Over the past few issues, we’ve covered different kinds of careers that you could pursue in the music industry. You could make music, discover the hot new artist of the year, brilliantly market a great new record or be the one that directly convinces customers to support good artists by purchasing their albums.
We complete this series by looking into the crazy world where artists truly come alive ~ where their music is played, where their life stories are written about, where they talk to their fans… We are talking about the media ~ radio, television, print and the Internet. It is where the buzz builds and it is where you can be if you have what it takes.
Music and The Media
The reason the media remains so important for music is because it is the platform that brings the artist into the homes of the music listeners. Over the years, the form of popular media has changed considerably. Print led the way and then radio followed. Then came the television revolution ~ the songs we loved now had visuals attached to them ~ and music television was born. The most recent development in this chain is the Internet, an even more personal, customisable medium that has made access to your favourite artist just one click away. As you can see, multiple forms of media mean many job opportunities. Here’s a look at each of the fields.
Before CDs, copy controlled or otherwise, before the iPod, before digital downloads, before podcasts and easy-to-access mp3s, there was only one place you got to hear your favourite songs: on the radio. The Top 40 countdowns, the request shows, hosts like Casey Kasem, Chris Tarrant and our very own Ameen Sayani...all of these were an essential part of the music fan’s experience.
Radio has changed tremendously over the years, but it remains popular because it’s just so easy to access. You can listen to it on your radio-friendly cell phone, your portable music player or a tiny transmitter, while doing something else at the same time ~ be it driving, sitting on a train, at work or while studying. As long as good music flows and the Radio Jockeys (RJs) are entertaining, radio has a captive audience across the country.
There are several job opportunities in radio:
- In the spotlight, as an RJ. Your job is to provide the entertainment and keep listeners interested enough to stay tuned to your station.
- Behind the scenes, as a producer. The producer is the one that does the research and puts the show together. He or she must choose the right mix of music, provide interesting information and trivia to the RJ for the links between songs, arrange for guests to be interviewed on air, and develop interesting concepts for shows and contests to keep the listeners engaged.
It may be called ‘the idiot box’ but you have to admit, as a music fan, nothing compares to that thrill of switching on the television and catching that brand new video from your favourite artist, on air for the first time. It can even take you on a great nostalgia trip when videos that you forgot ever existed play one after the other on that Classics special.
Says Keertan Adyanthaya, Vice President and General Manager, VH1 India, “The biggest misconception about working in music television is that it is all just a lot of fun! [Laughs] It’s not, it is a lot of hard work and the biggest challenge I would say is to stay focused on the business end of it.” So what kind of person makes for a good music television employee? Says Adyanthaya, “I look for someone who is creative in their approach to how they work, someone who is aggressive and doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer, someone who negotiates hard and goes after the goal, come what may.”
These are the technical qualifications you might be required to have:
- Ideally, a college education
- For marketing and ad sales, someone who has experience
- For content generators, like in the programming department for example, a knowledge of music and an almost encyclopaedic understanding of music. Also, being open to and aware of different genres of music is important.
Before the Internet came along, the only way to read interviews by your favourite artists and collect those rare pictures was in print. Some fans still remember saving up money to buy the latest issue of a music magazine that featured their idols, and there’s nothing quite like pulling out that giant music poster and placing it on your bedroom wall. Working as a music journalist at a magazine or a daily publication can be an exciting job. Here’s what you need to know:
Sunand Bhojani, editor/publisher of The Record, has interacted with people from the music industry and journalists over the years and here he outlines the qualities of a good music journalist:
- Enthusiastic and open to exploring music across genres
If you think only one style of music rules and everything else sucks, keep your opinion to yourself. No one is going to pay you to be a music snob on their pages. Says Shridevi Keshavan, music correspondent and copy editor, DNA, “You need to know your music and you have to listen to a lot more music than you normally would as a lay person. Whether it’s Bollywood, pop, electronica or any other form, you have to be open to listening to it, you cannot just stick to one form. Basically, you need to have a passion for music. Money is really not something you have to look at when you start off. You need to listen to a lot of music, and get an edge as far as reviews go. The scope for music journalism here is not vast at the moment but it is growing.”
- Good communication skills
These are essential for conducting good interviews. Don’t worry if you’re not born with these. You can develop an effective communication skill set with practice but you have to be willing to learn.
You can read the rest of our special feature Careers In Music: The Media in the April 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.
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