Confessions Of A Music Journalist


“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s a really stupid thing to want to do” is both my favourite quote and my tormenter. It mocks every so-called music journalist’s profession, or hobby (or semi-professional hobby in my case) yet we’re still attached to it. Perhaps it’s a form of Stockholm syndrome.

Whenever I tell people about my “semi-professional hobby”, I’m generally greeted with one of two responses. The first being “Wow. That’s so cool! You must get on loads of guestlists and sent lots of stuff”. The second group, who understand that the freebies don’t occur until you’re the biggest fish in the ocean (and I’m just some algae in a pond), like to ask me “Why?”. Why do I write about music? Why would I want to?
To me, the answer seems obvious – I love music and I love writing so it’s natural to combine them but I, too, understand the scepticism. People either see entertainment journalists as hugely inferior to the war correspondents (because we are), or they see entertainment journalists as the only ones who are no longer being entertained.

I understand the latter argument. When I’ve been at my most productive writing about music, I’ve listened to it the least. When I’ve listened to the most, I’ve written about it the least (that’s evident in the last couple of weeks on Alt Scribe…).

It’s hard to find the balance between writing and listening. You need to listen enough to be able to write well, but if you listen too much, you never finish what you were writing (or at least I don’t). I’m just beginning to break the awful habit of only listening to a snippet of a new song on YouTube before deciding my opinion because if I spent any longer, any commentary on its premiere would be immediately outdated.

I can only speak for myself, of course. Many music journalists have found the balance. They can write about music, and listen to it. Others, I’m sure, share the same struggle of meaning to write about something with the best intentions but then becoming so absorbed in listening that the story becomes ‘old news’ while you’re still stuck on the repeat button.

I’m learning, and that’s why I’m glad you’re here for the ride, reading along with me.

So as I draw this to a close, you’re probably asking “What was the point of writing that?”. I ask myself the same question every time I put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard).

There wasn’t a point to this, but is there a point to dancing about architecture either? Perhaps not, but it’s not going to stop me anytime soon (even if the lure of live music and fantastic records are leading me to procrastinate…).

Amy Jo McLellan
Amy Jo McLellan is the editor of Alt Scribe. She started writing about music in 2010 and has been dancing about architecture ever since. She became a featured blogger for Buzznet after winning their 2011 ‘Summer of Buzz’ talent search. Amy knows far too much about her favourite bands and describes herself as a “professional fangirl”. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Kids In Glass Houses, Dawes. SPECIALIST SUBJECT: The rise and fall of 'Emo' 2006 - Now.

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