Maybe you’re not quite ready for University. Maybe you’re not entirely sure what it is that you want to do with your life. Maybe you want to live your life a little before you get back to the books. Maybe you’re just not ready to make a commitment yet. It’s okay. Any self-respecting adult with a working memory will feel your pain.
There are a million reasons to take a gap year. For those looking to make an impact in the music industry, options are as broad as they are varied. From self-starter projects to flying high with professional bodies and earning your credits on the road; it’s easy to get lost and forget why you began down a particular path in the first place.
Below, we list some of the top ways to spend your gap year if you want to explore a career in music journalism before you head off to halls.
The most obvious and arguable, most straight forward option is to take up an internship. But it’s not always as simple as filling out an application form – there are hoops to jump throughand tests to take. Once you’ve earned your placement and a small desk next to the shredder, at least you won’t have to worry about niggly administrative tasks and sourcing the material for your next piece.
Unfortunately this road comes with its own set of salty-sweet problems, and many of them out of your control. Most music journalism internships take place in or around London. What’s that, your parents live in Aberdeen and you don’t have a place to crash? No worry, the magazine will put you up! No, we’re joking. They won’t put you up. In fact they probably won’t pay you enough to put yourself up, because even permanent contracts in the music industry are woefully underpaid.
If you’re still set on an internship, consider some of the following. It won’t be easy, but it’s a sure way of learning the industry inside out.
NME: The NME’s work experience programme was launched several years ago and has already made its way through large swathes of wannabe music journalists. Do not be duped into thinking this will make you overly special and land you a job immediately upon graduating – but it will secure you oodles of networking opportunities and contacts.
Local newspapers: Okay, so it’s not the coolest of endeavours, but interning for your local newspaper is cost effective and it will broaden your scope. Music journalists need to know how to write about the arts, but they also need to know how to investigate and work in a newsroom. Plus this way you get to stay somewhere a little more affordable than the Big Smoke.
Gaining experience online
If you’re worried about committing your time to an internship, or would prefer to start something you can continue throughout your studies – writing voluntarily for online publications is so close to your face you can feel its breath on your forehead.
Writing for music blogs and websites will allow you to dip your pen into multiple pots, widening your experience and growing your CV tenfold. Keep this up and by the end of your gap year, you may have established a name for yourself on the writing circuit – and not as someone who interned for a popular music magazine for a month or two.
The downside? You’ll have to reach out to and pitch editors all on your lonesome. And if your writing’s not up to scratch without guidance, there will no doubt be some harsh lessons to learn along the way.
Starting your own project
If like myself you value your alone time and have a strong, independent head on your shoulders; it could be starting your own project is your best option.
Don’t scoff at the idea of founding a career on your own project, or even turning it into a career in its own right. Plenty of music journalists and more recently, bloggers have begun their career as an independent venture: even Pitchfork’s founding editor Ryan Schreiber began his project in high school! Just like the Goonies, writers never say die: don’t give up, put your head down and work for all your might. Sometimes, that’s what it comes to.
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