Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Review Insanity

The latest: There's a new Van Hunt album. I've liked Hunt, but I understand why Blue Note didn't release his last album for them. The publicist for his new album sent out a download link complete with a password and login information. Go through that link and you get to a page with a Download button. Click it and it asks you for your email address. Instead of getting the album then, you have to go to your email to get what I assume is the real link to the album. I have no idea if that's the end of the line or not because I quit trying. If I have to work that hard to get an album for review, I'd sooner review something on my desk or already on my hard drive. If someone actually wants a review, I shouldn't have to work this hard. Since critics have liked Hunt more than buyers have, this scavenger hunt approach to servicing reviewers seems particularly odd.


Anonymous said...

Would you review an album that is for sale as a download only? Would the best way to get you to review be to send you a physical CD of it?

I ask these questions because it sometimes seems that the physical CD is more important to reviewers than listeners sometimes.

Would you be ok with an easy "here's a direct link to the zip file" download for review?

Alex Rawls said...

I recently did review Cher and Sammy Davis, Jr. albums that are download-only, so yes, I review download-only albums. The physical disc is handy because it's a very tangible reminder of what's around to be reviewed, whereas albums that join the army of files in iTunes can get overlooked.

Many publicists and labels now service reviewers with downloads of album, but many have far more manageable systems. Usually it's a variation of "here's a link to the zip file." In the case of the Van Hunt album, it was the insanity of a system that made me essentially ask twice for the album that pissed me off.

Anonymous said...

Ok, one step further. Would you review an album that isn't for sale, but is only distributed as a free download?

If we buy into the "all the money comes from performing" schtick, it would seem that we are only making recordings to get press and draw live crowds. Can one get press without all of the expense of manufacturing a CD?

Alex Rawls said...

Sure. I've written about Girl Talk's "Feed the Animals," which people download and name their own price, free being an option.

I'm not as concerned about how the CD is made available as long as it is. I don't review demos or music that isn't commercially available because there's no point in telling people about music they can't get.