What does your role entail on a day to day?
I have three main roles that I commit most of my time to on a daily basis – Online Music Editor at RWD Mag, Hip-Hop Editor at Clash Magazine and Social Media Editor at 100 Percent – then I often pick up freelance projects and writing commissions along the way.
On a daily basis, I’ll spend a few hours updating the RWD Mag website with news posts, new music and long-form features, which usually involves picking up the phone to do an interview. In the past twelve months, we’ve had in-depth interviews with everyone from the stars of the future such as Jammz and Gallant to heavyweights like Giggs and Big Sean.
I’ll also work on new content for 100 Percent, which is a UMG-owned media brand that I’m helping to build around their Hip-Hop, Grime and R&B playlists. That entails everything from writing copy for short videos, curating playlists on SoundCloud and Apple Music to liaising with artists and their managers on how we can support their new releases.
Clash stuff tends to depend on where we’re at within the creation of an issue, if we’ve just dropped one then we’re normally catching up to talk about which acts we should be talking to for our next issue, or we might be setting up photoshoots, or if it’s deadline week then I’ll probably be hiding myself away in cafes and writing and editing features all week.
Then the most important thing is to find time to actually listen to music, which I usually do while I’m out walking from place to place, or if I’m getting a train somewhere. I live in Leeds and mostly work from home, so I don’t have a commute, I just have to carve out some time for that. I usually listen to the latest Beats 1 shows, Chillin Island on Know Wave radio and then get caught up on whatever albums and mixtapes have dropped that week. Without staying up on new music, I really can’t do any of my other work.
How did you land your current role?
I’ve rarely applied for any of the jobs I have in a traditional way. Since the beginning of my career, I’ve just worked hard and been as prolific as possible with what I believe to be high quality work – a lot of it having been unpaid for years, which I spent living back with my parents in Newcastle in order to make things work. From there I’ve found jobs mainly by being recommended by mutual friends, or sometimes just reaching out and introducing myself. I try to set up a day or two of meetings in London every couple of months just to touch base with people and keep up my relationships.
What is the best thing about your job?
When I’m caught up in a project and things get stressful it’s easy to forget, but ultimately getting to indulge and share my love of music is the best thing about my job. The stuff I’m doing is stuff that I’d find a way to do whether it was my job or not – so I’m lucky to be being paid for it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been motivated, soothed, excited and encouraged by my favourite artists, so it’s nice to be able to give back in some small way.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
The most challenging aspect is the fact that I only have a certain amount of time with which to work and, because my job is tied so closely into my passion, I find it difficult to switch off.
I also think the fact that we live in such a fast food culture, where people demand so much so quickly can make things difficult. It would be nice if music had time to marinate and last like I remember it doing when I was a kid and all my CDs fit in one shoe box – but now when Friday comes and the new albums drop, it feels like whatever came out last week is decades old. There’s definitely a flip side to that though, we always have a tonne of new music to be excited about and inspired by, and I think music as a whole is more varied than ever – as long as you take the time to look beyond the surface.
What are the three main skills needed to do your job?
Passion, determination and curiosity. I think as long as you’re open to reflect and learn, you put in that work to learn your history, practice constantly and don’t get put off by the many hurdles that will undoubtedly be thrown at you along the way, then you’ll be successful. Everyone I know who hasn’t made it in whatever field they were pursuing did so because they got distracted by other paths or their ego got in the way of learning, so they gave up and changed direction. It’s never been because they weren’t good enough.
What is your career highlight so far?
There’s been a lot of highlights, I’ve interviewed most of my heroes and have had the chance to travel a little bit, which is always cool. But my highlight has to be the weekend I spent in North Carolina with J. Cole and his crew in North Carolina around the release of his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album. That insight into his relationship with the people around him – his team, his family and his friends – and his relationship with success, has actually had a profound affect on the way I’ve approached my own career since.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone that wants to work in the creative industries?
Always take some time out to self-evaluate on a monthly basis, and never compare yourself to others. As long as you’re making some progress towards your personal goals, then that’s all that is important. Everyone has their own path, but as long as you’re focussed on your own growth and you stay on track then you’ll make it.