Andy Whitman: “An Open Letter to Prospective Music Critics”

Some wise words from Mr. Whitman:

You will earn more money by creatively mouthing the words “Would you like fries with that?” than you will as a music critic. If you are pursuing a career in music journalism thinking that you will actually have a career in music journalism, think again. You probably will not. You might get lucky, but the odds are heavily stacked against you. Approximately 8 people in the world have careers in music journalism. Usually they run their own magazines or websites. Usually they are poor, but they manage to get by. The rest of you will do something else to earn money. You might want to think about what that will be.


That said, I want to encourage you to write about music. But only if you love music, and if you love writing. If you can’t help yourself, then have at it. Music writing will be a source of great joy. Many days you will feel fulfilled, knowing that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. Occasionally you will have those ecstatic moments where you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you’ve nailed it, that you’ve said something as well as it can possibly be said. And most days it will just feel like work, and it will be hard, but do it anyway, because it’s what you’re supposed to do. If that’s you — if you recognize yourself in that description — then write about music. Write about what you love, and don’t worry about the compensation. You’ll probably be doing it at inconvenient times — when you’re already worn out from your so-called “real” job, when you’re tired, during evenings, on weekends — and you’ll never regret it.

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