Alannah (Lana) Williams is one of Manchester’s most prolific figures in music journalism.
In such a difficult industry to get into, Lana has single-handedly paved her way in the scene, amounting to feats such as founding the music blog Music Is To Blame (which is now also a PR company), becoming head music editor at The Indiependent, as well as contributing to over 15 music publications.
As a writer and sub-editor for Music Is To Blame, I interviewed Lana about how she integrated herself into music journalism, an industry widely-known as difficult to get into; as well as any advice she has for those looking to work in it.
How did you first get into journalism and how did you get into music journalism?
“I was forced to drop out of school when I was 14 cause I was really unwell, and I just found myself with like all this time at home with nothing to do. One day I was like ‘I’m gonna start a blog’. I didn’t care if anyone read it or anything, it was just kind of like a creative outlet for myself. I remember the first thing I started writing, every day starting with ‘A’ and ending with ‘Z’ I wrote a new artist to write about. I wasn’t necessarily reviewing, it was like a mini-Wikipedia on this little website. One day this band got in contact with me and was like ‘hey do you want to review our new track?’ and I was like ‘oh, music journalism is a career?’ […] I never realised I could combine my love for music with actually writing about it. From there it spiraled into what it is now.”
What’s the best advice for someone starting out fresh who wants to do what you do? Be it editing a music blog or just contributing to magazines.
“The most important thing is even if you don’t have published work, you need to have some sort of document that has some examples of your writing. Even if you just write 100 words about your favourite song or something, that’s always so important.”
It’s easy to be discouraged in the tough world of music journalism. Alannah says “I can’t even count the amount of magazines or publications that I sent letters off to […] and the amount that either didn’t get back or said ‘sorry you’re not what we’re looking for.’ It is just a case of keep persevering no matter how many setbacks you have.”
As I am in a position where I have some experience in the industry, and much of the articles I write are about music, I asked Lana what she thinks is the next step people in my position should take.
“You’ve just got to have a really good portfolio with links of all your work. I know some people even make websites that has all their work on it as well. You need to stand out from everyone else.”
Freelancing in music journalism is a great way to channel your passion into a constructive outlet, and while the industry boasts a tough exterior to penetrate, it could very well be possible to get into it with the right skills, drive and experience.
You can check out Lana’s publication at Music Is To Blame