I’d start a blog and write about everything that excites and horrifies me about music.
I’d write something worth publishing every day.
I’d include visual elements that offer supporting evidence to each story.
I’d watch and write about at least one live band every week.
I’d rewrite what I wrote until the story was devoice of cliché, and I’d edit until only the story’s bare essentials remained.
I didn’t know any of this when I decided to start writing about music in June 2007. I didn’t try to find the answers; I didn’t ask questions. I just wrote about some shows that I got to see for free, and thought that was reward in itself.
I’ve changed, of course. I’m a better writer in that I’m less shit. I’m mindful of what I write. I finish a draft and immediately remove anything that I’d have written two years ago. This internal quality control requires discipline. It’s mentally exhausting. But the goal should always be to tell the story smartly and succinctly.
I’d establish my favourite Australian music sites and study their best writers closely.
I’d send the links to the best stories on my blog to the editors of my favourite sites every week.
I’d send the links to the best stories on my blog to my favourite published music writers every week.
I’d ignore street press and write for the web.
Street press is a siren’s call to the young Australian music writer. The allure of free tickets and the anti-glamour of writing for a small group of passionate music fans captures many. I have no regrets of writing for street press: its influence afforded me many excellent musical experiences, and many opportunities to improve my writing. Of course, there’s the thrill of seeing your name in print for the first time. (It’s still a buzz, two-plus years on.)
But I’d hope that there’s music writers younger than me who’ll shirk the notion that you’ve got to cut your teeth on street press and its fixed format. I won’t describe the benefits of writing about music on the web, as Andrew Ramadge already did that brilliantly.
You can write for FasterLouder, who’ll publish your words in front of an audience in exchange for thanks. I wouldn’t discourage any music writer from beginning their journey there, as you’re mostly free to approach a story however you please. (Whether this is advantageous is up to you.)
Or you can write for Mess+Noise, who’ll publish your words in front of an audience in exchange for money. The learning curve here for a street press- or FasterLouder-styled writer is steep, as I’ve discussed. They won’t publish just anything; the site’s reputation hinges on this ideal. But if you’re serious about this – becoming a music writer – the barrier to entry will inspire excellence in your work.