For as long as you can remember, music has been a huge passion of yours. You spend hours listening to the artists you love, you talk to your friends about it all the time, and there’s nothing as magical as going to a gig live, listening to the musicians right there in front of you. You love music so much that, recently, you’ve been thinking about breaking into the music journalism business. After all, if you could somehow find a way to make money, go to more gigs, and make connections with the musicians you admire–well, that’s your dream job. Obviously, it’s not necessarily easy to get started. But if you’re ready to put in the time and effort, you can make it as a music journalist.
So if you’re looking to get started in one of the most fun careers out there, here’s how you can break into the music journalism business:
1 Get started with a blog
Whether you want to pitch ideas to a big publication like Rolling Stone, or you’re going to query your favorite niche blogs that you obsessively follow, nothing is going to impress editors more than the fact that you’ve already got some great work written. And nothing demonstrates your passion for music as much as a blog that you’re working on without pay. You’re going to gigs and writing on your own; suddenly, you’ve got twenty great reviews that any editor can examine. Especially if you don’t have the right educational background (such as English or journalism), this is impressive.
If you aren’t sure what your posts should look like, see what your competitors are doing. Take a look at blogs you admire, and listen to podcasts so you can get an idea of what questions you should be asking artists when you interview them. Additionally, don’t forget to pick a niche. You can’t write about all music; the blog will be too unfocused. Instead, focus on a genre, or on the gigs in the dive bars in a certain region of Brooklyn. And don’t forget: long-form blog posts generate nine times more leads than short-form ones, so if you want to spend some extra time describing that guitar solo, go for it.
And don’t forget to edit. However great your passion for music is, the writing needs to be good. To learn more about writing great blog posts, check out these tips.
2 Advertise yourself on social media
Additionally, it’s a smart idea to make connections over social media. Once you’ve started blogging and putting yourself out there, you need to share your talent with the world. By creating a social media calendar and using the right hashtags, you’ll suddenly start getting more readers for your articles. Which also means that editors and bands might find you and ask you to write articles about gigs even before you’ve sent out any queries at all.
Another benefit of social media, especially in the music world, is that you can start making connections pretty quickly. By following your favorite bands and venues on Instagram and Facebook, you can easily send messages and get engaged. If a band wants you to review their set and promised you an interview, it’ll make the chances of publication with a magazine much higher. According to The Guardian, being active on social media can also help you eventually get a full-time job as a music journalist as more magazines go online because social media is essential to most writing jobs:
“[E]ven if your primary interest is print journalism, make sure you know how to use Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, SoundCloud [insert next new web-based bit of magic here] to promote yourself and your work and help you do your job. These skills will not only give you an edge over other journalists but will prepare you for the long-mooted print apocalypse.”
3 Make connections–in person
Finally, you need to make connections. We don’t mean online connections, either, even though it’s incredibly important to blog as much as you can and use the right online logo maker for your social media accounts. What matters most in the world of music (and in many art-related industries) is knowing the right people. The only way you’re going to do that is by putting yourself out there. Once you’ve established yourself as a good writer and published a couple of articles for music blogs you love, you can grow your business by meeting more people. Let’s not even mention the fact that it’s a dream come true to befriend the musicians you admire so much.
If you want some higher up connections in the industry, you can always apply for internships, but just being in the music industry can make a huge difference. And when it comes to querying editors, especially as you move up in the writing world, don’t forget to make every email personal. Focus on why you’ve picked that magazine specifically, referencing the style and articles they’ve published in the past. And considering that 51 percent of journalist believe “fake news” is a serious problem, your authenticity and love of music will shine.
These are some of the best strategies for breaking into the music journalism business. Why have you decided to become a music journalist?