Several people have got in touch about the difficulty of musicians getting their concerts reviewed by the press. They point out that where they live, newspapers are ‘letting go’ of their classical music critics and shrinking the team of arts critics generally. The space devoted to arts coverage in newspapers is under threat, and in music we have the particular problem that ‘classical’ is often squeezed out by other, more commercially successful kinds. What newspapers call ‘music’ pages these days are often mainly pop and rock, and on some days there’s no classical music there at all. Editors say that this simply reflects the vastly greater numbers of people who follow pop and rock. But of course it’s a vicious circle; the less they write about us, the less we’re likely to be noticed.
I suppose there’s no reason that reviews have to appear in newspapers. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, there’s some very fine arts writing out there on the web. However, at the time of writing it’s not considered ‘bona fide’ in music circles to supply internet reviews when you’re asked for proof of your professional standing. Not long ago I helped to assemble a bunch of reviews for a grant application. We included both newspaper and internet reviews, but our advisors asked us to drop all the web reviews because ‘they don’t look real’. This attitude will have to change, and no doubt it’s already changing. It will have to be acceptable to produce ‘references’ from other serious and well-regarded sources. As we read of newspapers disappearing in print form, and moving online only, we musicians have to prepare for a future in which there will be no hard copies of reviews, ‘not even for ready money’, as Oscar Wilde would say.