Before digitisation changed the whole business model of the music industry, music journalists were thought to be the ‘gatekeepers’ between musicians and their fans. Their words had weight and importance. Artists needed to get reviews, interviews, and column inches to promote their music and connect with their fanbase.
When YouTube and other online music platforms appeared and everything went digital, the popularity and status of music journalism within the industry was diminished. With this massive digital shift, people gained access to music nearly anytime, anywhere, and there was much talk of the struggle and agony of music journalism. But how are things in recent years? Is music journalism dead indeed or is it simply going through a dramatic change?
Music Journalism Does Not Struggle
AWAL published an article about this specific matter in 2018, giving the reader a solid description of the state of music journalism. They argue that this particular profession is not dead at all, but simply going through a transformation, shifting away from its printed form to completely digital. Another article by The Guardian from the same year went even further, claiming that music journalism is healthier than ever and seeing no crisis at all. Yet a steady decline is discernible, epitomised by the closure of London-based New Musical Express (NME) in 2018, one of Britain’s most significant music magazines since its founding in 1952.
Clearly, music journalism has seen better days, but is it facing extinction? There are hardships and issues, of course. Print journalism must compete with videos, blogs, and social media in this new era, but there is still a demand for professional journalism too, only its form has changed. “Dead tree media” has been struggling, but online journalism is thriving.
Music Journalism as a Career Option
What options do young adults who intend to find employment in the industry have? Well, due to Covid-19, digital media has become more relevant than ever before, and as already mentioned, online magazines that are also present on social media platforms are still likely to reach and develop a solid readership over time. When such publications offer internships, for instance, this can easily open the door to certain careers. Of course, in the post-Covid era, the live music industry will have a strong comeback. I suspect that if and when that happens, additional opportunities for music journalists will emerge.
We are not in a pleasant situation with Covid. It is damaging the industry and music journalism has not escaped this. However, I strongly believe that the digital age, and now Covid, have not fatally injured music journalism, but simply pushed it in a new direction. All we need is the courage to adapt.