Music journalists publish pieces about contemporary musicians.
Music scenes can be hard to keep up with; it seems like every day brings someone new into the spotlight. Someone has to be responsible for bridging the gap between artist and audience. Music journalists do the legwork of researching developments in live and recorded music, distilling what they find into pieces that give the public a curated glimpse of their favorite musicians. These days, the scope of music journalism has expanded; some pieces consist of video content or audio clips rather than written articles. The role of some music journalists may overlap with content production, meaning they may focus less on writing articles and more on making accessible media. It's important to know different aspects of the music scene; most music journalists keep up with established artists, keep an eye on rising stars, and know where to look for underground legends and undiscovered talent. Many journalists have a niche, but they should still be prepared for a variety of scenarios, since any assignment could lead them into unfamiliar territory.
The bulk of a music journalist's time is spent fact-checking, reaching out to sources, and working independently to finish pieces. Music journalists are often held to tight deadlines and may work nontraditional hours; most shows, industry events, and networking opportunities happen on nights or weekends. Being expected to work outside the scope of the business day can be either stressful or fun, depending on the work involved.
Work in music journalism may include...
- Conducting interviews with musicians
- Writing and submitting pieces before deadlines
- Maintaining relationships with industry contacts
- Attending music events and performances
- Researching topics and listening to releases
Some music journalists are employed by magazines, newspapers, or media companies. They may work full time, fulfilling assignments as they come in, or part time, on a few projects. Many work as freelancers, submitting occasional articles to blogs and music websites, or run independent sites and channels where they can post their work. Working for a prominent music publication can give a music journalist access to all kinds of exclusive events, but may offer less freedom and stricter deadlines. Finding the right fit can take a while, but with dedication and a great portfolio, a music journalist can get paid to write about great tunes full time.
There are a few different ways to get started in music journalism. Some pursue degrees in journalism or communications, while others take a more direct route and just start writing, building a portfolio of work they can use as leverage to land higher paying gigs. Internships are a time-honored way to get into the industry, and aspiring journalists can gain valuable knowledge and connections by making a good impression.
If you're deeply entrenched in your local music scene and always know how to find the cool new sound, consider a career in music journalism - it might be everything you're looking for.
The Jazz Journalists Association is a nonprofit that supports accurate, balanced, ethical, and informative journalism on all of jazz's genres.
The Latino Entertainment Journalists Association is committed to developing, celebrating, and amplifying Latino voices in the area of entertainment journalism.
The International Federation of Music Journalists is an international association of media professionals who treat any aspect of music on any media.