Become a music journalist (part two)

Music magazines

Last updated: 05 February 2009

If nobody seems willing to publish you at first, get on and do it yourself. Weblogs a great way to start. They're easy to set up and add to, and can be a creative outlet for whatever you want - from the minutiae of your life to thoughts and critiques on world events and cultural happenings.

While there are millions of blogs on the web, the best ones take on a life of their own and attract legions of dedicated readers, turning the authors into micro-celebrities. It's hard to make money from weblogs through conventional means, but they're extremely effective if viewed as a stepping stone to a job.

Joe Goodden is the Cardiff-based producer of this website. Like Noel, he worked on Gair Rhydd as music editor, and later studied for a postgraduate journalism diploma at Cardiff University.

"There are many different ways into journalism," says Joe. "Doing a PTC (Periodicals Training Council) or NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) accredited course might not be for everyone - the costs can be prohibitive, for a start. But the training is always robust, and well-respected courses open doors. They can help you stand out from the legions of graduates all chasing after the same jobs."

The most valuable assets are a decent portfolio of articles, a bit of initiative and the ability to write clearly and well. A bit of luck and patience can help too.

Joe Goodden, BBC Wales

"Of course, that's just one way in," he says. "The most valuable assets are a decent portfolio of articles - which you can easily do by self-publishing online or by badgering for some well-placed work experience - a bit of initiative, and the ability to write clearly and well. Sadly, though, in Wales there simply aren't huge numbers of employers wanting music writers, so a bit of luck and patience can help too."

Getting published can be simple. "You don't need to send your CV to someone who compiles the reviews for the local paper," says Noel. "It doesn't have any bearing on your ability to write about music. I could also suggest talking to people in bands and promoters when you go out, but that's really up to you. I've never been one for going up to people I've never met before and starting conversation."

If you're going to send unsolicited work, double and treble check it before you do so. "It's often surprising how many people submit articles that have poor grammar or unfinished sentences, or they don't understand what an editor might want," says Joe. "It's handing over an easy reason to have your work rejected, and it can be hard to get a second chance."

Although not everyone has an 'almost famous' experience, the music industry is still a hive of activity where reputations are born and destroyed. Knowing when to be over-enthusiastic can help you get started, and as a writer it is your views that count.

It's good to listen to criticism, but in an often cynical industry don't be swayed by everything you read and hear. As Noel says, "Anyone who says people who don't play music themselves shouldn't be allowed to write about it, or words to that effect, are idiots and should be hit with sticks".


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