CMJ panel discusses contemporary music criticism

By Matthew Mahoney


One of the many fascinating CMJ panels occurring this week in NYU’s own Kimmel Center was Oct. 21’s panel, which debated the role of music criticism in today’s world.

The panelists were Andre Torres (editor-in-chief of Wax Poetics), Zachary Lipez (Noisey and Talkhouse contributor), Christopher Weingarten (Rolling Stone contributor), Laina Dawes (a heavy metal journalist) and Michael Azerrad (Rolling Stone contributing editor and Talkhouse editor).

The topics generally focused on what music criticism has become, especially in this increasingly digital age. All five panelists agreed, for the most part, that music writing has focused more and more on gossip, which Lipez argued was an interesting topic. However, in general, the panelists agreed that that type of music journalism is not very professional. The panelists also talked about how many music journalists these days often just regurgitate previously published materials.

During the Q & A section, the panel offered many tips on how to become a renowned and respected music critic. Key points were to always be on-time and always be clean and professional in your work relationships.

Another point was about editors: it is important to have a good relationship with your editor, but it is also important to remember that a bad editor can ruin your reputation with poor edits.

Overall, the panel stressed the importance of good research, being polite and professional in your work relationships, and incorporating original ideas into your work.

Matthew Mahoney is a staff writer. Email him at


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