Music criticism – what is it and what is it good for?

If someone asked you to describe the typical music critic, what would you say? Chances are that you would say something like: a music critic is a person who offers their personal opinion as facts and doesn’t hesitate to write mean, and sometimes unfair judgments about music that they might not even be qualified to evaluate. Wow, so harsh of you to say that! The thing is that even though this description doesn’t by far match every music critic out there, there are many people who feel this way about it. It’s a little bit like the food critic in the movie Ratatouille. The prejudice people hold against critics of all sorts is that they are very critiquing- even their title implies it! But what role do music critics actually have in the music industry? Do we need music criticism? Let’s find out!

The criticism against music critics

It might sound ironic to talk about music critics being criticized. But ever since the phenomenon took its more or less current form in the 18th century, these connoisseurs of music have themselves had their fair share of criticism.

The problem with it all is that they can only be objective to a certain degree. Of course, they can establish that somebody was singing out of tune or played the wrong notes, but the problem is when it comes to deciding if music is ‘good’ or not. Because, in all honesty, can you say that the ears of music critics are more important than the ears of musicians?

What one person thinks sounds great can sound like complete rubbish to somebody else. For this reason, it is vital that music critics describe why they feel the way they do. Otherwise, their statements will just be viewed as their personal opinion. This makes their job harder than people might think it to be. They constantly have to give a reason for everything they claim.

Yet another potential problem with modern music criticism is that it is often focused on the wrong things. Suddenly, all that seems to matter is what celebrity singers wear or who they date. Some people believe this kind of music criticism affects the entire music industry.

Music criticism’s changed role

The role of music critics has changed a bit over the years, thanks to the technological advancements that have made it possible for anybody to listen to basically any music, anytime. We don’t really need someone to tell us if a performance is good or not. We’ll just go to YouTube and determine for ourselves whether we like it or not.

The internet changed music criticism for good. Before the existence of the world wide web, you had to be knowledgeable and be able to write well and informatively in order to become a music critic. Otherwise, no magazine or newspaper would have you and you’d have no work. Nobody would read your opinion. Meanwhile, anybody can start a blog and become a music critic nowadays.

Before the internet, what the music critics said mattered. It was a way for composers and musicians to find out if they had made it or missed the mark. But nowadays, all they have to do is go to Twitter or Facebook and they’ll know what the whole world thinks about them and their music.

So what is music criticism good for?

Music criticism can be very interesting since it can give you new insights into music. You get to read what a fellow music lover thinks about a concert, an album, or something else. It can give you new ideas and open your eyes to things you haven’t thought about before.

By reading what someone else has written, you might discover your next favorite music genre. Or you might decide against going to a concert because you realize it’s not for you.

Perhaps most importantly, if you love music and you are active in the music industry, reading music criticism can be enjoyable if it’s done right. Because at the end of the day, we love music, and we always want to learn more about it. And sometimes, we might even learn something from a music critic!

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