At its best, this kind of writing helps you figure out if you're making sense of the music. In my side of the field (which isn't popular music), I have a fair collection of scores, but making sense of them was aided immensely by writers like, say, Douglas Jarman on Berg, or Charles Rosen on Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Plentiful analyses and examples in these books, but clearly written (so that even someone who can't read the examples will get the gist) and done in the aid of aesthetic insights. This kind of criticism/music history/musicology is rather more plentiful on the "serious (or classical) music" side (I don't like either term, but they're what we have) than on the popular one.
Yeah, I have my own insights, but they had others that I didn't have, and that's why I read their works. Does that hinder me as a composer? Can't say that it does: getting insights from critics doesn't make my own music worse; it makes it better. The trick here is remembering that I bring something of my own to the discussion, thus it's not an acceptance of the critic's words as gospel, but as a goad to refine my own understanding.
The rest of it is ephemeral. Recording techniques used? Fine, but what does the band do onstage? A piece of music isn't really frozen in time or in one form, not even for those of us who write out our notes. Personal trivia? Why would I want to know? Lifestyle? Who cares? I like, say, Jeff Beck, but I'm not into hot rods in the same way - his music is accomplished and wide-ranging, and that is what interests me. If I got some further insight into his songwriting through an article, now that would be interesting.
Do you think what you learned in school was all that's needed to understand harmonic structure? Label the chords and you've got it? A (Heaven forfend!) critic is guaranteed not to have insights that you haven't already worked out? It's guaranteed that he can't communicate these to a layman?