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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
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
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
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
But who cares? If you’re serious
about music journalism, it
requires a tough outer layer.