Instructions & Guidelines for Authors

Instructions & Guidelines for Authors Contributing to Buzzard Tracks

(or how things work around here)

The intention of Buzzard Tracks is to present information and opinion concerning music in Northeast Ohio.  Toward that end, we publish CD reviews, concert reviews, interviews, and news items.  Because this is a blog intended first and foremost for the Hiram College Community, we normally expect contributors to be members of that community, although we are happy to hear from anyone who wants to contribute.

If you have an interest in being a contributor to Buzzard Tracks, please email me, Jeff Wanser, at  Tell me what sorts of music are of interest to you and what kinds of writing you would like to do.  In many cases, and especially if I do not know you, I would like to see an example of your writing.  I would like to publish only excellent writing.

We hope to publish reviews in all genres of music generated by Northeast Ohio artists.  This includes:  Pop, Rock, Rap, R&B, Techno, Metal, Classical, Jazz, Folk, Country, Blues, Bluegrass, Gospel, Choral, Polka, New Age, Americana, World, Experimental, Electronic, and any other category I have left out.  My attitude is that all types of music are valid in and of themselves, and can be evaluated within the context of the musical, aesthetic, and social values of that style. Please do not offer to review an item intending to trash it because you don’t like that type of music. Such a review is unproductive and not in the spirit of the blog.

You may contribute under a pseudonym if you like.  If you are selected to be a contributor, please supply me with a short biographical description for our authors page.  The description may be accurate or fictional.

Every two weeks or so (depending on circumstances), I will send out a list of CDs available for review to the current bullpen of authors.  You may select one at a time.  If more than one person wishes to review the item, I will either select which author is most suited, or alternatively consider more than one review of the item.  Unlike many publications where the author gets to keep the CD, if we have only one copy it comes back to me, to become a part of the Library’s collection.  If you own the item and suggest that it be reviewed, that simply becomes a negotiation between us about whether to review it.  Digital music will be made available in a similar fashion.  Concerts may be reviewed by anyone who wants to write about them, but we will publish no more than two reviews of each concert.  We cannot at this time supply tickets or travel accommodations.  

Buzzard Tracks is intended to be both educational and entertaining.  To that end, please feel free to use relatively informal language in your reviews and other writings, as needed.  However, given the wide-ranging audience you are writing for, please recognize that four-letter words should be kept at a minimum, and libelous statements will be removed from the writing.

Since I am the Editor, you must realize that I will likely edit your copy.  This is normal.  My intention is to improve the piece.  We may disagree about what I have edited, and I will make every effort to compromise to arrive at a mutually satisfactory product.  However, as Editor I am the final arbiter.  If you cannot subscribe to that dictate, please feel free to not contribute.

Plagiarism cannot be tolerated, as it both diminishes the efforts of all the contributors, and leaves us open to legal action.  If I discover that you have copied from someone else’s review, not only will I not publish the review (or remove it if it has already been published), I will remove every piece of writing you have contributed, and wipe the site clean of your stain.

Music reviews should generally conform to the following guidelines:

  • Reviews should be approximately 300-500 words in length.  This can vary depending upon circumstances, such as boxed sets.
  • Each popular music review should contain the following elements:  Artist; Title; Performers; List of Tracks.  The header elements do not count towards the word length.
  • Each classical music review should contain the following elements:  Composer or Artist; Title or Titles; List of Performers (unless they are too numerous); List of Tracks (the components will vary depending upon circumstances)  The header elements do not count towards the word length.
  • Record label (if any), and appropriate web links to the artist or record label, if possible.
  • The body of the review should not only state your opinion of the music, but place it in the context of the artist’s other work, and perhaps the genre in general. This may require some outside homework.  Feel free to use AllMusic and other sources for basic background, but please paraphrase the material rather than quoting directly.
  • I do not expect glowing reviews, unless the music is truly glowing.  Please point out both the positive and negative aspects of the item you are reviewing in an honest fashion.  I also do not expect a bunch of trashtalk.
  • Please submit your review as a Word document, if possible.  If you cannot, send it a plain text format.

For examples of reviews, please feel free to take a look at other sources that have similar reviews in terms of length.  These include Jazz Times, Gramophone, Downbeat, Sing Out!, Rolling Stone, and various websites.  

Other kinds of writing have fewer restrictions and less standardization.  Concert reviews may be longer than 500 words.  If you wish to interview an artist, please contact me about necessary release forms.

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