Music critics write opinion pieces about new releases.
For music lovers, the world of new releases and existing music can be hard to navigate; it's hard to know where to start looking for new music that sounds similar to a favorite song or find a genre you don't know the name of. It can be a huge relief to find a thoughtful opinion piece from a trusted source that provides this type of information and more. Music criticism is a branch of music journalism that focuses less on news, events, and conversation with musicians and more on deconstructing new music. Working as a music critic requires a snappy, individual writing style and a set of well-developed opinions on music. This isn't a job for someone who will happily listen to anything that comes on the radio - music criticism requires critical thought and a decisive stance. Some critics become well-known personalities known for their polarizing takes or consistent taste.
These days, most music critics are freelance bloggers, though a number are formally employed by newspapers, music sites, and media companies. Working for a publication can be a great avenue for exposure and regular work; however, these jobs can be competitive and often come with tight deadlines and restrictions. Another point to note is public opinion - diehard fans can leave scathing comments on bad reviews of their favorite musicians, which can be difficult for some writers to handle.
Work as a music critic may include...
- Listening to newly released music
- Rating or ranking tracks
- Writing reviews of specific songs or albums
- Composing articles, blurbs, and pieces on music
- Meeting assignments on deadline
The day to day work of music criticism can look any number of ways. Some critics work out of offices, where they may have a dedicated writing space and an ever-growing stack of assignments. Others work from home, cranking out pieces before deadlines and answering endless e-mails. Some music criticism jobs are full time, but it can also be a great side gig for writers who want to break into the business.
There are lots of different ways to become a music critic. Some music lovers start out reviewing new albums and singles on their own time, writing up concise opinion pieces that call attention to their successes and weak points. This kind of independent work is ideal for building a portfolio, and can be a great way to demonstrate ability to paying employers. It's also common for aspiring critics to find work in journalism, climbing the ranks until they get the chance to focus on opinion pieces. Critics study all kinds of things at the college level, often pursuing degrees in subjects like journalism, creative writing, communications, or music. Any of these fields can prepare a student to work writing articles, provided they polish their writing style.
If you're a music lover with a lot to say, consider becoming a music critic; for writers with thick skin who know where they stand, it can be the perfect career.
The Music Critics Association of North America is the only North American association devoted solely to professional classical music critics.