Thursday, March 27, 2008

Who needs critics?

That's an excellent question. Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times has a terrific think-piece on the subject.

She starts off talking about The Raconteurs and how they moved up the release date for their new album to head off early leaks. (Too late. I got mine. The new Gnarls Barkley album, too. And REM.)

But then she veers into the issue of whether or not critics will have enough time to evaluate the material in order to write and publish a considered review. From there, she explores the changing role of critics and criticism.

I have plenty of thoughts about this, and so does Jason Gross at Popmatters, who Powers links to.

My comments will come shortly, as I'm in the process of forming them in a comprehensible manner. (Word!)

Basically, it's a matter of marketing. Critics approach "product" from the perspective of art, and then may take the marketing into account, though they usually express it in terms of style and context. Nothing wrong with that at all.

But publishers, labels, and other producers and distributors are generally more interested in commerce and tend to view reviews from that perspective. It's not that they don't care about art; they do, for the most part, but the mercantile aspects of a project are prime.

Anyway, I'll have more on this later, as well as a little FAQ I send out to authors, publishers and publicsts that explains my review criteria.

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