By David Harfield, Editor of FanAppic.
If you’re passionate about music, then being a music journalist has to be one of the greatest jobs in the world, right? You get paid to review albums, get free backstage passes to gigs and festivals and hang out with musicians; well, yes, I suppose this is all true, but what they don’t tell you in ‘Almost Famous’ is that it can be a brutal industry to break into and once you’re in, you still have to prove yourself week in, week out or some other young buck will take your place. However, there are a few rules that you can follow that can give you the edge and as someone who has worked in the industry for over 5 years, please heed my advice!
Write for free, but not for long
We are, rather regrettably, living in the era of the internship and unless you have some pretty serious parental contacts then it’s doubtful that you are going to get a job as a staff writer at NME straight out of University. So, apply to every music magazine that’s worth its salt and prepare to undergo the humiliating two weeks of servitude as an office dogsbody. However, once this drudgery is complete (and it really won’t be that bad, I did mine at MOJO and the staff were all lovely!), you will have a shining beacon of authenticity to stamp on your CV, proving that you are an employable member of society. It is utterly pointless to continue working for no pay once you have built your CV up to a respectable level, unless you are getting something out of it (free tickets, albums, festival passes); start applying for paid roles as soon as you think that you’re ready for them.
Prepare for criticism
This may seem fairly obvious, but as a music critic’s job is criticise, it’s only fair that the general public get to criticise your work too and hell hath no fury like an emo fan scorned. Get ready for some vitriolic messages left in the ‘Comments’ section of your blog; I tend to take the Andy Warhol approach to hate mail, as in, “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”
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