On Ethics In and Among Indie and Upstart Music Reviewers: The Importance of Exposing the Masses to Art as a Collaborative Mission

Editors Note: This an excerpt from an amazing article written by long time Music Ninja writer “A Servant”. You can read the entire piece on his website .

For the past year, I’ve had the great fortune and privilege to write album and song reviews for the internet site The Music Ninja (www.themusicninja.com). This has been advantageous for me as an independent novelist because it gives me exposure and a chance to reach new markets. I am also a passionate music lover. I grew up playing blues and jazz songs on my grandmother’s baby grand piano, fell in love with rockers like Led Zeppelin in my adolescent years and grew to have a fondness for any musician with heart, intellect and creativity as an adult. Writing for The Music Ninja was a perfect fit for me.

However, I’ve noticed some areas where the industry of independent internet music review can grow stronger. I’ve noticed a lack of commonly agreed upon ethics when it comes to reviewing emerging artists. I’ve also noticed a lack of cooperative work between music sites. Finally, I’ve noticed an imperfect promotion of the art of writing among review sites. I submit to the reader that the industry of independent music reviews needs a unified mission. A duty. Above all else, we indie bloggers should devote ourselves to exposing emerging artists of all fashions (including us as writers) to markets that might best enjoy them, and in doing so, bring good art to the masses.

Is this too lofty of a goal? I don’t think so. Nor do I think it will take away from any financial profits we may make from reviewing artists. Although the mission statement above may seem Bohemian, I am first and foremost a Capitalist, and believe that the beauty of the art we expose our consumers to will, in and of itself, produce the profits we need to live off. Moreover, I don’t think it requires any special Descartian intelligence or Franciscan devotion to agree upon this common goal. For the most part we already do so! The average reviewer can certainly follow the guidelines listed below without learning any new skills. And indeed, this list is hardly exhaustive. Like all intellectual pursuits, the publication of these ideas may inspire others expanding on the positions stated here. Perhaps some will even disagree with these positions. I welcome these arguments in support or in opposition of my own. With that said, I make my case:

The indie/upstart music reviewer should not give any negative reviews .I’ve had several friends approach me about the lack of negative reviews I give: “Dude, you love everything. How can we take you seriously as a reviewer when you don’t tell us what to avoid?”

There is a strand of thought—furthered by the intellectual vanity of the world of art criticism—that states that an intellectual must tear down a work of art in order to be an effective critic. This phenomenon is well satirized in The Simpson’s episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?” My response to the question of why I don’t give negative reviews is always this: “In actuality, I do give negative reviews. I am constantly giving negative reviewers in the form of ignoring the music that does not move me.”

Continue reading…

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