Interesting article over at Pitchfork: What Do You Look for in Music Writing? As in music reviews, not like, writing music.
Music advocacy (well, it sounds better than "what mp3 blogs do") is exploding. Music criticism on the other hand survived commercially for the past 40 years or so by hitching itself to its own version of advocacy. In an age of limited music supply, the word of an informed expert was invaluable, and the flights of fancy or theory that expert indulged in were part of the deal. Sharply and suddenly, the internet has broken that link.
Since I was a teenager I've thought music criticism was silly. I've never really understood why I should care that someone doesn't like an album, it alway seemed like trolling -- a ploy to get fans riled up and generate attention. I prefer the idea of music advocacy, though I get impatient reading overwrought poetic waxings about music when I could have decided if I liked the music in the time it took to read the article. (Also there are only so many times I can read the word "scintillating" without wanting to puke.)
Lately as I've been working on my album I've been getting existential. Is there still a point to doing albums? Why should they be in 11 or 12 song bundles? What will I do when it's done?
It used to be a bad idea for a musician to release too many songs too quickly. You get the rep as being a prolific genius, but the quality pretty much always goes down. You oversaturate the market with a lot of b-side material, confuse potential fans and make it hard for anyone to find the songs they'd like.
But now that music advocacy is the name of the game, are things different? It seems like all you have to worry about is if there are enough people interested to separate the good from the bad. The bad gets ignored, the good gets spread around.