(Last updated May 23, 2006 -- updates in italics)
In between whimsically and/or sarcastically rewriting press releases from children's music artists, I also review albums in a mostly eager manner. You might wonder how, as an international superagent, I find the time to review these CDs -- OK, I'm not really an international superagent, but I am a father of two, and international superagents have nothing on parents -- and the answer is, I'm not sure. I just know that I like listening to good kids' music and telling others about it.
I have already received a few albums from artists seeking a review from this site, and I figure it's time for me to actually outline the Official Zooglobble Album Review Policy. (This was pre-NPR -- strike "a few," insert "lots and lots of".) I'm going to call it "OZARP" just so I can do web searches for "OZARP" in a few days and see what turns up.
There are just two rules in the OZARP, though I've added some additional guidance.
#1 -- All albums submitted for review shall include complete artwork and an ISBN (barcode).
Basically, I want to review the CD as the actual end user will receive it, and with proof that somebody out there could conceivably buy it. So please, no CD-Rs, no CDs without the case and any inserts.
Two modifications based on a whole bunch of experience now...
1. CD-Rs sold at CDBaby are A-OK. I understand better now some of the economics of producing a CD and understand that some people may not have the upfront cash to do a fancy pressing. Like I said, if it's sold through CDBaby, it's fine by me.
2. Advance promotional copies (CD-R or otherwise) of albums yet-to-be-released are also OK. I like receiving lyrics/liner notes along with the promo CD, too, though that can be electronically. And I still prefer to see the finished product (even if I've already received the promo copy) -- I do find the physical product to be important to how the end user interacts with the music.
Beyond that, I would encourage artists who are considering submitting their album(s) for review consider the preferences, attitudes, and biases already reflected in the ever-increasing list of reviews on the site. I've never made any pretense to be a music educator trying to find the "perfect" or most developmentally appropriate CD for a child -- I'm a parent with two young kids (though, as They Might Be Giants would note, every moment they're getting older) and I love music. And while I don't entirely disagree with Barney Gumble's approach to life ("I'm not a picky man, Homer. Braaaaaah."), there are going to be certain CDs I probably won't like.
Additional promotional materials are not required with the CD, though I'll look at whatever else you send. It almost goes without saying these days, but a website link is especially helpful. If it's a yet-to-be-released album, a scheduled release date is also helpful.
#2 -- Quotations of two sentences or less on artists' websites or other promotional materials or by other websites/magazines do not require permission from the site owner. Quotations longer than two sentences, or any quotations attached to products actually sold to others, require express permission from the site owner.
OK, I realize the very last part of #2 is not common, but I know that artists will quote reviews on websites, promotional materials, and even on CD wrappers/covers. I'm just covering myself in the event that somebody wants to quote me on the latter. I'm not expecting a lot of letters from that provision.
Other than that, I'll try to notify you shortly before or after I post a review of an album you've submitted. We always appreciate links to the review or the website generally, but no links are required.
Please don't ask me when a review of the album you submitted will be up -- I'm a busy, busy man. The order in which I review CDs on the site is a complicated and patented algorithm that involves how much I like the CD, how long it's been since I last reviewed an album of yours, and whether you employed a penny whistle on your CD -- in other words, it all depends. Rest assured that if I really like your CD, I'll want to tell people about it sooner rather than later, "sooner" and "later" being relative terms around here.
If you do e-mail me asking about the status of a CD review (e.g., because you want to make sure I actually received the CD(s), and I totally understand that), you'll probably get a pleasant e-mail saying I haven't made up my mind yet, regardless of whether I've got a pretty good idea that I'm reviewing it next week or never. Rest assured, however, that I do, as promised, listen to every CD I get multiple times before I decide whether to review it. I know you've put a lot of effort into producing it, and I respect that.
So that's it. Pretty simple, I think. If you are a children's music artist, PR person, or assorted hanger-on, and you're interested, use that link in the upper-right-hand corner to drop me a line and we'll go on from there.