CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 08, 2015
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How to Become a Music Critic in the US

Music criticism is an aesthetic activity that involves evaluating and judging a musical composition or performance. Music critics listen to a song and use their superb writing skills to express their opinions on the song. If you have a passion for music, you could do more than just listen to your favorite jams. You could become a music critic!

What Do Music Critics Do?

  • Write and publish critiques on various songs – their aim is to give a detailed assessment of their listening experience
  • Report on new music
  • Interview composers and singers
  • Attend music concerts and other musical performances
  • Recommend music to listeners

It is essential to note that a music critic can choose to specialize in one or more music genres.

Work Environment

Music criticism is not typically a full-time job. As such, many critics have the ability to set their own work schedules. Nonetheless, those who work for large media houses have regular 9 to 5, Monday to Friday jobs.

Although music critics craft their critiques in an office environment, they often travel to attend musical performances and interview musicians.

Salary

The following table highlights the top-paying states for music critics:

City

Average Annual Wage

Washington, DC

$70,376

New York – Manhattan, NY

$65,705

Chicago, IL

$62,668

New York, NY

$61,747

Illinois, IL

$50,806

Source: Salary Expert

Entry Requirements

Music critics are essentially journalists. Although you can set your foot on this profession without a college education, it is advisable to pursue at least an associate degree in journalism, English or communications. This will improve your grasp of grammar and style, and greatly enhance your ability to communicate your feelings in a clear and understandable manner.

A few academic institutions also offer courses in music criticism, which you can pursue to make yourself a stand-out candidate for this job. These institutions include:

Important Qualities

The following competencies are crucial to the competence of a music critic:

  • Excellent active listening skills
  • Superior writing skills
  • The ability to meet tight deadlines
  • Vast music knowledge
  • An ear for good music
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Good interviewing skills
  • The ability to write without being impartial
  • Good artistic skills

Career Advancement

After getting hired, you should focus on enhancing your music knowledge. You can do this by pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in:

  • Music history
  • Music education
  • Music composition

And if you want to interact with other critics and access other professional development resources, you should join the Music Critics Association of North America.

Job Opportunities

Although many music critics work on a freelance basis, you can find full-time jobs in:

  • Media houses
  • Publishers of music journals
  • Music foundations

After gaining vast music criticism experience and building a solid reputation, you can be hired as a music editor. This role involves assigning and reviewing the work of music critics. Many experienced critics also run successful music criticism blogs or websites.

In general, the BLS reports aspiring journalists can expect to face competition for jobs through 2022. To succeed as a music critic, focus on growing your social media presence and maintaining a regularly-updated blog. Critics with a strong professional reputation are more likely to attract readers and are, therefore, more desirable to employers.

Listened to a song lately and liked it? By becoming a music critic, you can be able to tell the world about it!

 

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