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If you have good communication skills, an ear for music and a talent for writing, becoming a music journalist may be a rewarding and lucrative career move for you. Music journalists earn a living critiquing concerts, albums, musicals and all different types of musical materials and performances. They might even interview famous performers and music legends and earn their living writing about what they've learned, publishing it for the world to read.
According to the StateUniversity.com career profile website, the average starting salary for a music journalist is about $43,000 per year, as of November 2010. You may earn more or less depending on your education, location, reputation and experience. Typically, freelance writers have a fluctuating income because they work in a manner similar to paid contractors. Freelancer salaries are determined by how many jobs they accept per year and how much these jobs pay. Music journalists who work as staff writers are ordinarily paid a regular and consistent salary, which can reach up to $80,000 per year.
Education and Preliminary Experience
Most successful music journalists carry a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or both. Typically, music journalists that have a degree in related fields can earn around $43,000 per year in an entry-level position, as of November 2010. Provided you have a solid musical background and writing experience, you may be able to secure a low-paying or volunteer position in the industry without having had a formal education. It's not uncommon for aspiring music journalists to gain experience by completing internships with local record companies or publications and move on to entry-level paying positions. Many music journalists participate in unpaid internships while attending college to help build their portfolios and prepare for paying assignments after college.
As in most careers and occupations, your salary as music journalist may vary according to where you choose to live and work. According to the Indeed employment website, an experienced music journalist in Chicago earns an average salary of about $69,000 per year, as of November 2010, while the same position in New York City is worth $81,000. In Ann Arbor, Mich., the average median salary is around $51,000; in Boise, Idaho, it's $49,000.
Perks and Benefits
In addition to salary, there are industry-specific perks to being a music journalist and sometimes standard benefits as well. If you're reviewing concerts, for example, you may find yourself rubbing elbows with famous artists, receiving VIP invitations to special events or gaining access to restricted areas at music festivals. Well-known and respected journalists may receive all-expenses-paid travel and accommodations to conduct their business. Music journalists who work exclusively for one particular publication often receive benefits such as medical and dental insurance and paid vacations, holidays and sick days, in addition to their wages.
Advancement prospects for music journalists look positive with so much media attention on entertainment. Web publications offer additional opportunities for aspiring industry writers. No matter what your level of education, it's possible to establish a lucrative career as a music journalist. The top average salary for experienced music journalists is about $80,000, as of November 2010. Typically, however, achieving monetary success is a gradual process. Music journalists often pave their way to higher-paying careers by advancing from local to regional to national publications, ultimately leading to positions with prestigious music magazines.
Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.