HOW YOU CAN START YOUR MUSIC JOURNALISM CAREER TODAY

For a music fan who can write and photograph, music journalism is an exciting career path to take. You get to go to shows for review purposes and enjoy the music as a professional and fan. You get to have some of your favorite artists in your portfolio (at least most of the time). If you do interviews, you get to meet great people including up and coming bands that could blow up that very same year.

The job and journey has its struggles. However, that shouldn’t scare you off from entering the music journalism world if you love it. If you’re interested in diving in, here are some tips from someone who’s done it for 10 years.

Be sure to join my Patreon community for more insider knowledge about the job, behind the scenes photos and videos from coverage days, and even more exclusive content!

Also, if any of my music journalist peers read through this and want to leave some advice for the newbies, feel free to leave some words in the comments.


JUST START WRITING AND/OR TAKING PHOTOS & POST YOUR CONTENT

The simplest thing to do is to just start doing it! The easiest way to get assignments and build a credible portfolio for yourself is to join an existing publication (usually a small online one). If you are really set on starting off on your own, though, you can make your own online blog/outlet; just remember that this is more of an expense for you than working under someone else to start. Self-doubt may be a thing, too (it was for me, which is why the photography portion of my journey started so late), but just do it. It’s inevitable that your early work will never be your best; you WILL get better with practice.

While my interest in music has been lifelong, I only started blogging about it when I was a 19-year-old Professional Writing student in 2012. I created a music blog that, quite frankly, didn’t have much focus and organization. However, I shared songs that I liked and wrote brief concert reviews on there. I had no industry connections (or, really, any “concert friends”) back then, and I had no goal in sight for the page. All I wanted to do was write about something I enjoy because I also always enjoyed writing. In 2013, my dearly missed friend Courtney brought me on to her publication. And the rest is history since I continued on after her passing from cancer in December 2015.

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

Networking is crucial in any industry, but it’s a MUST in the music industry. If you have social anxiety and shut down, you will not survive; that’s just the way it is. (I had to get over some crippling social anxiety myself over the years.) You more often meet more cool, interesting, and helpful people along the way than mean ones. Keep in mind those people do exist, though, and have thick skin about it.

When you talk to other people, be yourself (as cliche as that sounds). Talk to people with the intention of making friends in the industry rather than trying to get things out of people; people see right through that attitude. Find common ground with people and be interested in learning more about them as an individual just as you would talking to anyone else.

PRACTICE EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Everything about journalism requires communication skills. Even if you aren’t interviewing an artist directly, you often communicate with members of their team (primarily their publicists). Publicists are the people you receive album/single review requests from and make media requests to for things like review tickets and photo passes. They often require that you send them links to the coverage they/you requested, so be sure to send them what they ask for if you plan on working with them in the future and keeping a great working relationship intact.

Communication is also important within the publication team. If you work for an existing publication, the editor team will likely keep tabs with the progress of your work and expect updates on your submission. And, if you are running something yourself with even one other person, you’ll be asking for progress on assignments yourself from said team member(s). No one likes getting ghosted. Not only that, but not following through with work you promise could get you blacklisted within the industry. You don’t want that, right?

DO IT BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT

I’ve been doing this a long time because I enjoy what I do. I do have some real talk advice for you, though; if you get into the journalism game for money, somebody misguided you. First of all, it’s very rare to find paid music journalism jobs within the sea of outlets out there. Even if you do, you probably won’t make as much money as you think you will.

I didn’t start off this section that way to scare you off from doing it at all. I just want you to understand that point and do it because it’s what makes you smile throughout the day and get out of bed in the morning when your day job alarm wakes you up. It does take a toll sometimes working so hard on something you love for no monetary results, but the memories you have make it worth it in the end (at least to me).

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