Music Journalism


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week 4 of music journalism class

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Music Journalism

  1. 1. Music Journalism Week 4: Music Journalists: and Public Relations
  2. 2. Diminishing power of music journalism <ul><li>Hirsch - 1970s - critics = ‘autonomous gatekeepers’ and ‘opinion leaders’ </li></ul><ul><li>Fenster - 2002 - ‘consumer’s guides, opinion leaders and employees’ </li></ul><ul><li>Critics as (cultural) intermediaries: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ between selected musicians and an equally select part of the public’ (Frith) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Between advertisers and audiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Between music corporations & artists (Du Gay) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bourdieu sees diminished autonomy as a result of ‘twin markets of readers and advertisers’ </li></ul>
  3. 3. Reminder: Organisation of music magazines <ul><li>Importance of a number of factors/ events in the management and production of music magazines. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Management structure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Generally small number of full-time journalistic staff </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mainly casual creative workforce </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Operation around deadlines (various) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Production cycles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Editorial meetings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Layout of offices - inclusion and exclusion </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Organisation of music magazines : ‘the suits’ <ul><li>‘ the executives’ ‘the suits’ - publishing managers who direct policy across a range of titles, e.g. EMAP Performance, IPC Ignite </li></ul><ul><li>They set the ‘premises and assumptions present in the working environment’ (Stratton) </li></ul><ul><li>Routinisation of journalistic process - desk based. </li></ul><ul><li>Aims of executives are to maintain audience and advertising base. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Organisation of music magazines : editors in chief <ul><li>Operate across a number of similar titles within the publishing group </li></ul><ul><li>Link between the suits and and the journalists </li></ul><ul><li>Often former editors. </li></ul><ul><li>Highly involved in appointment of editors. </li></ul><ul><li>Serve publishers interests rather than those of journalists. </li></ul><ul><li>Implement cost-cutting, spatial and restructuring measures. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Organisation of music magazines : editors <ul><li>Overview of style, journalistic content of one publication. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ the power and autonomy of editors is ‘highly conditional’ (Forde) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Organisation of music magazines : journalists <ul><li>80% of UK journalists employed on a freelance basis (Franklin, 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Shifts power towards management </li></ul><ul><li>‘ if you want to pay your rent….get as much into the paper as you can’ (Steve Sutherland) </li></ul><ul><li>IPC freelancers sign over copyright to them. </li></ul><ul><li>Disputes over additional use of work - e.g. internet. </li></ul><ul><li>365 Corporation - ‘indemnity for libel costs’ </li></ul>
  8. 8. Organisation of music magazines : journalists <ul><li>The outcomes of this: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Journalists and editors become more cautious </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of community / teamwork removed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuality becomes a problem rather than a strength. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increasing imposition of ‘house styles’ by editors - Q, Melody Maker, NME, Smash Hits, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Copy substantially re-edited to fit format. </li></ul><ul><li>Tensions among the journalists - many moved elsewhere. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Organisation of music magazines : journalists <ul><li>“ A couple of years back, rock writing underwent a contraction so immense that the entire music press (and ultimately, the way the music we write about is perceived is consumed) had to change to accommodate it….no one’s interested in theory, no one’s bothered about ideas - basically, no one cares what we think. Why should they? It’s only rock’n’roll, boys Personally, I can’t agree - then, fuck, I’m a music critic. I don’t have to buy the bloody paper.” Taylor Parkes, Melody Maker (1994) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Organisation of music magazines : journalists <ul><li>Journalists also have considerably less access to artists/ musicians than in the past. </li></ul><ul><li>Conditions attached to interviews / copy approval. </li></ul><ul><li>Access important to the style of writing </li></ul><ul><li>Control over journalists comes from both management of magazine publishers and the recording industry </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists are employees but also involved in circulating new texts for record industry </li></ul>
  11. 11. Organisation of music magazines : journalists <ul><li>How impartial are music journalists? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choice of journalist may depend on how they are likely to respond to story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anecdotal evidence of power of advertisers - Q / ‘Who The Hell. . .’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Journalists often do not make much money - reliant on perks: tickets, trips, etc - lose partiality as a result </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independence of journalists has a lot to do with autonomy of the publishers. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Where do the different magazines fit? <ul><li>Bourdieu - notion of ‘ cultural fields’ -have own rules, capital and admission criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Music journalism is a weak cultural field - low admission threshold </li></ul><ul><li>Heteronomous and Autonomous Poles in the production of music magazines </li></ul><ul><li>The field of music journalism is overpopulated with cultural intermediaries. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Heteronomous Pole <ul><li>This would be mainstream magazines, e.g. those produced by EMAP and IPC. </li></ul><ul><li>Mass market, weak links between producers and consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Weak links between journalists and music producers </li></ul><ul><li>Editorial process framed by economics - links with advertisers and music industries </li></ul><ul><li>Advertising sold to wide range of companies all with similar worldview to the publishers </li></ul>
  14. 14. Autonomous Pole <ul><li>This would be independently published magazines, fanzines, web sites, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Readers are primarily peers and other critics </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists are often closely linked with the featured musicians. </li></ul><ul><li>Editorial process framed by cultural field - weak links with industry and advertisers </li></ul><ul><li>Limited range of advertisers with less power/ influence over editorial - but similar worldview. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Changing role of journalists <ul><li>Previously oppositional </li></ul><ul><li>Now operate in situation where there are systematic links between press and music industries </li></ul><ul><li>Shared outlooks </li></ul><ul><li>Dilution of the role of journalists as mediators - many others now involved </li></ul><ul><li>On a practical level - how do they interact with press officers? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Publicists - the job <ul><li>Music PR is organised through in-house record company press offices and independent companies who supply services to labels and acts of all sizes. </li></ul><ul><li>Diminishing number of full-time record company based positions, more independents/ freelancers. </li></ul><ul><li>Independent PR companies can charge up to £5000 per month retainer to look after major artists. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Publicists - responsibilities <ul><li>Multi-faceted job - different on a daily/ weekly basis depending on the artists involved: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Generating news stories for dailies / press releases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protecting against negative stories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Calls to/ meetings with journalists and clients </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organising interviews - in person, by phone, press conferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organising publicity shots -liaison with photographers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attending gigs / accompanying journalists to see bands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organising guest lists, ticket requests, setting up competitions, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Publicists - employer <ul><li>Publicists can be employed at various stages by any of the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Record companies - particularly small and medium sized ones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Music Publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Artist Managers / Artists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concert / Festival Promoters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry organisations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Publicists can be retained or paid on a month-by-month basis </li></ul><ul><li>Often have a background in journalism or other forms of promotion </li></ul>
  19. 19. Publicists - relationship with journalists <ul><li>Handling exclusives - who gets what and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Placing stories - competing newspapers, magazines. </li></ul><ul><li>Much tighter control over artists - limited access to major acts. </li></ul><ul><li>Publicists are able to exploit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Their own power - strong client base helps procure more editorial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The need of the magazines/ newspapers to attract big name interviews, reviews, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Summary <ul><li>External pressures on music journalists have declined their autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Publishing industry has completely reoragnised. </li></ul><ul><li>More outlets for music journalism - but more compromises involved at heteronomous pole. </li></ul><ul><li>Explanations for changing nature of music journalism. </li></ul>