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No matter what format of music you prefer—CD or digital—if you are like most music fans, you probably want to ask friends or peruse music review sites for positive feedback before you invest in a whole album (or, if you’re frugal, even a single track). The Internet is filled with music review websites, some filled with content generated by fans like you and others featuring the opinion of reputable music critics. Many long-time print magazines have also gone digital, but these publications and other entertainment-related sites offer reviews of the hot new release.
There are hundreds of music review websites featuring commentary from everyday music fans to long-time music critics. What if the top content from all those music review sites could be easier to find? That’s the idea behind Metacritic, which got its start in 1999. The site aggregates reviews from critics and sites across the Internet. Metcritic devised its own rating system, the metascore, to help find the best reviews from respected critics.
Chicago-based Pitchfork has been publishing music reviews and news since 1995. While the online publication is geared toward indie music, it also covers a range of genres. The writing and music criticism is professional—trained journalists and critics here. When it comes to websites, good content is a necessity. But so is the total user experience. Pitchfork is extremely clean and user-friendly. The navigation is easy to follow and allows you to drill right down to what you want. For instance, its Best New Music section breaks content down further into subcategories such as best new albums, best new tracks, best new reissues and 8.0+ reviews. Reviews are just one area for Pitchfork; visitors can also enjoy interviews, columns, music news and more. Entertainment Weekly calls Pitchfork “a taste-making institution that’s hard to ignore,” citing how it helped bands like Arcade gain recognition.
Paste is an award-winning online pop culture destination, which also published a print companion from 2002 to 2010. The online magazine covers everything from movies and video games to books and television and, of course, music. Paste’s music coverage is vast and includes reviews, premieres, in-depth interviews and long-form writing as well as reviews from a wide array of genres. Paste writers are active in the music scene, such as speaking and attending industry events like SXSW, which shows a display of passion.
Spin, also a print magazine from 1985 until 2013, has a mission to tell the stories “behind today’s most fascinating trends, scenes and artists while spotlighting the iconic music of the present and past.” The magazine prides itself on journalist integrity and tough-minded criticism. Spin features reviews from across the genres, focusing on new releases. And the review section has a different “spin” to it: There’s a category for “worst new music.”
Billboard, along with its charts, has been a radio and record industry staple since the beginning. In fact, Billboard got its start in 1894. Since 1995, Billboard has been online, and in addition to its traditional charts of what is currently hot from genre to genre, the magazine offers music fans interviews, reviews, videos, artist information and photos. Professional music writers from around the world pen its reviews, ensuring well-written pieces that can help you decide what to buy or download. The print version of Billboard is still geared toward the industry, but the website has mass appeal.