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What does a Music Journalist do?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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For someone who is interested in music and writing, a career as a music journalist can be an excellent choice. There are many different avenues to take when working in music journalism, and the career can largely be tailored to an individual journalist's interests and passions. On the most basic level, a music journalist writes about news and information in the music industry.

A music journalist may work for a number of different publications. A music magazine or music trade publication are obviously common choices, but general interest magazines and newspapers often hire a music columnist for their entertainment sections. In addition, there are many opportunities online, on music blogs or other freelance websites. Many music journalists work as freelancers for a period of time before being hired on staff at a publication.

One type of music journalist is primarily a reviewer. This type of journalist may receive new albums or DVD releases before they are released to the general public, and will review this new media for publications. He or she may also attend concerts and write reviews for local newspapers. A music reviewer might also write general interest pieces about the music and the entertainment industry, or behind-the-scenes information.

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Other types of music journalists may focus much of their work on interviewing musicians and producers. Of course, not every music journalist fits into only one of these categories. Plenty of music writers enjoy covering all sides of the industry, from reviews to interviews and everything in between. Music journalists exist for all different types and styles of music as well, from journalists who only critique classical music to those who cover pop albums heard frequently on the radio.

Music journalism is a highly competitive field, so someone who wants to become a music journalist will probably have to pitch ideas and articles to a number of different editors before getting published. It is a good idea to build up a portfolio of published or unpublished clips to demonstrate writing ability. This is another way in which a personal blog could come in handy; publishing music reviews on a blog is a great way to help get noticed.

There is no formal education required to become a music journalist, but many aspiring writers attend college for a four-year degree. Many pursue degrees in English, communications, or journalism. Not only does this help one learn a bit about the publishing industry, but it can also help to create valuable contacts in the field.

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livereal
Post 3

@thetiger and ella3 - To answer one of the questions you both touched on, I think blogging is a really great way to get your name and your material out there for future journalism jobs. The article mentions this, and it is especially relevant now. I don’t have a music blog, but I have a couple other blogs. They are a good platform to post on topics I enjoy. I’ve used these blogs as experience when looking into writing positions.

I know it can be hard to start blogging (it was for me), but really sticking with it and trying to post regularly really helps you gain credibility. I noticed a quick upturn in my readers and followers on my blogs when I started posting regularly and future employers will notice it too. Just my two cents!

ella3
Post 2

@thetiger - I’m also interested in some type of journalism writing, and music journalism has always seemed like such a cool field. I wonder if anyone reading this could give us an inside view of this line of work?

I’ve read some pretty fascinating articles about musical journalism, especially in the upper levels of the field. I remember reading one article about someone who worked for a big music magazine. The writer said that while there are some really great aspects to the job, it was often very controlled by the editors and popular opinions. I don’t know that every music magazine would be like this, but does anyone know anything more about it?

TheTiger
Post 1

I used to be really interested in being a music journalist. I discovered that any type of journalism position is really hard to get, and music journalist jobs are one of the most competitive. Like the article says, it’s important to build a portfolio and really put yourself out there.

I’ve been working to put together some printed material and build up my portfolio, but it’s hard to get published without already having some sort of reputation. Anyone have any experience or advice with this?

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