A music writer’s job is easily romanticized: Imagine getting paid to listen to music, that most universal, immediately resonant, and cool-conferring of art forms. Sure, modern writers spend just as much time clearing their inbox as they do panning for aural gold, but that’s a small price to pay for hearing new records ahead of time, and going to shows for free. Advance far enough, and they might even get to hang out with the artists themselves, hopefully in the pages of a ritzy publication.
Currently, however, a glut of digital publications struggle for access to artists who retain a greater degree of control over their narrative, with the help of an expanding field of publicists. Escalating traffic demands have pushed music publications toward a celebrity-driven model, catering to readers by covering artists who are already popular and focusing the rest of their coverage on others with the potential to become famous. Access-driven music journalism is increasingly repetitive and less revelatory than it ever has been; outlets run competitive interviews and profiles carved from the same diminished portion of time and the same homogenous pool of artists. Criticism—bounded only by the writer’s intelligence and imagination—is nonetheless incentivized by the same celebrity model. Even intelligence and imagination have limited appeal when a reader has 33-plus Beyonce reviews to sift through.
A national decline in journalism jobs has coincided with a mass shuttering of music magazines.
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/analysis/music-journalism-access.php