and journalism as proper work/career.)

nabiscothingy, Friday, 25 November 2005 20:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Appreciate the thoughts - except Dom's of course which is a somewhat prickish comment to make. Regardless of the (in)accuracy of the comment, that's not really the point is it?

uptoeleven (uptoeleven), Friday, 25 November 2005 21:55 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Anyway, I'm trying to work out if this is a course worth pursuing before I commit myself one way or the other (although I recognize that these days there's really no such thing a commitment to a particular career). Writing and music are my passions so i've naturally lead myself in the direction of combining the two. Maybe I just haven't really thought about the options I have.

uptoeleven (uptoeleven), Friday, 25 November 2005 22:01 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It's not a career for an adult if you sit on your ass complaining about how shit it is and doing nothing, no matter how true that is, and I don't mean that in a superior way either, talking from experience.

Ronan (Ronan), Friday, 25 November 2005 22:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

JtN to thread!

the bellefox, Friday, 25 November 2005 22:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

If you're really looking for "what is this career like" advice: I don't think music writing is a very good gig. You're up against hundreds of people who all want to write about the same record as you, there are fewer markets and most of them are dumbing down, and it doesn't pay well, even if you're an editor. I've worked for music editors in their mid-twenties who handle the music section for an entire weekly newspaper, but still pull in dishwasher money. And if you ever landed a steady gig it would be hard to walk away from it, even if you were sick of covering eight skater-rock bands and a Kenny Loggins concert every week for the Daily Yawn or wherever you lucked into a salaried job.

So if writing, and not specifically music writing, is your passion, you'll want to start thinking about other things you could cover to supplement or replace your music work.

But you know, you're not exactly "committing" to it - you could try it and just see where it leads. You might end up writing steadily for one of the three or four music publications that are worth reading, and really enjoy it. You might do it for a few years and decide to get into the industry. You might have a lot of fun and see a ton of free concerts and then go to law school.

save the robot (save the robot), Friday, 25 November 2005 22:11 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I thought the whole point of Dom's comment was to goad the Spinal Tap loving aspiring journo into naming names. Daerest faliure.

I'm not entirely sure I want it to become my life
If you already have doubts I'm afraid they will only get bigger...

blunt (blunt), Friday, 25 November 2005 22:18 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Getting paid to think about music is a fucking privilege. The important thing is to actually think about it - what it means, why we should care, where does the music fit into the wider scheme of things - all that malarkey. If you're just going to write the same old, irrelevant shit as Mojo, Q, NME, Observer Music Monthly (ugh) and whatever their equivalents are outside the UK - then go find something else to do. The world doesn't need more muso journos. Good luck.

11V (11V), Friday, 25 November 2005 23:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

If by "adult" you mean "someone who has listened for years with an open ear and been interested," then yeah. Sometimes it comes down to whether reading a review where a high school kid is talking about pop rock is better than a 40 year old reviewer talking about it from the perspective of a teen, though. But the more "objective" reviews usually work a little better when they're by someone who's been around a while.

mike h. (mike h.), Friday, 25 November 2005 23:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

As someone who cruises these pages as a non-writer I always appreciate reading someone who has something to say and who obviously enjoys saying it. I will always read someone who obviously has a passion for music and surely that's what brings us all here. Lifetime career? Fuck, what's that! I've been struggling as an artist for years and often ask myself if I'm fooling meself, but whatever else I do to pay the bills the bug still gets to me which has me walking out on well paid jobs to pursue what I regard as my 'true' career. You'll never lose that but it doesn't mean you can't go looking for other avenues to express yourself. You don't stop being an artist in whatever area you've chosen. Sometimes you wish you could and live a 'normal' life of just living without the questions, but look at those lives closer and you soon realise you wouldn't want to go there.

As Kafka had it "I live for the struggle for it is all I know." Sure his novels aren't exactly a laugh a minute but it's what drove him beyond the paperwork at an insurance company for chirstsake!

tolstoy (tolstoy), Saturday, 26 November 2005 00:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

in russia-land - no
no matter how sure i am that this is what i want to do
sadly

that's why i'm currently switching to be an interfax news agency correspondent/translator, ha ha

nique (nique), Saturday, 26 November 2005 00:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Nice thread by the way. Good to hear the doubts expressed.

tolstoy (tolstoy), Saturday, 26 November 2005 00:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

You could start a blog, post your thoughts, a listener's diary, see how it goes. See if you bore yourself shitless, that's a bad sign. Ask your friends to read and post comments, ask us too. See how your opinions of your opinions (and your opinions of music) compare with those of your readers. You may not get any intelligent response; you may not get any. That happens sometimes. Writing is creepy that way. See how you feel, if that's the way it goes (or doesn't go, in effect). You may not mind so much after all. But if you find you do mind so much, better do something else. (PS: writing features has only taught me how to write features, not to be a better reviewer, mush less critic.)

don, Saturday, 26 November 2005 00:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

no one who isn't working toward the overthrow of bourgeois hegemony, and the advent of marxian 20 hour work weeks, is an "adult" in our "culture"

louie shelton, Saturday, 26 November 2005 00:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

If it paid more it'd probably be considered more "adult."

Abbadabba Berman (Hurting), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

oh so true abbadabba

nique (nique), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Hey, congratulations, you snort cocaine, run around in a big room screaming numbers, and use your earnings to buy prostitutes. You're a fucking adult!

Abbadabba Berman (Hurting), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:38 (eleven years ago) Permalink

all "adult" means in our "culture" is how much you get laid and how hot the layers are. if you're good looking, be a rock critic, fuck it. if you're not, go to law school! and vive la revolution!

louie shelton, Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

layers? good looking? what?

athol fugard (Jody Beth Rosen), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ha ha, now go turn this "culture" into Culture if you're forced to work with morons, who don't know a shit, don't do a shit and don't give a shit.....

:::(((

nique (nique), Saturday, 26 November 2005 03:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

No disrespect meant to the many talented writers plying their trade in this field, but I could never do it. The rewards (fiscal, artistic) are too small for me.

Instead of hunting and scraping for work that I'm not always thrilled with, I work in administration for an art school. I receive a solid salary with benefits, and I never have to worry about hunting for work.

There are certain people who thrive off of this particular hustle, but I'd just like to point out that there are plenty of fulfilling writing jobs out there that don't involve journalism and allow for some artistic license.

polyphonic (polyphonic), Saturday, 26 November 2005 04:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It seems you're too ambivalent to make a go of it, really. Too many basic doubts that would get in the way of "just writing," and that could undermine you. There's a self-consciousness about whether you "should" do this...framing up the question in terms of what grown-ups do.

Society at large and most grown-ups will tell you not to be a music journalist. And, no, being a music journalist isn't Something Grown-Ups Do. If you're looking for any kind of acceptance from grown-ups (even if you do become "successful" many grown-ups will not acknowledge it as true success, but success as graspable and relevant to them as building a really intricate sand castle or something) from current or future grown-ups, you are not likely to get it. If that kind of acceptance is important to you--if you do not want to be considered eccentric or an outsider by respectable normal grown-ups--do something else.

To be successul as a music journalist (and many other vocations) you pretty much have to be obsessed with it--and in that case you pretty much don't have a choice but to become a music journalist.

I guess I heard more about why you wouldn't choose to be a music journalist than why you would...

limeginger, Saturday, 26 November 2005 06:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I'd just like to point out that there are plenty of fulfilling writing jobs out there that don't involve journalism and allow for some artistic license.

especially with organizations that publish research reports -- it's a great way to get that urge out of your system without any of the pressure that comes from being "a writer."

athol fugard (Jody Beth Rosen), Saturday, 26 November 2005 06:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Fuck music journalism. Find yourself some rich parents. "Trust fund recipient" is the career you want. Put yourself up for adoption to test the market...

Reggie, Saturday, 26 November 2005 06:35 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Music Journalism is an unworthy use of a human life. You will die having accomplished nothing and your soul will descend to the lower planes.

Kapec, Saturday, 26 November 2005 10:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It really is a horrible way to make a living. You don't make much, and writing is pure agony all the time (writer's block, deadlines, dissatisfaction with everything you write if you're any kind of a perfectionist, subpar pay, etc.). It's not worth it.

grant, Saturday, 26 November 2005 11:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

There's a self-consciousness about whether you "should" do this...framing up the question in terms of what grown-ups do.

I'm not entirely sure that's true. I think my peers and social superiors would probably have more respect for me for doing this than say, pursuing a more typical "grown-up" path. It's more about whether I would find it rewarding enough to do it long term, or would simply get tired of churning out the same mind-numbing bullshit about records I couldn't give two fucks about.

I suspect I may have just answered my own question right there.

uptoeleven (uptoeleven), Saturday, 26 November 2005 16:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It's more about whether I would find it rewarding enough to do it long term, or would simply get tired of churning out the same mind-numbing bullshit about records I couldn't give two fucks about.

Again, what's the "long-term" anymore? Do it for a couple years and see where it takes you. You'll probably get more real world experience having to interview bands and write under deadlines than at most of the office jobs out there.

save the robot (save the robot), Saturday, 26 November 2005 16:59 (eleven years ago) Permalink

and also, don't forget about the free concerts and all the fun music's about

nique (nique), Saturday, 26 November 2005 22:20 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Dom OTM

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Saturday, 26 November 2005 22:22 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Music journalists write about music. Not neccessarily young people's music, but music. A 50 year-old music journalist may well still write about music, if he writes about music that other 50 year-olds tend to like.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 26 November 2005 23:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

yes, as a journalist i find it is vital that i only write about things in which people of my age will be interested.

and, like, only other oldsters listened to john peel, didn't they? daddio.

grimly fiendish (grimlord), Sunday, 27 November 2005 00:15 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Again, what's the "long-term" anymore?

this is very true. most people don't follow one career path anymore; that's a holdover from the days when there was such a thing as job security.

athol fugard (Jody Beth Rosen), Sunday, 27 November 2005 00:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

although when you're young there's that nagging feeling that if you even waste one year, your whole future is ruined.

athol fugard (Jody Beth Rosen), Sunday, 27 November 2005 00:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i should probably thank some animist deity on a periodic basis that i don't have to chase the clicks.

Yeah, I'm really glad I don't have to worry about that stuff. I mean, if enough people aren't reading my jazz column for Stereogum, they'll stop publishing it, and that's fine, but that's as close as I get to market-based writing at this point.

As far as that "write more negative reviews!" piece, it's a bunch of insecure posturing from a dude whose own site is full of shit more often than not. I've told the story here before of how they only wanted me to review the new Metallica album if I could guarantee that I'd put the boot in. (I didn't get the gig. Someone else did.)

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

As the arc of my career-as-such has gone, it went from college paper reviews and features to the AMG reviews and via that the various scattered reviews and features I've done as a result. The AMG work, in a way, illustrated the 10/80/10 split Tom noted -- difference being that the very nature of the AMG invited coverage of the 80 in detail as well, to have an accounting for, well, all music, or as much as could be found. Reviewed a LOT of middling indie rock of the 2000s, but I didn't rant about them, more like 'how many ways can I say "meh."'

Of course I did have my vivisections. My Stylus column was about looking at the leftovers, but if something provided an honest surprise I happily said so. But there was a lot of junk, and unlike the AMG approach, I could avoid an objective tone in favor of "ARRGH." I remember both Momus and Grady talking on here about not fully being on board with that but as Alfred said, there's a value in explaining why you hate something if you can do it well. (See also the Neil Tennant essay from 92 re the power of hate as a focus, artistically and elsewhere.)

As my post AMG writing career has settled into my groove of a few pieces here and there per month -- backed up, as I have always been, by the luxury of my full time job, utterly unrelated to music criticism or the for-profit world -- I can afford to pick and choose, quite literally, and these days I'm simply not interested in chasing everything down to opine on it all. Or more accurately there isn't time for it. (The fact that I can't easily listen to albums as much at my SF job as I used to in OC also is a big factor.) In ways I think I've explained my aesthetic enough on the one hand -- as much to myself as to any regular readers I have -- and on the other I'm much more content to read others' writing on music new and old (especially when talented younger writers take a look at older music and its accompanying cliches and assumptions around it to ask if it shouldn't be viewed differently instead -- an important part of sociopolitical evaluation and review well beyond music).

So sure I could write something about how, I don't know, I'd rather have my ears ripped off than have to entertain [insert EDM macho bro of choice here] any more than I have to, or how I wish Father John Misty did his trip to Big Sur, had a revelation that he was on the verge of being an obnoxious mediocrity, and chucked it all in to settle down and raise bees. For a start. But I don't feel like wasting more words than that on the matter and I'd rather do something like my NPR Algiers piece and try and unpack the context and creation of what I feel is a remarkable album in detail.

Negative criticism absolutely has a place. It simply can't and shouldn't just be schtick.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:42 (three weeks ago) Permalink

is it too obvious to point out that assigning value on a scale is among the least interesting or even helpful things a critic can do? (worth remembering anyway, maybe). i can't get enough of reviews that help me hear what fans of a musician hear, even - especially? - when i'm not a fan myself

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Having to assign values (stars, numbers, whatever)...just horrid. Have always hated it, and am glad I barely have to do it anymore.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:56 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I've only ever had to do it at two places - Alternative Press and AMG - and in both cases, I can't remember a single numerical rating I assigned anything.

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:57 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Part of me kinda wishes The Wire would assign numerical scores to albums, just because it would be hilarious.

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:57 (three weeks ago) Permalink

"284.15, as scored in the hexadecimal system on the planet Tharg."

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

It's even worse for writers, since hardcore fans latch on only to scores and have their angry tweets at the ready if they feel their fave has been slighted.

maura, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:04 (three weeks ago) Permalink

(I got slammed for being a "longtime Lana hater" because 3.5 stars appeared above my LUST FOR LIFE review in RS.)

maura, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:05 (three weeks ago) Permalink

You're not? (Seriously; I feel like everything I've read about her with your byline has been "meh"-to-"ugh.")

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:07 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Ha, Maura's story reminds me of something I was thinking about last night at OMD -- when I reviewed this album for Pitchfork:

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/17843-orchestral-manoeuvres-in-the-dark-english-electric/

I spent nearly all of it pointing out how it was simultaneously a really lovely album and ultimately one that didn't develop their now considerable legacy, merely providing refinements. It came out and a slew of OMD fanatics only noticed the score and had a meltdown. Still irritated about that.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:08 (three weeks ago) Permalink

It's even worse for movies.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:10 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Imagine explaining how some terrible movies should be seen and argued about.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:11 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i actually gave HONEYMOON a good review when it came out.

also this should go without saying but being a "hater" and being "meh to ugh" are not the same thing.

maura, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Well, I can't stand the term "hater" anyway; anyone who uses it falls into the same bucket of slime where I leave people who refer to women as "females." But (and I haven't read your Honeymoon review but would love a link) what I have read of yours re LDR has always given me the impression that you strongly dislike her work and creative persona but are occasionally able to muster grudging respect for an individual track or something, here and there. In fact, I admit to having wondered why you keep engaging with her work. If I felt about an artist the way your writing makes me think you feel about LDR, I would simply stop listening, and certainly stop writing about them.

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:19 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Ha, Maura's story reminds me of something I was thinking about last night at OMD -- when I reviewed this album for Pitchfork:

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/17843-orchestral-manoeuvres-in-the-dark-english-electric/

I spent nearly all of it pointing out how it was simultaneously a really lovely album and ultimately one that didn't develop their now considerable legacy, merely providing refinements. It came out and a slew of OMD fanatics only noticed the score and had a meltdown. Still irritated about that.

― Ned Raggett, Saturday, July 29, 2017 8:08 PM (thirteen minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

You shoulda seen how the OMD hardcore reacted when John Doran didn't like the album before... he was essentually accused of having an agenda, despite writing about the band positively elsewhere as you have done...

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

xp

My opinion on her has changed since the early days of Interscope trying to play pretindie with their "secret shows" at Glasslands and Insta-filtered live shots. I thought people were being too harsh on her SNL performance, although I also loathed how laconic her vocal approach was on BORN TO DIE.

Probably notable: When I was more alienated from her work I had a staff job and a place where I could contour out my opinions more freely. As this exchange indicates, it's much more difficult to build a body of work and a critical profile when one's pieces are scattered all over the place.

maura, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:27 (three weeks ago) Permalink

*essentially

(xp)

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:28 (three weeks ago) Permalink

(And why do I write about her? Because that's what editors want.)

maura, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:28 (three weeks ago) Permalink

lol "pretindie"

i didn't even mean star ratings or scores as such, just the whole concept of "good" vs "bad" consumer reports style is so weird to me. i guess it made sense when people had to buy music unheard. but the idea of proclaiming a "verdict" on like, the new rae sremmurd or LDR album is so ridiculous to me

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:37 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I really like in depth music criticism and history and over time have come to value the opinions of young people as expressed though professional writing less and less. I know we're not talking about it now but the original thread topic had me thinking: I almost only want to read music writing from adults

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:57 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Not adults who pose as Adults in the sense of inveighing on the pop of the day in a condescending bourgeoise tasteful sense but like as an example, a Brad Nelson review I will probably read and enjoy. I mean unless ur the next Carson McCullers your opinions are great but I probably won't glean insight from your efforts to articulate them

This is probably not a v popular opinion but I'm ok w it as polemical ilx posts go lol

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

*your efforts to articulate them *at age 22*

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:01 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Obv I encourage young ppl to work at it, I'm just saying I think this thread has the dynamic of criticism upside down

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Agree with the above 100%. When I read a headline like "We Need To Talk About (Album)" my immediate response is, "I had that conversation 20 years ago, thanks but no thanks."

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:15 (three weeks ago) Permalink

you guys hate millennials, it's ok you can say it.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:19 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i'm cool w/honest well thought out responses from "millennials" but hot takes without actual intelligence behind them are basically "we showed these four year olds modern art and this is what they had to say"

nomar, Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I am a millennial

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

When I think about the best critics I've read in any field, their best/most interesting/well developed stuff was largely produced in their 30s +

I mean idk what say Richard Brody's movie reviews were like in his 20s but I love them now & I don't see age being a barrier for me to keep reading him as he gets older

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:38 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i'm cool w/honest well thought out responses from "millennials" but hot takes without actual intelligence behind them are basically "we showed these four year olds modern art and this is what they had to say"

― nomar, Saturday, July 29, 2017 4:22 PM (eighteen minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I too am cool w those well thought out responses *in theory* altho I think they're a lot less common than ppl would like to believe. Also, tbf, the editorial hand is very weak right now and a great editor would probably be key in younger writers developing their critical voices early

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:43 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Phil: I sent you an email entitled: "How do you feel about the new Metallica album?" setting out why - on first instincts - I totally thought it should get a negative review, in what I felt was a jokily OTT manner - hoping to have some sort of discussion with you about it but definitely expecting you to respect a writer/editor relationship and for it to go no further. I was genuinely up for having you change my mind on this matter though - I'm not saying it happens on a weekly basis but it does happen, say, once a month. I had every right to be nervous about you as a potential first time writer for us given that I know you don't really like or respect tQ or me (as a writer or editor) and have been vocal about this in the past. And there it was literally the same day - your issue not taken up with me in the first place but taken straight to a thread for Metallica fans on a message board. I like you as a reviewer, I totally get that you're committed to what you do and I'd still like you to write for us in an ideal world but you insisting on treating this incident like it's Watergate is weak sauce imo. Regular and trusted writers for us get total free reign. Loads of them post here. Go ahead and ask them if you want - there are probably in the region of 15 people. (Any kind of interference is extremely rare. I'm still trying to live down the shame I feel that we ran an absolute drubbing of a really good documentary THAT MY FRIENDS MADE simply because I didn't want to stick my oar in.) None of us interfere with any of the columns at any level - and next to none of the reviews (but there are obvious cases where it would be mad for us not to know in advance what the reviewer thinks of an album, if Luke and I think Monoliths + Dimensions is a clear shoe in for album of the year, we'd be idiots to give the review to someone who hates it). I absolutely have to tread gingerly round new writers for obvious reasons and make no apology for sounding them out thoroughly in the first, second and third etc instances. We've done everything on a position of trust at tQ - I already work an 80 hour week, paying myself less than minimum wage to do the tQ portion of that [world's smallest violin etc.] and yet, even though we're closer to a fanzine than we are to P4k or Uncut, I still found myself having to learn about adding legal disclaimers to emails after this incident. You know - clearly, in retrospect I overstepped the mark and disrespected you as a professional which I'm deeply regretful about - but you not coming to me in the first place and twisting this to make me look like some dead-eyed moral bankrupt is bang out of order, not to mention extremely hurtful.

To the poster above: those negative reviews are the hardest to write. I had to do a Q and A onstage with Andy McCluskey after the OMD drubbing. It was one of the most difficult hours of my professional life. And then there was the Simple Minds review... Jesus. Apparently some Australian radio DJ read it out to Jim Kerr and they had an actual fight on air. And the worst thing about all of this stuff is these people are my childhood heroes. I take absolutely no pleasure in it whatsoever. In fact I find it quite distressing.

Doran, Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Ok what

El Tomboto, Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:57 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I think millennials are fine. I'm more wary of people in my generational cohort and older treating them as if they're The Blob.

maura, Saturday, 29 July 2017 22:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Do you know what? I'm actually really struggling at the moment due to a recent diagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, which I only received on Friday after a road accident last November, which has put my ability to keep on doing tQ or carry on writing full stop into question, hence me getting upset in public about something I should be ignoring. I'd really appreciate it if someone could delete this post and the post above. I'm genuinely not in my right state of mind at the moment. Thanks.

Doran, Saturday, 29 July 2017 22:10 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Hey, I'm sorry. I was just being an Internet Dickhead because I don't know enough of the context to connect your last post to what others were talking about. I don't know you from Adam or Eve, but I do hope your days get better from here and I didn't really mean anything by that post. Should have put it on the "second thought about" thread. Or nowhere at all.

El Tomboto, Saturday, 29 July 2017 22:30 (three weeks ago) Permalink

No foul. I shouldn't be on the internet at the moment. It's my own lookout. And thanks.

Doran, Saturday, 29 July 2017 22:34 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I'll just say I really love the Quietus and appreciate what you do

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 30 July 2017 00:16 (three weeks ago) Permalink

<3 JD

maura, Sunday, 30 July 2017 01:43 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Heavy third to that.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 30 July 2017 01:53 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Though it's written by a movie critic, I thought this article provided some interesting insight into the reviewing/rating process. He talks about exactly what the difference is between a two-star and a three-star movie, etc.

grawlix (unperson), Sunday, 30 July 2017 14:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Speaking as an "artist" in another medium, I love good journalism and criticism. It has regularly opened my eyes to seeing things differently and informed my creativity. Carry on, jurnos.

yesca, Sunday, 30 July 2017 14:14 (three weeks ago) Permalink

how much of "music journalism" is album reviews at this point, anyway? It seems like what people pay attention to (or at least what I see people post about on fb) are interviews or concert or festival reviews. The only album reviews I see getting shared are by obscure acts mostly in the vein of, "Hey someone actually published something about us!"

But I'm not a music journalist, so *shruggy emoticon*

sarahell, Monday, 31 July 2017 01:15 (three weeks ago) Permalink

... okay, also obituaries and "scene reports" -- but seriously, I don't really think very many people I know read reviews of widely available popular music, because they can just listen to it themselves for free with nominal effort. Who cares what some writer thinks.

sarahell, Monday, 31 July 2017 01:20 (three weeks ago) Permalink

^ yeah. Only time I read a review of something is if it's a new record by an artist I'm psyched about and cannot help but want to know what it sounds like ahead of time.

Week of Wonders (Ross), Monday, 31 July 2017 01:44 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Obituaries, definitely. Number-one growth industry after wind power.

clemenza, Monday, 31 July 2017 01:46 (three weeks ago) Permalink

the original piece sort of tiptoed around this, but there's something very demoralizing about how how this whole discussion cycle started with Kings of Leon and Chance waging proxy-wars-via-employers on twentysomething writers over some "offensive" mildly critical reviews of their work, yet music writers receive far worse pretty much every time they publish anything that isn't glowing (or if it's glowing about the "wrong" artist) and they're told to just get a thicker skin

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 31 July 2017 01:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Whoa man

Brutal words from new MTV president Chris McCarthy re: MTV News, whose staff he fired. It's from this NYT profile: https://t.co/u7aottjQmX pic.twitter.com/9IGAJIviCs

— Andy Dehnart (@realityblurred) July 30, 2017

Ned Raggett, Monday, 31 July 2017 03:14 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Though it's written by a movie critic, I thought this article provided some interesting insight into the reviewing/rating process. He talks about exactly what the difference is between a two-star and a three-star movie, etc.

― grawlix (unperson), 30. juli 2017 16:02 (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Wow, I hated hated hated that article. Zero stars. So wrongheaded about criticism. Though I guess I'm lucky that I pick and choose my reviews as well, so I don't have to think about how Kevin Smith would fit into my rating system. But this description of a four-star film is horrible and convinces me I never need to read that critic:

Every so often, though, I don't have anything to complain about. (It's rare, I know.) The movie starts clearly, and with a strong point of view. The actors disappear into their characters, and the characters have their own emotional logic. The plot is intriguing as it unfolds -- and yet afterwards, often seems inevitable, because it springs directly from the way these people would act. The cinematography and editing and music are both artistic and modest - serving the story stylishly while never only calling attention to themselves.

Frederik B, Monday, 31 July 2017 09:46 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i bet that guy's a blast on tindr

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 31 July 2017 19:40 (three weeks ago) Permalink

... okay, also obituaries and "scene reports" -- but seriously, I don't really think very many people I know read reviews of widely available popular music, because they can just listen to it themselves for free with nominal effort. Who cares what some writer thinks.

― sarahell, Sunday, July 30, 2017 9:20 PM (six days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Reviews, historically, were probably only useful within the narrow purview of music nerds - and most people aren't hardcore music nerds - but I still utilize them to figure out who to check out among the vast array of new-to-me artists. I kind of agree with you about artists you already have affection for; no matter what the reviews are for the new War on Drugs record, for example, I'm going to check it out.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Saturday, 5 August 2017 23:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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