Who cares about "good critics" and Ben Ratliff. I can't stand critics and I think it's pathetic that somebody would try to make a career out of being a critic. I'm glad he gave Gilad a good review, but I think it's egotistical and incredibly destructive to either over-praise or to belittle someones efforts in print.
Here are some highlights from a good article on music critics:
One difference between writers and musicians is that musicians avoid criticizing each other in print. Most book critics are published authors, seemingly the minimum qualification for publicly judging other people’s work. Musicians, however, tend to leave this job to a scorned class of musical eunuchs whose only qualification is, of course, that they can’t do the dirty deed themselves.
Critics, on the other hand, have nothing to lose. Their careers are already over. I have never met a music critic who is a successful musician. They either used to play, play in a garage band, pretend to play, or quit piano lessons when they were eleven. They start out hoping to make a contribution by pointing out how the real musicians fall short of the critic’s lofty standards. But in the end, most wind up as music-industry shills, hired suck-ups who hang at the teats of magazines and web sites that make their money from record-industry advertising. Even newspaper critics have to be careful not to offend the major venues and record labels whose money makes the Sunday Arts Section possible.
So why don’t musicians speak out, demand higher standards, or at least require critics to get the facts right? Truth is, they’ve got us by the short hairs, or at least we think so.
Everyday, independent musicians send copies of their latest CD to print and on-line media, praying they will get a mention. The goal is to generate a buzz and, hopefully, some sales. Guys, don’t get your hopes up. At least for independent music, reviews have little impact on sales. Word-of-mouth and selling from the stage move independent CDs, not reviews. Think about it. What idiot would spend fifteen dollars on a CD by a band they’ve never heard of, just because some guy they’ve never heard of recommends it? Remember, critics are mosquitoes sucking at the elephant of Art. Unless they’re diseased, they make no mark at all. And the only way you can catch their musical malaria is by believing what they say. Trust me, you know better than they do.
“But wait!” I hear you crying, “Don, you’re such a hypocrite! Here you are, referring to critics as parasites, yet you post their reviews on your web site and you write reviews of other peoples’ CDs as well.”
Correct. I’m not saying people should stop writing about music, but I’m not a critic, either. I don’t shill for the record companies or promote any of the indie ideologies which seek to politicize the art of music. I write reviews as a way of exploring artistic and professional issues that interest me, and to recommend music I think is cool.
One of the most important lessons we can teach them is that it’s okay to have negative opinions, but that it’s not beneficial to continually voice them. It doesn’t do anyone any good to condemn the work of other artists. One of my teachers told me you should never criticize anyone, especially if they’re better than you. Music critics should take heed, because in their case, that’s just about everyone.
I think part of the music critic problem is that so much of the public has little musical training and/or understanding. They hear something and either like it or they don't. But they never studied music as much as they studied math, history, etc. Many who did study an instrument as a child set it down years ago to focus on a non-music related career. Many couldn't criticize a musical performance other than saying I didn't like it or I liked it. So most don't even realize that a critic is inept and wouldn't know how to criticize the critic. If music was a bigger part of our basic education there would probably be more of a demand for better music and an intolerance of inept music critics.