If you have dreams of being a music journalist, best read this first.

One of the most coveted jobs in all of journalism is a job that involves covering music. And yeah, it’s a pretty cool gig. Unfortunately, (1) the number of proper-paying jobs are shrinking, (2) the number of people clamouring for what gigs are out there is increasing, and (3) it’s actually getting harder to do this gig right.

Aaron points us to this new article from the Columbia School of Journalism.

“A MUSIC WRITER’S JOB is easily romanticized: Imagine getting paid to listen to music, that most universal, immediately resonant, and cool-conferring of art forms. Sure, modern writers spend just as much time clearing their inbox as they do panning for aural gold, but that’s a small price to pay for hearing new records ahead of time, and going to shows for free. Advance far enough, and they might even get to hang out with the artists themselves, hopefully in the pages of a ritzy publication.

“Currently, however, a glut of digital publications struggle for access to artists who retain a greater degree of control over their narrative, with the help of an expanding field of publicists. Escalating traffic demands have pushed music publications toward a celebrity-driven model, catering to readers by covering artists who are already popular and focusing the rest of their coverage on others with the potential to become famous. Access-driven music journalism is increasingly repetitive and less revelatory than it ever has been; outlets run competitive interviews and profiles carved from the same diminished portion of time and the same homogenous pool of artists. Criticism—bounded only by the writer’s intelligence and imagination—is nonetheless incentivized by the same celebrity model. Even intelligence and imagination have limited appeal when a reader has 33-plus Beyonce reviews to sift through.”

Not turned off yet? Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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