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Music Journalist: Education Requirements and Career Information

A career as a music journalist generally requires a four-year degree. Learn about education, training and job responsibilities to see if this is the right career for you.

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A music journalist covers an assortment of musical news stories, from band interviews to concert reviews. Music journalists must have relevant work experience and a college degree. The ability to meet deadlines, writing skill and a willingness to travel are important qualities to have in this competitive field.

Essential Information

Journalists, also called reporters, are generally responsible for gathering information and writing news stories. Music journalists may cover the local or national music scene, or they may specialize in writing about a specific musical genre.

Required Education Bachelor's degree preferred
Projected Growth (2014-2024)* -8% (all reporters and correspondents)
Median Salary (2015)* $36,360 (all reporters and correspondents)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Requirements for Music Journalists

The National Association for Music Education reports that aspiring music journalists may want to consider majoring in journalism, not music (www.menc.org). A 4-year degree in communications or journalism is preferred by most organizations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported (www.bls.gov). In some cases, news organizations hire candidates that have degrees in other fields.

Courses

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) explained that communications majors typically study writing techniques and journalism ethics (www.spj.org). The BLS emphasized that general computer literacy is critical for journalists, and that journalism students who plan to publish their work online should learn to use appropriate computer software. Courses in social sciences like psychology and economics are helpful.

Additionally, aspiring music journalists can enroll in specialized music journalism courses. The courses may cover topics like local music history, genre-specific music writing or music-industry trends, along with writing scripts, interviewing subjects and editing audio recordings.

Training

Both the BLS and the SPJ emphasize the importance of practical experience for aspiring journalists, including music journalists. Future music journalists can work for a college newspaper or a community news organization. Journalism students can also work for their universities' television or radio stations. Additionally, many news organizations offer internships and fellowships can be found in journalism organizations. Another source of journalism experience is part-time freelance work.

Music Journalism Career Information

The BLS expected employment for correspondents and reporters to decline by 8% between 2014 and 2024, and it anticipated tough competition for openings at nationally recognized news publications and broadcast networks. As of May 2015, the median annual wage for workers employed as correspondents and reporters was $36,360, stated the BLS.

Job Duties

Journalists, or reporters, are generally tasked with information gathering for news organizations, the BLS reported. They are responsible for observing and recording newsworthy events, interviewing subjects and conducting background research. They also write stories, usually in electronic format, and they may provide commentary. For a music journalist, specific tasks could involve reviewing concerts and albums, interviewing musicians and analyzing music industry trends.

Work Environment

Reporters for daily newspapers may work in the late afternoon and evening against deadlines, while reporters who work for weekly or monthly publications have schedules that are more flexible. In general, journalists can expect to work irregular hours, and travel may be required. Music journalists may need to cover events, such as concerts, that occur late at night.

In sum, having a degree in communications, journalism, or a related major is essential to being a music journalist. They must gain experience, adjust their schedule as needed, and be prepared to do a good amount of traveling and interpersonal work.

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