Wednesday, 8 July 2015

8 music journalism life hacks

Life as a music journalist is unpredictable and chaotic, but it's also one of the most rewarding careers out there. When you're passionate about music, you'd give up all the hours in a day to sit in a grungy green room shooting the breeze with a band member you've only just met.

More often than not, you get caught up in the excitement and hysteria of an interview situation that you leave your common sense on the train and things can fall apart too easily. With that in mind, here's a few life hacks to help make your experience run smoother, whether you're a freelancer or just starting out.

1. Store PR contacts by name and the bands they represent.
If you arrive to a venue/press area just in time for an interview, it's unnecessarily difficult to trawl through your contacts hoping you'll remember who represents the band you're booked in with. Leave a section on your contacts to list who you need to contact, it'll save the heart-racing scrolling through your emails to find the confirmation from last month.

2. Keep a separate diary/calendar for release dates, gigs and festivals.
You can never guarantee you'll get a press pass to that Slipknot show, but it'd be helpful to write it down somewhere, right? There's no need to cloud your already busy schedule with notes reminding you of shows and when a certain album's released, so give them a separate domain that you check once a week to be sure you're on top of it all. So when you're wondering where all your friends are, you'll know they're at that Faith No More gig you completely forgot about.

3. Always have your mobile number in your email signature.
If not to save the incessant and unnecessary "what's your number?" exchanges with PRs, but to save making last-minute numerical errors when you're trying to type an email as you're stood outside a venue in the pouring down rain.

4.  If you know which band member you're interviewing, creep their social media.
Whether it's to break the ice by mentioning their cat by name or establishing idle chit-chat about what they had for lunch, it helps to show an interest in them personally as opposed to a purely professional interrogation about the latest record. Stand out from every other interview they've endured the entire day, give them a reason to smile, it's the little things that make all the difference.

5. Write/print out interview questions in case of a catastrophe/technological meltdown.
Sure, your iPhone may be trustworthy when you're sat in bed playing Fruit Ninja, but exactly how reliable is it when you're miles from home and you conveniently forgot your charger? If you can, write out your questions on paper beforehand, it's a small price to pay for the embarrassment of walking into an interview empty-handed.

6. Start recording interviews from the moment the PR comes to collect you.
There's nothing worse than getting home from an interview to find you can't remember who the hell you spoke to, regardless of whether they have a majestic moustache that you can picture in your mind whenever you hear their voice. Those introduction moments as you walk up to band members will be priceless when you come to transcribe or tag said guys on social media.

7. Make use of Skype.
At first, it may all seem glamorous, PRs calling you from LA or the back end of Australia to let you speak to band members, but what're you gonna do when they give you a number to call yourself? That's right, land yourself with an extortionate £30 phone bill to call La La Land for 15 minutes. Your job doesn't pay well enough to afford those rookie mistakes. Rent yourself a Skype number for extra security if needs be. 

8. Airplane mode is your friend.
Set it the moment you roll up to a venue. It's not worth the risk of interrupting a band member mid-flow, no matter how fucking awesome your Slayer ringtone may be.

Have you got any survival tips or tricks? Leave a comment below!

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