Music Journalism Bootcamp

A comprehensive eight-week introductory evening course in music journalism, which aims to have you commissioned by the end of the course and will give you the tools to be a great writer, with a focus on independent music writing.

This course with The Journalism School is led by Jennifer Lucy Allan, former online editor at The Wire, and will cover feature and reviews writing, pitching and blagging, interview techniques and essentials including subbing, contacts building, and law for music journalism, all with a focus on independent music journalism.

Guest speakers will include Derek Walmsley (Editor, The Wire), Luke Turner (Co-founder, The Quietus) Phil Hebblethwaite (NME, ViceUK, The Quietus, former editor of The Stool Pigeon), and Ben Beaumont-Thomas (Music Editor, The Guardian)

No previous experience of journalism is needed, but you will need to be confident in writing and speaking in English.

The course will cover various styles of writing: music news, features, profiles, plus a masterclass on reviews writing, and the all-important ‘dark art’ of the pitch.

We will cover basic journalism law, subbing, editing, research and interview skills (including how to find and approach people for interview, and building contacts). All questions about how the industry works will be answered en route.

There will be opportunity for feedback and appraisal of your writing throughout the course, and all work and activities are aimed to be as close to real scenarios as possible, with Jennifer available for one to one feedback, guidance and contacts throughout the course.

There is no final exam, as the last piece of homework set will be to write a successful pitch to a publication or website of your choice. Success will be a real life commission!

Full course outline:

Week 1: Introduction to music journalism/Editing and subediting

We’ll give you some key dos and don’ts in music writing, cover the essentials of libel and copyright in music journalism, and have a look at specialist research skills – how to find anyone, how to use custom search skills, and how to use and access other resources.

Week 2: News writing and collecting

You’ll learn how to spot news stories and how to build contacts from majors to bedroom labels. You’ll use and abuse press releases from the music industry, and learn the inverted triangle of news, with a brief introduction to Freedom Of Information requests and how you can use them as a music writer.

Guest speaker: Phil Hebblethwaite, a journalist and editor who founded and ran The Stool Pigeon music newspaper between 2005-2013. He now works as a freelance journalist for The Guardian, NME, Vice and The Quietus. Phil will talk about investigative journalism and music writing, bringing your news copy to life, and how to transcend the confines of a press release.

Week 3: Feature writing

You’ll learn how to write in different styles, and think about being a brutal self-editor. We will take a close look at different types of introduction, before thinking about basic structures to work from, and how to organise your material.

Guest speaker: TBC

Week 4: Derek Walmsley’s Reviews masterclass

We will be looking at writing music reviews, with a focus on album and single. What makes a good review, and what do you need to be able to write one? Learn the mistakes that most writers make and how to avoid them, and find out what makes for rock solid music journalism, authoritative criticism and a style that zings of the page. We’ll also look at strategies that will grab a reader’s attention, and how to make your writing stand out from the pack.

Guest speaker: Derek Walmsley is Editor at The Wire, where he commissions and edits around 30,000 words of reviews per month. He has contributed to the magazine since 2004, and has also written for The Quietus and Resident Advisor. Derek will give an editor’s perspective on how to write album and live music reviews for print.

Week 5: Interview techniques

A lesson on different types of interviews, structuring your questions, staying on the ball and how to make the best of geographical limitations with your interviewee. We’ll learn how to deal with awkward interviewees and how to ask difficult questions via The Lou Reed Scenario, before looking at basic rules guidelines for editing transcripts and using quotes.

Week 6: Starting up an online magazine

A two hour class led by Luke Turner, co-founder of The Quietus, on running your own site. Luke will talk about best practice and why not to follow it; clickbait and why not to write it; word counts and why to ignore them; AdBlocker and why not to switch it on.

Music journalism online:
Guest speaker: Luke Turner is co-founder and co-editor of The Quietus, the award-winning UK online magazine devoted to music, film, literature and popular culture. He has also contributed to Q, The Guardian, BBC, NME, Stool Pigeon, Dazed & Confused, Monocle, Caught By River, among others.

Week 7: Writing a watertight pitch

We’ll look at some of the writing you’ve done over the course of the previous six weeks, a feature you’ve written, write a headline and standfirst, and use your subbing skills learned earlier in the course to mould it into a finished piece of writing, and get into some nuts and bolts of common mistakes, with a chance to share and discuss your writing.

This class will cover the most important aspect of music journalism: pitching. It will focus on how to pitch your ideas to editors, how to ensure your idea gets noticed, and how to hone initial ideas into successful pitches and published writing.

Guest speaker: Ben Beaumont-Thomas is Music Editor for The Guardian, and previously freelanced for Wired, Uncut and FHM, among others.

Week 8: How to be an editor

Guest speaker: Kate Hutchinson, Deputy Editor of the Guardian Guide.

Eight two-hour classes for only £250 if you book before 31 January 2018.

After that date, the price will be £295.

Classes run Monday evenings 7pm to 9pm at:

Martello Hall
137 Mare St
E8 3RH

Nearest stations: London Fields / Hackney Central / Bethnal Green.

Week 1 of the course will now occur on Tuesday 6 March at 7pm, rather than the preceding day.

This will not affect the remaining classes, which will be held on Mondays (except Easter Monday, 2 April), making the final dates:

6, 12, 19, 26 March
9, 16, 23, 30 April

For more information or to register your interest you can contact us via email, using the form below:

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