Breaking Into the World of Music Journalism By C.M. Saunders

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There are two things that have thus far dominated my life. Rock music and writing. I thought long and hard about how to combine my twin obsessions and make them profitable, and the obvious answer was to be a music journalist.

This is a notoriously fickle area where various forms of media collide, and is rife with cliques and “old-pals” acts. I had no experience, no contacts, and no clue, so how could I break into the sacred circle?

At the time I lived in Southampton, a medium-sized city on the south coast of England, which benefits from a London ‘overspill’ of touring bands and artists. There is no shortage of gigs to attend, so I started frequenting the local rock clubs. I would gain free entry by claiming to be a journalist, turn up early, watch the bands sound-check, and try to grab interviews with anyone I could. Most of the bands were local upstarts and more than eager to spend a few minutes with me. I reviewed their shows, listened to their demos, and put together profiles that I sent to genre magazines and websites, avoiding the mainstream ones which, frankly, aren’t interested in the random scribblings of a novice. I rarely got paid at that stage, but was simply building a name.

Suddenly, something amazing happened. One of the bands I was friendly with, Army of Freshmen, started receiving widespread acclaim and landed spots on several tours as a support act for much larger bands. I got to know their management and PR people, who were more than happy to set me up with interviews with other clients. Within a year I was regularly being sent all over the country at the behest of a variety of established magazines and getting paid for my work, as well as receiving lots of perks like expense accounts and free merchandise from the bands. Furthermore, my contact list is growing all the time!

C.M. Saunders began writing in 1997. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, ezines and anthologies, including Big Cheese, New Welsh Review, Rock Sounds & Record Collector. His latest novella Dead of Night is available now on Damnation Books.

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