The other day I took a look around some of the labels I work with and I had a bit of an epiphany. What I realized was that a huge chunk of the label’s staff, like over 30%, got their start in music journalism. Then I looked at a lot of the bands who I see succeeding and it was a similar story. Even people in major bands like Trevor Strnad make a point of engaging with their communities. It’s a really tricky thing to be sure and can be a little bit overwhelming to start, but music journalism comes with a plethora of advantages and can teach you a hell of a lot. Not only will it give you better connections, but it also makes you hip to cool things going on in the scene, makes you a better writer, and allows you to build conversations.
4. Journalism Gives You Connections
If you are reaching out to someone out of the blue just to find out about their label or business, then the odds are they aren’t going to respond to you right away. After all – what is the motivation? Why should they give valuable information to some random dude on the internet? HOWEVER, if you reach out because you are trying to learn about them and give them attention then people are more likely to respond .remember that the fundamental nature of reality means that people are constantly looking for attention. If you are willing to give someone attention and notoriety then they will reply. This is perhaps the single best way to befriend people in the music scene. After all – you are immediately coming in with a cool and clear value add which is how you start any relationship.
3. It Makes You Hip To What’s Happening
This has been a really big one for me. I have written a review every day since I was about 15 years old. I started writing about music when I was 14. What this means is that I am listening to everything and getting a clear idea of what is going well and what is about to break. I think that if people start to operate with this in mind then they are only going to grow. On some fundamental level if you want to expand your music career you need to know what’s popular and ideally why it is popular. Making a point of covering a ton of new music will mean you stay plugged in and can have relevant conversations. If people see you are someone who is very aware of the current zeitgeist then that means more folks are going to engage with you and take you seriously.
2. Practicing Writing… Makes You A Better Writer
I know this sounds crazy – but being able to regularly practice writing through music journalism is only going to help you. Shocking I know. Being a good writer is CRUCIAL if you are trying to raise your profile in the music industry. People only want to respond to clearly written emails and only want to work with people who are articulate. If your emails don’t make sense or are rambling or generally suffering then shit, there isn’t really a point to it after all, is there? Being a good writer is essential to getting taken seriously. Some of us didn’t go to college, we need to make do in other ways. From what I can tell the best way to thus make do is to just write, a lot. Music journalism lets you do this whilst growing your career.
1. It Builds Conversations
This is what it all leads too. Not only is doing music journalism going to open doors that would never have previously been opened, but it also starts to build conversations. This can take a variety of formats, from being left waiting backstage with label staff to getting into a cool set of emails with someone interesting. There are countless connections in my life that I was able to cultivate just by writing at scale for nearly ten years. This is how you make sure that people feel included and involved. You get to become a part of something greater than yourself and learn about the power of underground music. People take an interest if you do it well, and if things are going well – well shit, then maybe you could wind up like those of us who parlayed a career in music journalism into something far greater.
Read Matt’s other Bacon Bloody Bacon blogs here:
Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.
For more information: