Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CBC3 Asks: Do Reviews Matter?

I've been trying to read more music blogs lately in order to improve my own writing, and one of the blogs that I find consistently good is the one run by CBC Radio 3.  It's well-written, and the authors (most of the time they're the on-air hosts) have a good read on the pulse of the music world.  In a recent blog, guest host Louise Burns asked an interesting question: Do reviews matter?  The question was asked in the context of music reviews, to be accurate.

It's an interesting question because I find myself in two camps.  On the one side, I barely pay attention to music reviews.  Often my 'buy impulse' is triggered when I hear a particular song by that artist, and I don't really look beyond my own opinion to see whether the album is any good or not.  I don't read a lot of reviews, so I don't "know" the reviewer or what they like.  If I do consult a review, it'll likely be a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend.

On the other side, I am constantly sifting through reviews of independently released music (licensed by Creative Commons) to find genuinely good music to recommend on the blog and play in the podcast.  I often try to write my own reviews of that same music, which means what you read is usually filtered through someone else before you hear about it from me.

Since I'm trying to discover more music on my own without the help of other music blogs, I'm relying less and less on these very music reviews - only to write my own recommendations for you to read.  This presents a bit of a dilemma - while I eschew reviews, I expect you to read mine.  So, do reviews matter?

Yes and no.  I think there's definitely a place for reviews, but at the same time, discovering music is up to personal taste, and no review can determine whether you will like the music.  The best you can do is subscribe to music review blogs and magazines that cater to your general personal taste - but even then, there's no guarantee you'll hit a home run every time.

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*phew* that was a mouthful.  Okay, don't forget that today between 1pm and 2pm the Weekly Airwave will air on CKCU FM during Audio Sensory Resuscitation!  Listen on the radio if you're in the Ottawa area at 93.1 FM, or online everywhere else.

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