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Music Journalism Or “Music Criticism” Music Journalism…it’s classic! Music journalism got its start in the early 1800s with classical music. It was originally focused on the study, evaluation, discussion, and interpretation of music that had been composed in a score. Music was reported on either in specific music journals or by specialized reports for other publications. Notable early examples include James William Davison for The Times or Hector Berlioz (a composer) who also wrote criticism for the Paris press. “My, my old chap, this certainly rocks!” “Wow, that song was deep…” The Romantic Era and education growth, led to a wider appreciation of music. This in turn led to less specialization, and more individuals who were not composers became critics. Changing Tastes Although many magazines still employed a “classical music critic” well into the 1980s, the younger generation was simply not interested, and many of these critics were dropped from their magazines in the 1990s. This shift truly began in the early 1960s with the breakthrough of what is widely considered one of the best bands of all time… The Beatles Rock and Pop Like so many other changes The Beatles made to the music industry, they also changed the way that music was addressed and discussed. This meant that pop was no longer considered just a social phenomena, but was now being given credit as an art form. But does a music journalist do? Music journalism tends to focus on mainly reporting on the industry, reviewing events or concerts, and album/musician criticism. Music journalists, like any other, need to have their facts straight. Part of their time will be spent interviewing or attending events, but a majority of their time will be spent researching and writing. Pros and Cons On the best of days a music journalist is attending events, talking with the pros, getting a private tour of a studio, hanging out and chatting with a band about their music, and writing witty exposes about the music world. However, on the worst days, they will be out very late, with yet much to type up, and the honest but bad review of their last band/album looming over their head, a sensitive and angered musician writing a hate song about them. Critical Theory Besides just music theory, gender and race theory are also used to assess music, especially rock and pop. Academic articles about popular music are usually written by males, about males, and for males. This can cause some serious differences in the way we look at pop stars. For example… “TACKY! Selena Gomez strips down into underwear in pathetic attempt for attention and press” “DAMN! Justin Bieber flaunts muscle and abs in steamy new ‘What Do You Mean’ video” Everyone has an opinion… Pretty much everyone on the face of the planet loves music and has musical preferences. Writing about music requires your own opinion to come through a lot more than with some other forms of journalism. It’s inevitable that your opinion will rub some people the wrong way… But who cares? If you’re serious about music journalism, it requires a tough outer layer.