Music Reviewer

Scott, 29, is a music reviewer for Chart magazine in Toronto. He has always had a love of music, and after attending Sheridan College's print journalism program, he was able to turn his interest into a career. Chart magazine hired him for an internship in 2006, and now he attends concerts and interviews bands as part of his job.

Sarah: What made you decide to become a music reviewer? How did you become a music reviewer?
Scott: I was somewhat led into the job of music reviewer by my lifestyle. I'm what's commonly referred to as a music snob – I own over 400 CDs, I talk about music all the time, and I harbor a deep disdain for most commercial acts. I broke into the business by applying for an internship with Chart Magazine.

Sarah: What do you like about what you do?
Scott: I enjoy working for Chart, because my day consists of writing about music and listening to music. I also get to spend a lot of my nights attending concerts. These are things that I already did for leisure. My job is actually fun for me – a rare find these days.

Sarah: What is your least favourite part of your job?
I suppose the least enjoyable part of my job is that a lot of the time, I have to remain neutral when writing about bands or artists that I don't particularly care for. I'm able to insert my opinion if I'm reviewing a CD or a concert, but if I'm writing a news article about a band I hate, I have to remain unbiased (while in my mind, I'm thinking up all sorts of nasty jokes). Even in music reporting the most fundamental rule is to report the facts – it's up to the reader to form the opinion.

Sarah: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a music reviewer?
If you want to become an effective reviewer, you must completely ensconce yourself in the world of music. You may only be fond of one genre, but to succeed, you need to know a little bit about all kinds of music and music-related topics - radio hits, Elvis, Norwegian death metal, rap, country, record labels, etc. Well-rounded knowledge is essential if you want readers to trust your opinions. You need to be a virtual walking encyclopedia of music facts. You won't just be reviewing CDs by your favourite bands; you'll be appraising music that appears at all points of the spectrum.

Sarah: Do you need to go through post-secondary education to do what you do? What kind of education did you get?
Unless you're an established freelance writer, getting your foot in the door in the writing world is next to impossible. I know, I tried. Employers definitely look for some sort of journalism or writing degree or diploma. You may be a decent writer, but they want to see that you've been trained to write for commercial publications. Writing for a newspaper or a magazine is not as simple as it may appear – there are a lot of rules to learn that the average reader or writer may not consider. I went to Sheridan College and took their two-year print journalism program.

Sarah: What has been the best band or album that you have reviewed?
My most memorable and enjoyable experience wasn't actually a review; it was an interview with a woman from Six Shooter Records. She was hilarious, and was not afraid to swear.

Sarah: What has been your least favorite band or album that you have reviewed?
My least favourite review was actually my very first. It was a group called the Parenthetical Girls. First of all, the group was all boys. Secondly, their music was terribly boring. My first instinct was to give them a zero, but I think I took pity on them and ranked them a two out of five. Worse music does exist – hopefully, it never crosses my path.

Sarah: What has been your favourite event that you have reviewed?
My favourite event to review was the North By Northeast music festival. I was at concerts for four nights in a row, and all of them were bands that I love.

Sarah: What has been your least favorite event that you have reviewed?
So far, I haven't been to an event that I didn't enjoy. I had a close call once though – I was invited by promoters to what's called a b-boying competition. It's basically breakdancing in a boxing ring. There were some semi-famous rappers performing at the event and the organizers wanted someone from Chart to show up and cover it. I was the only one in the office that was considering it, but in the end, I decided not to go. It was probably a good decision.