Freelance Music Journalist Role | Jenessa Williams 🎤
Demystify ✨ Inspire ✨ Educate ✨ Celebrate
What we talk about.
Jenessa wants to demystify music journalism — it is not a gang, it is not impenetrable, and not just in London. If your work is good, and you have a good attitude about it you are going to be just fine!
✨ Fandom (NME & Top of the Pops nostalgia + chatting Arctic Monkeys and McFly love)
✨ Tips to be a music journalist
✨ Cold pitching
✨ The joy of freelancing
✨ Inclusivity (race, binary and non-binary women)
✨ Writing for different publications
✨ How music writing works
🎧 LISTEN TO PODCAST HERE 🎧
Music Journalist (& many other hats)
✨PhD music student, with music journalism on the side
✨Also has a zine called PennyCress which celebrates creatives of colour based in North of England
✨She also guest presents podcast ‘Edit Radio’ on which she plays the best of new music in indie/alt/hip hop
Fun fact, Jenessa has never worked in house anywhere.
Check out her website here.
✨ Originally from Stevenage (outside of London)
✨ Went to University in Huddersfield (Yorkshire) to do Music Journalism
✨ Worked in events between undergrad and masters, then rolled straight into PhD
✨ PhD is looking at performativity and the way fans display emotions in relation to the artist that has been accused of sexual assault in the Me Too movement
✨ Easy to feel a course is a way to legitimise your work. Courses are great but not a necessity
✨ Journalism is having the initial ideas and knowing how to articulate it in a way that makes the person reading it want to investigate it further
✨ Read!! For example, read music magazines cover to cover.
✨ A lecturer at university said to Jenessa (paraphrasing) “people are much more interesting than the music”. Aka it is so much more interesting to get to the heart of the person that made it than falling into the trap of needing to describe how it sounds
✨ See music journalism as the forensics behind the song!
✨ Make your interviews feel like a conversation. This makes the artist feels like they are talking to a human and gives them the opportunity to talk about what they want to talk about
✨ Write about what you like (especially to start)
✨ Have a portfolio. Jenessa uses Contently (a free portfolio website). She includes this link on every cold pitch
✨ Twitter is a great place to keep an eye on the wider discourse in music journalism. Jenessa has found it to be somewhere to find callouts for content work too
✨ Do not be afraid to utilise what makes you you
✨ Charlotte Gunn — she used to be an editor at the NME and now has started TheFortyFive.com which is a new music writing site. They write about any kind of music and all the writers are women or non-binary. With an idea to nurture new writers and change narrative around music writing.
✨ Marianne Eloise — music writer (emo queen)
✨ Hannah Ewens (features editor at Vice) and author of ‘Fangirls: Scenes From Modern Music Culture’ (about teen fangirls being marginalised)
✨ Everyone at gal-dem (media publication, committed to telling the stories of women and non-binary people of colour)
✨ Teen Vogue — good to look at to see how good features are created
✨ Clarissa Brooks — We mention her in our chat. She shared her love of Hayley (Paramore) on Twitter and that she’d love to interview her…and Haley replied! A great example of tenacity!
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