If you have a passion for music and enjoy writing, then a degree in Music Journalism could be the course for you. Spending three years at the University of Chester both listening to, and writing about music, will provide a fantastic opportunity for you to further develop your love affair with music and the written word, whilst also honing your skills in combining the two.
The digital revolution has completely changed the way we make, distribute, consume and critique music. It is, therefore, a fascinating time to be entering the industry. Despite these changes, working as a music journalist continues to be the greatest backstage pass to the best gigs, the biggest festivals, and the most spectacular club nights on the planet.
In this blog, to give you a real flavour of what to expect from the Music Journalism course, you can find out more about the latest news and events from this course, the Department of Media and the Warrington Campus. If, after reading this blog, you’re keen to find out more, you can by visiting us. For those of you who have already applied and received an offer, don’t forget to book yourself onto one of our forthcoming Applicant Days, where you’ll have the opportunity to see for yourself what makes this course so special.
It’s perhaps odd to think about ex-students of Chester before you have even become one! However, it’s worth thinking - even at this early stage - about employability and what your time studying at Chester might lead to.
One alumnus (ex-student) of Chester, John Longbottom, returned to the Warrington Campus in January to talk about his own career, and his life after leaving the University. John is now the News and Online Editor of the rock magazine Kerrang! He completely revamped their online presence, working as the magazine's first ever online Editor. The magazine went from 38,000 visitors a month to over 8 million - in the first month! John even won an award for his endeavours.
It is hugely inspirational, and helpful, for the current Music Journalism students to hear from past students, and to find out how they made the switch from campus to newsroom. John offered real insight into the British music press, especially digital journalism, and it all started at the University of Chester. John first developed these interests when completing his dissertation on the switch from print to digital.
Meet the Programme Leader
If you come along to one of the upcoming Open Days or Applicant Days, you will no doubt hear from the Programme Leader for Music Journalism, Simon A. Morrison. Simon has worked within the music industry for the last 20 years. Author of the book 'Discombobulated –Dispatches From The Wrong Side' - a collection of columns for DJ Magazine, published in the UK and US by Headpress - Simon has reported on the nightclub scene everywhere from Beijing to Kosovo. He has also produced and presented TV and radio, and for two summers edited the Ministry of Sound’s Ibiza magazine.
Working in journalism, PR and now academia, music has underpinned everything Simon has done and it remains a passion he is keen to share with new students, whatever their musical interests.
Bar and Club Twenty10
Although the Music Journalism programme has ventured off-campus for music reviews, the Warrington Campus boasts its very own bar, nightclub and gig venue all rolled into one – Bar and Club Twenty10. As most first years live on campus, this understandably becomes an important hub for social engagement, a place where everyone knows your name. Of course, it’s especially helpful for the Music Journalism students, who can use gigs at Bar and Club Twenty10 to sharpen their critical skills the moment they set foot on campus. In fact, this year their first assignment was a review on UK Garage act The Artful Dodger, who played at the club during Induction Week.
This year already there have been some great events, including club nights, DJ sets, and live music events hosted by SoundShed, featuring artists such as Nicola Bear. You can keep up-to-date with the latest events from Bar and Club Twenty10 via their Twitter feed - @barclubTwenty10.
The Cat Radio
Of course, radio is a key aspect of the music media, and the Warrington Campus has its own dedicated radio station, broadcasting both on FM across the campus, and online. Music Journalism students are able to contribute to the station, either through hosting shows, or contributing to existing shows. Listen to The Cat Radio via thecatradio.co.uk. Who knows, we might have the next big radio talent in our midst?
If you decide to come to the University of Chester, you may want to look up a few titles that have come from the programme itself.
Programme Leader Simon A. Morrison contributed the chapter 'DJ-Driven Literature: A Linguistic Remix' on the role and function of DJs in literature for the 2013 Bloomsbury book 'DJ Cultures in the Mix'. He has also contributed to the 2015 Bloomsbury title ‘How to Write about Music’, which will be a key text for anyone joining the Music Journalism programme, with chapters covering album reviews, live reviews, blogs, interviews and much more.
Simon also recently contributed to a special edition of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music in which he looked purely at music journalism. His paper was entitled ‘Surely people who go clubbing don’t read – Dispatches from the Dancefloor and Clubland in Print’.
Out on Tour
In the last week before the Christmas holidays, the programme discovered that the band Starsailor were to perform an impromptu acoustic set at the Warrington record store, Lizard Inc. For the module Reviewing Live and Recorded Music, the cohort went on tour, taking this very practical module out of the classroom and on the road, getting up close to live music and practicing the art of music reviewing within a live setting.
It proved to be a great experience, and was very useful for current students. More road trips will follow, taking in gigs at Manchester and Liverpool. Remember, as a student of Chester, both these powerhouses of music culture (from The Beatles to The Stone Roses) are only a half hour journey from the Warrington Campus.
Your name in print
Our current first years have proved an extremely industrious bunch. We already have in the range of 10 to 12 media titles who have expressed an interest in carrying their reviews, and of course part of the glamour of working as a music journalist – beyond the free passes and complimentary music – is to see your byline… your name in print! From online sites such as Silent Radio, through to print titles like Bido Lito, your career as a music journalist will start the moment you step onto campus.
The Music Journalism programme has recently established its own Twitter feed, named (in honour of the legendary American rock critic Lester Bangs) @ChesterBangs. Although brand new, we have started to assemble some tweets from the one-word reviews that we start each class with. Feel free to use this Twitter feed to get in touch with the programme, even before you have joined us.
Get in touch
If this blog has stimulated your interest in this course, please don’t hesitate to contact the Programme Leader, Simon A. Morrison, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest news and events from the Department online. And, don’t forget, if you already have an offer of a place, you can visit us at one of our forthcoming Applicant Days.