I have spent a lot of time working with aspiring journalists of all types, from news reporters to broadcast journalists to podcasters, and I’ve always stressed to them the importance of paying attention to what those in their respective fields are creating. Especially those who have made it professionally.
And especially if you are a writer.
In my role as instructor for College Media Network’s Music Journalism courses — which have now expanded to Basic and Advanced Courses — I’m always pushing my students to read as much music writing as possible, whether it be old or new.
Here are four places you can dig into some of that great music writing right now:
This UK-based site calls itself “the world’s most comprehensive online database of pop music writing, a unique resource unavailable elsewhere online” and that self-description is pretty accurate.
Their library contains over 40,000 primary source articles and some 600 audio interviews. The site works on a subscription basis, but the offer an awesome free library of articles that is filled with great reads. All you need to do is enter your email address to get a password to access the library.
This site, run by music lovers from Los Angeles, AD calls itself “an eclectic audio journal focused on daily reviews, interviews, features, podcasts and sessions.” That’s a great description from a team that has the skills to drop an accurate phrase.
Their taste is all over the map, and they feature a lot of soul, funk, world music and jazz. They often post playlists and exclusive cover versions from the artists they work with. They also do a weekly radio show on SIRIUS/XMU Channel 35.
Over 14 years, they have covered a huge spectrum of music and always surprise and delight with incisive writing and relentless quest for music that challenges and stimulates. Best of all, it’s all free. (They have launched a Patreon page, so if you love what they do, consider sending them a dollar or two each month to keep it rolling).
The Line of Best Fit
Another UK-based journal, LOBF takes its name from a Death Cab for Cutie song and claims to be “one of the world’s most trusted voices for music discovery, read by millions of fans every month, in search of their new favourite band.” (Yeah, that’s the proper English spelling of favorite.)
They do a great job on new music discovery, but I’m partial to their features section, which is packed with interesting and thoughtful profiles on artists ranging from Angel Olsen to Brittany Howard.
They do tons of album reviews, too, just the kind of thing aspiring music writers should be paying attention to.
Robert Christgau‘s Web Site
Widely known as “the Dean of American Rock Critics” — a title he bestowed upon himself, I’m pretty sure — Christgau doesn’t deal with many contemporary bands these days, but his music writing in the 1970s and most of the 1980s helped define a style of criticism that is still influential today.
On his site, you can find pretty much everything he’s written and published, including almost all of his essential book Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies and his Consumer Guide columns from New York’s seminal Village Voice newspaper, where he was chief music writer for decades.
If you want to get the real story of how the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin (or pretty much any act from the 70s) went down, this is place to learn. And remember, winners usually write history, so it’s great to check an alternate view of that vital musical decade.
Beware, the site itself looks very retro (think 2002 internet), but the content is all juicy.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.