It has been over five years since the last issue of the NME hit the shelves in March 2018. In those bitter-sweet five years, the music industry has undergone rapid and unprecedented change; with that in mind, we will answer the question; do music reviews matter in 2023?
A critical acclaim consensus may not be able to make or break an artist in the same way it used to when journalists were revered as iconic golden-eared tastemakers in the music industry. Even with swathes of 5-star album of the year accolades from the likes of the Guardian and the Times, there is no guarantee that there will be a high demand for your gig tickets and digital music.
On the flip side, when journos and critics have very few positive things to say about a new release or a live performance from a well-established artist with a die-hard fanbase, negative reviews will have a minimal impact as the fans play a bigger role. Take Nick Cave & Tom Waits for the perfect example; neither of them has had massive commercial hits, but each has a dedicated fanbase ensuring their legacies and discographies became a perpetuating part of music history.
Do Music Reviews Matter in 2023
Social media has changed the game for many musicians. No longer do they have to rely on magazines and zines to communicate what their art is all about. Similarly, in this era, everyone can voice an opinion online, and even though most journos would disagree with this statement, no one’s subjective view is more important than anyone else’s.
With that said, in 2023, positive reviews still matter, especially for independent artists looking to make their mark in their respective scenes and build those fanbases.
Typically, the more trusted, revered and admired the journalist and publication is, the more worth is attached to their words. However, it would be naïve of new artists to think they can secure reviews from household name publications right off the bat. It isn’t impossible, especially with the right PR team and backing, but more often than not, major publications only feature established artists.
There is no shame in working from the ground up by getting featured by indie websites and blogs first. Their reach may not be as wide, but the connections you make can put you in good stead with valuable other figures in a scene, and the soundbites you can pull from the features are great for bolstering your reputation, proving to promoters that there is an appetite for your music, and for your future press releases. Many independent artists also tend to slather positive soundbites, which capture the essence of their music, across their social media bios, streaming platforms, and websites. In short, the more of a presence you have online, the better your chances of standing out from the rest of the crowd that is oversaturated with artists, all looking to get ahead.
So, to succinctly answer the titular question, in our modern and often warped era, critics and journos are only really valuable if they spend their time flying the flag for artists who may have otherwise slipped under the radar.
Never judge the popularity of a blog or a website on the number of likes, comments, and shares they get on social media. The times may have changed, but many blogs still maintain loyal readerships, consisting of music fans who are keen to listen to some new music and explore new talent. It can be hard to see the true ripple effect of reviews, but if you trust in the process and continue to spread the word and boost your signal by submitting music to magazines and blogs, it will be time well-spent. Of course, you will need to ensure that you are submitting to the right blogs and have a perfect pitch to stand a chance at seducing writers into hitting play on your music.
Submit your Music for Review with A&R Factory
If you have a new release that you have poured your blood, sweat and tears into and want it in front of industry figures and music fans alike, submit your music to A&R Factory.
We are always open to submissions from artists of all genres, and as a top 10 UK blog, you can share your A&R Factory review with pride.
Article by Amelia Vandergast