ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to write a good music review

Updated on January 15, 2010

Write like a pro!

In this digital age, anybody can be a critic. Blogs are generally free to start, Amazon want you to review your purchases and there’s an abundance of music websites who will happily take your work and publish it. As with any kind of market saturation, there is always going to be a gulf in class between those who can pull it off well, and have been doing so for many years, and those who mean well but haven’t quite nailed the art yet.

Never fear though, nobody is born a professional journalist and it takes time to perfect the art. This guide will provide you with valuable tips on writing music reviews and will also point out some traps that aspiring writers fall into:

1. Be as creative as you like. The best writers are the ones who are entertaining. Treat writing a review as something that is fun and not a chore, otherwise it will show!

2. Less is more. Nobody is going to read an essay-sized review. Try to keep it short and punchy; 150-200 words is a nice length. 300 words at the very most for album reviews, although live reviews can be longer depending on the event. Nobody is interested in reading a 500 word history - get to the point! My team of writers know that anything too long will be trimmed! Anyone with professional journalism training will tell you that keeping within a word limit is a skill in itself.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of language. What’s more effective? “Nice riff that’s really powerful and the vocals are good too” or “It hits you like a wall of noise with each element ricocheting inside your head; the cascading, thick layers of electric guitar and the visceral vocal attack combine spectacularly”

4. Avoid first person narration. It’s unprofessional and easy to avoid. Try phrases such as “It could be said that….” and “One might suggest…” instead of “I think that…”

5. Assume that your reader already knows a bit about music. Don’t over explain everything or assume your reader is stupid. They’ve come across your review because they were looking for it.

6. Spell check and proofread. If you’re unsure on something, ask a friend to read it through.

7.  Do not talk about how much you love an artist. Bias is easy to spot and nobody cares what a fan boy thinks.

8. Don’t be too pretentious. Like it says above, language is powerful so be creative and have fun, but nobody is going to be impressed by how many big words you use.

9. Don’t forget to actually make your point! How many times have you read a review but been left none the wiser as to whether it’s actually good?

10. Read other people’s reviews. Make sure you don’t miss out on any details, but don’t go stealing their work because you will get found out!

11. A couple of comparisons are acceptable for lesser established artists, but avoid them completely when talking about well established artists.

12. Most importantly - have an original and definite style!

Here is a template for writing a good review.

[Intro – 50-70 words | Include a bit of background information, possibly who produced it, where they were at before this release and if the band are unknown – where they’re from and a couple of influences. This part of the review should mostly include facts.]
[Details – 70-120 words | The interesting bit – what’s on it? What does it sound like? How to is compare? Have they evolved or are they pretty much the same? Rate and slate as much as you like – remember: this is supposed to be entertaining. Use exaggerated comparisons, inventive analogies and metaphor to get your point across.]

[Conclusion – 50-100 words | Just wrap it up really. Never finish a review abruptly because it’s unprofessional. Instead, just to fade it out with some light comments about whether it’s worth listening to or not.]

And here is an example review:

Alexisonfire – Old Crows / Young Cardinals Review

Having already matured with their 2006 release ‘Crisis’, Alexisonfire have come back this year with their fourth full-length album ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ – an absolute gem. ‘Crisis’ saw the Canadian five-piece transform their post-hardcore sound into something more refined and artistic and 2009 has only seen them develop further.
Fans loyal to early Alexisonfire may hate this progression away from their geeky past, but to keep them sweet there is still a bit of shouty punk in the mix with ‘Young Cardinals’. The two songs ‘Sons of Privilege’ and ‘Born and Raised’ sit together perfectly separated only by a split second of silence – ample time for you to punch the air just before you rock your arse off.

Lyrically the band have produced their most challenging record yet; they tackle themes such as economics and those who oppose same-sex marriage and with loads of catchy vocal hooks to sing along to. You can’t go wrong!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Great article... I started writing a review based on your tips and I'm wondering if you could edit it for me?! email me at iman.kninja [at] and we can chat :) thanks!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Howdy. Simply just planned to ask a quick problem. Now i'm cefbgbgbcadf

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      very good advice i set the rating scale at 1 but that was before i read this page!! sorry

    • profile image

      Maria Varnava 

      4 years ago

      This is super useful, best "how to" on this subject. However, I'm not sure what you mean by "How to is compare?" in the "details" part of your template of a good review. I could be reading it wrong but I can't figure out what you mean.


    • Red_Hot_Dave profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Glad you liked it!

    • Shinkicker profile image


      8 years ago from Scotland

      Handy advice Dave. Good Hub


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)