Professional Music Reviews.
The word "professional" generally gets a bad rap; most of the time - ironically enough - from people who consider themselves professionals.
Not every writer uses the same language to express an idea, just as the reader will interpret information according to the whims of their own imagination as well.
When I began writing reviews, it was to provide a means of interpreting popular culture that I would find interesting, as though I were the reader. I figured that someone else might find my take on these things interesting also.
After having published my own writing for a number of years, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to try writing for other publications. I wasn't in need of validation or anything, in fact I had discovered that quite by accident through my independent work. What I found curious about writing for syndicated publications, was that it wasn't much different than being a short-order cook. For the most part, editors seemed to avoid any personal discussion as to their seemingly arbitrary revisions, and the main focus seemed to be using the least amount of words - presumably, in order to leave more column inches for advertising.
Still, it wasn't a complete waste of time. And, as with any situation, it was a learning experience. Whether I always agreed with editorial decisions or not, the lessons were valuable - could I tell a story in fewer words? Could I appease an editor's appetite for more adjectives and irrelevant flourishes without obscuring the essence of the story itself, or surrendering my own voice as a writer? Happily, I often found a balance that we could both be happy with.
As an aside, I've decided to share some of my original, uncut interviews with various artists, which I think provides an important look at yet another part of the writing process. It's one thing to base a review on information at hand, it's another situation altogether when one has the opportunity to question the subject of an article - straight from the horses' mouth, as it were. It kind of rules out the possibility of mere speculation - or does it? Of course, this invites yet another opportunity for a different manner of editing - how to distill all of those conversational ideas down to a few succinct phrases which will support the context of the piece I'm writing? It's a good exercise - try it sometime!
In the end, the question of professionalism isn't an issue - I got paid for expressing my opinion, and in doing so, provided a service that more or less satisfied the requirements of a profession, I believe. End of story.