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 Everett True

my advice for aspiring music critics

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1. Don’t ever attempt to apologise for holding an opinion.

2. 400 words good. 800 words fucking horrible.

3. Most musicians are cunts.

4. The music industry is not your friend. Unless you choose to make it so.

5. Don’t forget to place value upon what you do. If you don’t, why should anyone else?

6. Having the ability to turn an amp up really loud does not automatically make you an interesting person.

7. The Rolling Stones ruined music for every generation. Discuss.

8. Do not overuse adjectives. One is usually more than enough.

9. Do not confuse research with the ability to parrot press releases from memory.

10. No one gives a fuck what you think. Get over it.

11. Your principles mean shit if you didn’t have any to start with.

12. 10 words good. 50 words fucking pointless.

13. Don’t ever try to describe the music.

14. if you have to resort to lists to make your point, you probably shouldn’t be writing.

15. You shouldn’t care. Not in public, anyway.

16. Record companies and PRs don’t always tell the truth.

17. Don’t write for magazines/websites you don’t read.

18. No one GIVES A SHIT why you didn’t get to the concert until 30 minutes after the support act started.

19. No one GIVES A SHIT as to the full names of every single band-member.

20. (from Sean DIS) Write because you have to, not because of your career plan. Don’t ask if you can submit. Write. Permission s’not necessary.

21. If you don’t have a fucking clue why you’re doing it, don’t do it.

22. It’s not sexy. It’s not glamorous. And it certainly won’t get you laid.

23. Words to avoid. “Really”. “Totally”. “Seminal”. “Unbelievable”. “Transcendent”. “I think”. “It seems”.

24. It’s not over. It’s never over.

25. Fuck hyphens. And fuck apostrophes too, while we’re here. Keep it direct, entertaining, informative.

26. Think a band sounds like another band? You’re probably right. So what?

27. The platform is way more important than the critic.

28. Never trust a writer without an agenda.

29. Your editor will always value your ability to time-keep way over your ability to wield flowery prose.

30. It’s nice that folk want to send you free stuff, isn’t it? Get over it RIGHT NOW.

31. A 10-minute rehash of the press release on the telephone does not even vaguely constitute an interview.

32. Not all quiet bands sound like Young Marble Giants.

33. Not all noisy bands sound like Sonic Youth.

34. No one gives a fuck you once made out to a Smashing Pumpkins B-side.

35. Having the ability to use a keyboard does not automatically make you a writer. See also #6.

36. Don’t outstay your welcome. G’night.

37. People are reading your words to find out about the MUSIC.

38. Confused by one of your sentences? You won’t be the only one.

39. Do not mistake alcoholic intoxication for a good night out.

40. Radiohead no longer make good records. Get over it.

41. Have the urge to read another review of the same record before writing yours? SWALLOW IT.

42. The golden age of music criticism never existed. Get over it.

43. If you’re boring yourself, you’re boring your readers for sure.

44. Kurt Cobain is dead. Get over it.

45. Be candid. Be yourself. Be aware. Be yourself. Be entertaining. Be yourself.

46. How many music critics does it take to change the world? Exactly.

47. Don’t ever doubt that the person next to you is having a far better time than you are.

48. DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO PEOPLE YOU DO NOT KNOW.

49. No one gives a shit about your rare collection of Nick Cave 12-inch records.

50. It’s not a career choice. Trust me.

REVIEW TEMPLATE
Kings Of Leon
Come Around Sundown (Sony)
What’s the difference between the new Kings Of Leon album and Bruce Springsteen? …. …. Sorry, were you talking? My eyes glazed over.

22 Responses to my advice for aspiring music critics

  1. James Pusey October 6, 2010 at 1:29 am

    This has actually made me want to keep going.

  2. Andrew McMillen October 6, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Great photo.

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  4. zel October 6, 2010 at 7:20 am

    yay! mad clapping ensues.

  5. tomfiend October 6, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I’d be lying if I said I weren’t guilty of a few of those. All good points to look out for, god knows I’m prone to lengthy diatribes. ha

  6. Bianca October 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

    That really is a great photo 🙂

    Fantastic advise too. I wish this was around when I started out.

  7. theevipvop October 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

    ’10. No one gives a fuck what you think. Get over it.’

    This should be taken as life advice.

  8. Everett True October 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    This is pretty good stuff.

  9. Georgia October 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    #22 comes with a disclaimer – people may try to sleep with you knowing that you have access to the musicians. That doesn’t mean you’re going to give them access. In either form.

  10. Everett True October 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Yeah well. Of course. I just didn’t want to let on.

  11. Polly Birkbeck October 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I NEVER lie!
    Yes that is a GREAT picture

  12. Darragh October 6, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Oh shit, I’m fucked!

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  14. Fortz Hard October 7, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Rule 666: DON’T WRITE UNREADABLE BOOKS ABOUT SHIT MUSIC MADE BY SHITHEAD SMACKIES eg: LIVE THROUGH THIS: ROCK MUSIC IN THE 90s..

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  16. Ian Rogers October 27, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I try and describe the music as seldom as possible when writing a music review. It’s boring. The way musicians look and act is much more interesting. I often make jokes about what people sing in songs but they’re mainly for my own benefit.

    That’s the secret of my success.

    Also, 800+ words is good. Less than 300 words is ad copy. Unless you’re Christgau. Then less than 50 words is a beautiful beam of light. Or a laser cutting your guts open. Depending on his mood.

    #48 deserves it’s max caps highlighting.

    ET writes good reviews. I read them. Seemed like an important point.

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  18. Ed November 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    A fun list to read, but I reckon #13 (“Don’t ever try to describe the music”) is a bit of ultra-mild, conservative advice – an encouragement to back away from thinking about the sound itself, and play it safe by writing ‘around’ the edges instead. Sure, almost no one writes well when describing sound (I certainly can’t do it well!), but I think this is exactly what the best music writing does: somehow approximating and conjuring noise anew on the page, and telling us what is special about a piece of music, not through simple valuation but by a kind of writerly demonstration/invocation of the music. If you back away from this, well, that can be fine and entertaining too, but it’d be a good thing if more people could get their chops around the main thing, the sound, rather than all the other stuff. Even the sound of the worst types of corporate pop music is there to be interestingly described if you’ve got the chops (or care to develop them).

  19. Everett True November 13, 2010 at 6:49 am

    I threw that one in, Ed, because most usually the words the critic uses to describe the music are cliché, tantamount to running a list of every last band-member’s full name. Worse than nonsense.

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  21. Luke February 20, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Well, it seems that you think in rainbows its not a good record which eventually leads us to:

    1) You didnt hear it enough.
    2) You are deaf.
    3) You didnt hear it enough becuase you are deaf and clearly no one gives a fuck what you think.

    Others advices seems worth but then again? who is this guy? what am i missing? the thing about the stones? fail.

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