Hello everyone, and welcome to a new segment I’ve created called ‘Tuesday Chats’.
‘Tuesday Chats’ is going to be an ongoing series with more of an informal vibe, as I’ve noticed that while my content is becoming more formal and professional, I don’t have many posts whereby I just chat to you and let more of my personality come through.
Because of this, I wanted to incorporate a regular thread where I just talk to you about things that are on my mind. This also breaks things up amongst the reviews and articles which, by nature, have to be very thought out and structured. So, what better way to kick off this series than with something music related (as not all of these posts will be) that has been on my mind for a while, and that is: do I have the right to talk about music?
A few months back, while I was travelling somewhere, I got talking to someone on the journey who turned out to be a musician. He asked me what I did, so I told him that I was between jobs but I run this blog and I’m a qualified music journalist. He then proceeded to ask: ‘so who are you then, to give your opinion?’ His statement, coupled with the tone of his voice, translated into: ‘who is going to care about your opinion, what gives you the right to talk about music?’ and for a minute, I didn’t really know what to say.
I was unsure about writing a blog post about this subject as I didn’t want it to come across as though I was ‘blowing my own trumpet’, but then recently, I saw a video on YouTube that re-inspired me.
Let me just take a second here to introduce you to tattoo YouTuber Treacle Tatts, or Lauren, if you prefer. Describing herself as “your verbally unfiltered friend”, Lauren makes videos, mainly, about tattoos. Nothing more than a tattoo enthusiast – with no official training or notable experience other than being tattooed – Lauren uses her channel to share her love of the art, in the form of sharing her opinions and experiences. At the tail-end of last year, Lauren uploaded a video entitled ‘Do I Have The Right To Talk About Tattoos?’ in which, she shared her reasons for making videos about tattoos and some of the backlash she has received because of it.
Around the 10 minute mark, Lauren asks: ‘Do I have the right to talk about tattoos and tell people what a tattoo should look like?’ to which she answers no and explains her reasoning. That, as well as the title of the video in general, really struck a chord with me as my immediate answer to the question was: yes, why wouldn’t you have the right to talk about it? Especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.
This brings me back to my original point: who am I, an unknown non-musician and self-confessed music obsessive, to critique and give my opinion on anyone’s music? Honestly, it played on my mind for a while, but after thinking about it, there are a few reasons why I have just as much right to talk about music as anyone else.
The first of which being, that I have a BA (hons) degree in Music Journalism. Now, I know how pretentious that may sound, like ‘I’ve been to uni and now I know all’. No, that’s not what I’m going for. All I mean to say is that I chose to go to uni and study Music Journalism for three years, learning how to write good reviews and articles, how to conduct interviews, and really honing my skills as a writer.
Also, you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, I actually set up this blog during my degree as a requirement for one of our assignments. So, outside of classes I was putting into practice what I was learning. I decided to use the platform to create a body of work that I could show to prospective employers when I graduated, so instead of just saying I’m motivated and able to act on my own initiative, they’d see it. Because I enjoyed it so much I would also seek out contribution opportunities, and enquire about artist interviews, in my spare time. As a result I had my first two pieces published in BBM Magazine, as well as had the opportunity to interview some of my favourite artists including, The Summer Set’s Brian Dales, Elissa Franceschi, and Set It Off’s Cody Carson.
It was important to me to have work experience as well as my degree because, fun fact, I was once told that a journalism degree is almost worthless. I went to a university fare during my A-Levels and asked one of the reps about Journalism degrees, to which he replied: “why are you doing a journalism degree if you want to be a journalist? most places want experience, a degree isn’t going to get you a job.” I was stunned. I agree that there’s nothing worse than an arrogant graduate fresh out of university thinking they’re now entitled to a job purely because of that fact, but I still chose to do a degree because I thought if I could have both a degree and experience, it may work in my favour.
In terms of being able to talk technically about music, obviously I learned some terminology over the course of my degree, but something you may not know about me is that I sing. It’s not something I publicise but I enjoy singing and had vocal lessons on and off for three years. Through this, I learned a lot about different techniques and how to use them in your performance to get the best out of your voice. Now when I listen to music, I’m able to identify if someone is straining to hit notes outside of their range, or simple things like not singing with your mouth open enough (which sounds silly, but can actually make a big difference to how you sound.)
Lastly, I feel that I’m ‘qualified’ to talk about music, simply because I have a genuine love and passion for music and the people who make it. I think that if you genuinely enjoy something, you will inevitably find yourself learning more about the subject naturally – therefore becoming even more informed. As I’ve said multiple times before, I’m not a full-time blogger and I don’t get paid for anything you see on here, but music is a huge part of my life and it’s what I’m passionate about. I enjoy talking to people about – and sharing – the music that I love in the hopes of reaching someone who will like it just as much and, at its core, that’s what this blog is about.
I never want to be seen as a know-it-all or unapproachable, I simply hope that my love for music is reflected in my writing and is an accurate representation of myself. Because of this I very seldom give bad reviews. I think there’s enough negativity that exists on the internet – in the form of trolling and things like that – and I don’t see the need to add to it. One of my favourite quotes is: “Be an advocate for what you love instead of bashing what you hate”, and that is exactly the approach I take to blogging. I don’t see the need to write a review that highlights everything I don’t like about a piece of music, I’d rather spend my time talking about the things I do like and being known for spreading love and positivity.
So, do I have the right to talk about music? Yes. Anyone with half a brain will understand that art is subjective, meaning whether or not you like something is based on personal opinion and how it affects you. No one else, you. That is all I try to convey in my blogs; you may not like the music that I like but then again, you might. So, Instead of just saying ‘hey, I like this’, I give an informed opinion telling you my reasons for liking, or disliking, something. My only hope is to reach like-minded music lovers and to encourage people to give things a chance – I’ve been surprised many a time by music that I didn’t think I’d necessarily like.
But honestly, I think that if you have a genuine, deep-rooted love and passion for a subject, and you make it your business to continuously learn and grow your knowledge of it, then you have just as much right to talk about it and offer an opinion as anyone else.
As always thank you for reading. What are your thoughts on the subject? Would you rather listen to someone who has all the qualifications in the world but no passion, or someone who is admittedly learning all the time and just loves what they’re talking about?
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*Just in case anyone picks up on this, I’d like to address that Lauren (Treacle Tatts) does have two videos on her channel about Tattoo Fixers that are far from favourable, and if you follow my blog you’ll know that as a viewer, I enjoy the show and I’ve actually been tattooed by one of the featured artists. However, I don’t see this difference of opinion as a problem; I’d hope people can accept that not everyone is going to feel the same about certain things – it’s what makes life interesting. I’m always curious to hear other people’s opinions (which is why I watched her videos on the show in the first place,) it doesn’t stop me enjoying her content and I’m a fan of her candid, down-to-earth personality – she comes across as a great person to hang out and talk tattoos with. A big thank you to her for being cool about me posting this and agreeing to be a reference within the discussion – Thank you Lauren!