November 2 marked the third annual Music Journalism Conference, Word Up!. Experts from a variety of areas of the journalism world presented a colourful spectrum of experience and invaluable advice for those seeking to work in the music industry. If any core component was to be taken away from the panelists’ guidance, it was that individualism is an attribute much yearned for in today’s music industry.
Session 1 – Selling Power
Opening with ‘Selling Power’, Inside/Out’s senior publicist Anna Mears stressed the importance of how “carving out a niche for yourself” and doing what you love as a publicist enables you to push and pedal the bands you feel require it. Being friendly and charming in her demeanour, her key advice regarding positive relationships with journalist peers was warmly received by students.
Session 2 – The Art of the Interview
The highly amicable atmosphere was merely heightened by following panel ‘All Talk – The Art Of The Interview’. The group of acclaimed panelists consisted of Anna Mears; Amazing Radio and BBC’s Ruth Barnes; The Guardian and Q Magazine journalist Dorian Lynskey; photographer for the Independent, Jean-Luc Brourard, and was hosted by Solent’s own Fiona Sturges. Lynskey’s advice ranged from how creativity can richly colour an interview, to fondly reminding students not to place stars on a pedestal – interviewee’s are human too (apart from Kanye, “the oddest person I’ve ever met without being diagnosed with a metal condition”). With everybody engrossed, the panel expressed the need for relaxation when interviewing – the sigh of relief from nervous students being tangible upon learning that just a natural conversation can result in a successful interview. With Russell Crowe and Weezer-gone-cult anecdotes, budding journalists were reassured that the hardest part is simply being yourself.
Session 3 – A Day in the Life Of… Terry Bezer
After recovering from his abrupt freeze at the beginning of the panel, ‘A Day In The Life Of” with Metal Hammer and Scuzz TV’s Terry Bezer provided an amusingly honest interactive insight into the world of journalism in rock and metal. The urgency for individual characters in the journalistic world was highly stressed, Bezer urging students that it’s never been easier to make an impact than it is for us now. Bearing in mind that “surely there’s more than just the shit they’re shoveling you?”, Bezer revealed the concepts behind his new ‘That’s Not Metal’ podcast. Assertive in his views but nonetheless honest, Bezer’s panel can be wholly summed up by his statement: “You can shovel shit or do what you believe in”. Amen to that.
Session 4 – Starting Over – How to Launch a New Media Platform
Word Up! was beautifully rounded off with the ‘Starting Over – How To Launch a New Media Platform’. Panelists Everett True, a highly regarded journalist starting his own book company, Rejected Unknown, DIY’s founder Emma Swann and Terry Bezer each perfectly embodied the DIY culture needed. The panel brimmed with invaluable advice regarding: the freedom of having your own press with the only monetary consideration being your free time; the beauty of individualism in journalism; and the chasing of good ideas – all undoubtedly leaving a lasting impression on those attending the conference.
Attentive questions paired with such constructively insightful answers will no doubt aid any blooming journalist or PR in building a sense of self-confidence. Word Up!’s highly skilled panelists have forever armed students with advice that should, and will be, regarded dearly.