Bad Burns night: Scotsman ends classical and jazz record reviews

Bad Burns night: Scotsman ends classical and jazz record reviews


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2014

The Scotsman, Edinburgh-based newspaper of Caldeonian nationhood, has decided to stop reviewing classical, jazz and world music recordings.

The editorial decision seems a tad odd at a time when Scots musicians are rising high in all three genres, but print newspapers these days can barely afford to pay for a cup of Horlicks let alone a record review. The result: in the run-up to the independence referendum, Scotsman readers have no way of knowing what their musicians are up to.

One Scottish jazzman, Tommy Smith, has published an online protest. James MacMillan and Nicola Benedetti – let’s be hearing it from you.




  • Tully Potter says:

    They’re dumbing doon

    In Auld Reekie toon…

  • No news is bad news.

  • So go to the mountain!

    Newspapers are desperate for low cost content.

    A well prepared review prepared by a plausibly neutral ‘friend of the industry/venue/musical group’ offered exclusivly and gratis could be snapped up and published. As long as it doesn’t read like a fan review and has credibility, it will likely be accepted.

  • Tommy says:

    “Scotsman readers have no way of knowing what their musicians are up to.”

    They could try going to (and therefore supporting) the concerts, I suppose…

    • Stereo says:

      Well said.

    • Alison says:

      Exactly. However, comment from my Scottish uncle: “It’s nice to have these things for the ladies”.

      Hopefully not typical.

    • Anon says:

      And it reads as though it’s CD reviews that are going, which suggests concert reviews will still be there. More relevant, perhaps, to the reader (who if interested in recordings probably reads a specialist publication such as BBC Music, Gramophone, IRR, anyway, and doesn’t rely on a handful of CD reviews once a week in the Scotsman).

      Even more useful than a concert review after the event, I doubt the Scotsman will stop press articles and features previewing concerts and events; more useful because there’s actually a chance of readers then attending, rather than reading a review and wishing they had.

  • This petition is now closed with the following message from its creator:

    “Dear Supporters of ‘Review all Genres of Music’,

    “When I departed home this morning the petition was quiescent at 442 and my bones were unsettled. Having just returned from teaching at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland it’s now ascending at an active 832. I’ve taken time to dutifully read everything everyone has written and I’d like to take this humble opportunity to thank you all; this grand list of individuals from 21 countries, for your time, resolve, passion and creativity. For without whom, this entire petition would not have had the effect to cause such a swift wave in the corridors of power.

    “Waiting in my inbox, was an email from the Deputy Arts Editor of The Scotsman, who, this morning brought it to the attention of his management, who, in turned, quickly made money available for the continuation of World, classical and jazz CDs reviews; Weekend Life magazine is also going to thrive.

    “There will be no reviews this weekend but the three journalists involved are firmly reinstated, ready to listen, reflect and review World, classical and jazz music for all of us on February 8th. This is especially important to all the homegrown talent in Scotland, as it is a platform to the world stage.

    “For me, this, my first petition, was worth the sacrifice of besmirching my name against my hometown newspaper, who I’ve supported all my life, but the principle of injustice outweighed any personal loss to me.

    “I ended my petition with the 3rd line in the first stanza of Burn’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’. I will conclude this notification to you all with the 3rd line in the last stanza of the same song. ‘And we’ll take a rich guid-willy waught’; a draught of good fellowship.

    “Best wishes from the bottom of my heart.

    “Tommy Smith”