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Thomas J. West Music

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A Beginner's Guide to Becoming an Online Album Reviewer

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 8:00 AM

I’d like to thank Thomas J. West for sharing this information with his great readers. His blog is a great resource within the industry and there are a lot of great resources such as this piece on finding a music career for your personality type.

As an online album reviewer, you will be working with music websites, online blogs, newspapers (online and potentially in print), and even streaming services that may review albums at launch and during performances. While most websites will have their set reviewers, there is such a large rate of music being released that you will never lack for jobs. Yet the only way to get these jobs is to dive in.

As an online album reviewer, you will have to listen to new albums, checking blogs and social media for the hottest trends in music, and doing the research necessary to write the best reviews possible.

Here are a few things you need to know to break into this competitive space:

Prospects for Advancement

The ultimate goal for an online album reviewer is to get a salaried position on a prestigious blog or website so that you don’t need to worry about finding steady work. You should have a game plan in advance to get there, but you should also be flexible with that plan. Start by being well-informed on the changing face of the industry. You could start out reviewing single music pieces and move on to writing full reviews of albums and other more ambitious pieces. Once you make contacts and get your name out there, you just need to pick the right opportunities.

Education and Training

Many music reviewers will have experience or education in either the fields of English or Music, though a degree or previous experience is by no means a prerequisite for the job. Everyone has to start somewhere. Some of the most accomplished online album reviewers do not have music or journalism degrees. Many don’t even have a college education.

The best way to train yourself in the art of album reviewing is to simply practive and throw yourself into the world of music. An even more important aspect of your career is to find your voice and try out different ideas. It is ok to focus on a few genres of music. Practice writing reviews even if it is for free or for your own blog. This will be critical, as you need to write regularly and find a voice for yourself (and hopefully an audience).

Personality and Resilience

You may have to spend late nights at a show and stay up even later meeting deadlines. You need to be confident in your opinions yet also open-minded enough to accpt other ideas and perspectives. You will often find yourself questioning your opinions on why you dislike or like an album. You need to remember to not take yourself too seriously, especially as a beginner. Not allowing readers to move you off your center through either praise or insults is a good attribute that you will need to have.

However, taking into account constructive criticism is not a bad thing as it helps you reflect on aspects of your writing or process that you can change or modify. You will make mistakes when you first start out, and the chorus of detractors will be defeaning. Nevertheless, part of the job is figuring out whether your readership is just being reactionary or providing real constructive criticism.

Getting Started

Most online album reviewers will start working on the lowest rungs of the industry and more likely than not so will you. You may start by reviewing albums on your blog or for websites that accept volunteer reviewers. When you get enough visibility, you can pitch your ideas or apply for a position at more prestigious online publications (yet it might be a good idea to continue your blog). To be successful, you need to work on building your portfolio and reaching out to other professionals until you get to write publications that pay a strong wage. Once you get those opportunities, do you absolute best to make sure that you provide your best work.

Join Associations, Groups, and Unions

Networking with peers is a critical part of the online album reviewer’s job. You need to subscribe to groups and websites where you will find great advice on making it as an online album reviewer. Joining these groups and organizations is also one of the best ways to network and learn about industry trends. You can’t do it alone. Reviewing is often a lonely profession and you’ll appreciate the company online.

The online album reviewer’s job is an engaging one that stimulates creativity. When you combine a passion for the job with a strong personality, hard work, persistence and networking, you can become successful as an online music critic.

How are you preparing yourself for a career in online album reviewing? Do you have any other questions on how to become a successful critic? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

About the Author: Cassie Philips is a blogger and writer with interests ranging from online security to cultural trends. She has a passion for music, and will often spend her extra hours perusing and critiquing music old and new alike. You can find some of her work on Secure Thoughts.

Categories: Guest Authors, Recommendations, Miscellaneous

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