Music reviews: Where to begin

By ALEXANDER B. PEARCE

Music reviewing is an area of journalism unlike any other. Most news stories present facts to the public without adding anything in terms of opinion or spin. Even other types of entertainment reviews, like movies and television, have visuals that can be added to a story to give readers something upon which to form their own opinions.

Reviewing music is almost entirely about opinion, typically giving readers the musings of an untrained layman on a subject about which he might be well-versed, but often has no technical mastery.

Accepting this style of writing can be understandably hard for a novice journalist, but a bevy of resources on the Internet make the transition easier.

Simple how-to guides can be beneficial for would-be reviewers uncertain of where to even begin. Informal, nonprofessional websites such as Writinghood have user-submitted guides that can be useful if scrutinized properly. Many colleges like the Dartmouth Writing Program have content archived that can be useful to anyone willing to look, adding a certain amount of credibility and weight to their articles.

Similarly, review websites provide another resource for beginners at the music reviewing game. Metacritic is one of the most popular entertainment reviewers on the Web, with a major section of the site dedicated to music reviews. Reading up on these stories can help familiarize journalists with what people are looking for when they read music reviews.

Unlike hard news, music reviews force journalists to invest a great deal of themselves into the stories they write. They are not separated from the subject matter as much as they are transmitting it to the audience through their own personal lenses.

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