Several years ago a trusted friend, who is also a fabulous musician, told me that with regard to reviews, I have very little credibility because I “like everything”. Well, I don’t. Trust me. I’ve gotten some stuff that I’m pretty sure you’d all agree is dreadful.
She suggested I write honest reviews of stuff I don’t like. She used Pitchfork as an example of a highly respected review website because they don’t sugar-coat anything and they are downright scathing (and often funny). That if Pitchfork likes a band, then that band has made it. She wanted that sort of industry cred (and pull) for me.
I thought, I can do that. I can be snarky as hell when the feeling hits me. (You should have seen the review I wrote about the woman whose vocal stylings resembled a dying cow. I’m not even kidding. It was a weird painful moaning, lowing sort of thing.*)
So I started writing what I felt about the music whether I liked it or not. Sometimes this made for a funny post, sometimes it was just mean. Most of the time, these posts never saw the light of day. Some even got so far in the process to be posted to the site, just not published, waiting for the day I have the guts to hit the publish button.
Some reviews I wrote were positive for the most part, but if there was something I didn’t care for, I mentioned it. Then I’d get nasty emails or comments from the artist or I’d find out they trashed me on their website (Google Alerts is my friend). ‘Screw ‘em!’ I’d say, ‘They asked for my opinion by sending me their music.’ I even went so far as to dedicate a whole post to “If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask for it and save your postage”.
But the bottom line is, it’s not nice and it’s not what I wanted to be when I started this site. Also, I’m finding that I have less and less time to spend on this site. I calculated that when I do a review I generally spend at least 8 hours per CD. It’s just not worth it to spend all that time, and do all that work to just send negative shit out there.
Also, I see Collected Sounds as not just a review site. Many of my posts are giving you free music, or sharing industry news, or videos, or listing concert dates. Reviewing is not my main goal. Mostly the reviews I do write end up being for the artist more than the reader/listener anyway.
So from now on, I am only writing about music that I find exceptional. If I am listening to a submission and all I can think to write about it is “she has a nice voice”, or “it’s ok” it’s not going to make it past a third listen and will not make it to the site. From now on, only gems.
Now, I do get submissions of already-written reviews from other contributors and I’ll continue to post them, but they’re generally always positive anyway.
What I’ve done in the past and what I may continue to do, is grab a whole bunch of the “good, but not great” ones and do one post mentioning them all but will still keep it positive. Not sure yet about that. What are your thoughts?
OK now to go to my ginormous stack of CDs, give them all one more listen and start paring down. Whee!
*And no I won’t mention the name of the artist who sounded bovine. You wouldn’t know her anyway. It’s not like she “made it” big.