The remaining journalists out there who are truly contributing to the legacy of music media as a time honored tradition are among the most important of all the gatekeepers in music. They’ve honed a craft having been around the block a time or two. They know how to craft a solid interview, write a great story, and they are the ones who land the interviews with A Listers. They have relationships with management, publicists, labels, and often the artists themselves, granting them that privilege.
The frontier of the indie movement has spawned a whole new breed of journos that provide visibility for emerging artists in a much wider range of formats. It’s not that hard to find coverage these days — if the music warrants it. Even if the music doesn’t warrant an interview or big media placement, artists shouldn’t find it too difficult to find coverage for their projects even if it isn’t on the cover of The Rolling Stone.
With the help of media, emerging artists can build the foundation of a brand name. The role of media is not about shouting from the rooftops. It is about creating a dwelling of sorts that begins with a solid foundation of validation. If the music is good walls and a roof are added by the next level of journos interested in the project. When the music is really good, doors and windows are added as a property becomes more significant on music’s Main Street. Sometimes media creates a virtual mansion around a project providing the artist some valuable real estate along the sonic landscape.
The inexperienced journos who are just embarking on this journey could do a great service to music overall by differentiating themselves from every other outlet, writing what is real.
This means writing truthfully about the music — the good, the bad, the ugly. The good lives on forever. The bad and the ugly fade away if the artist learns from the experience.
It means giving the writing some teeth providing content readers will enjoy, and artists can use in future endeavors.
Journos need to do a lot of research before putting content out into the ether, for it is the media who validate music, qualifying and quantifying any given work. It is music media who brand the artist — a huge responsibility when you think about it.
If the music isn’t really that good, journos have an obligation to consumers, the industry, and the artists to accentuate the positive and punctuate the negative. By this, we certainly shouldn’t bludgeon substandard work, but pointing out areas that need improvement is more helpful than not.
A great place to research and study the craft of music journalism if you don’t have a formal education in the field is http://allmusic.com. A veritable library of music history can be found here. The journos didn’t always say nice things, they said the right thing.