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Monday 10 November 2014

What happened at the WordUp! conference?

Experts from the world of music journalism and PR provided some rare industry insight to students at Southampton Solent University’s second annual Word Up! conference.

The event gave students from popular music journalism, music promotion and other relevant courses the chance to learn about the business of music promotion from those working in the heart of the industry.

Guest speakers at the event included Sarah Hall, senior publicist at Sony Music; Alexis Petridis, the head music critic at The Guardian; Michael Cragg, features editor atPopjustice; Mike Diver, who is an online editor at Clash; Lauren Down, deputy editor atLine of Best Fit; and Dom Lawson, editor-at-large at Metal Hammer.

“The reality of my frankly shambolic life is a lot of sitting and hacking things out at 2am trying to meet deadlines.” – Dom Lawson

Highlighting the quality of the panel, Fiona Sturges, an associate lecturer here at Southampton Solent and the organiser of the event, said:

“This year’s speakers are some of the best-known and most skilled music journalists working right now. If anyone can advise our would-be writers and editors on how to get their careers off the ground, they can.”

“People get upset about the weirdest things. I interviewed Damien Rice… he’s obviously quite a damaged character.” – Alex Petridis

For many of those in attendance, the event was the first time that they had the chance to ask candid questions about the day to day reality of music journalism. Metal Hammer’s Dom Lawson, who invited students to pitch to the magazine, said of the event:

“To speak to people that are doing what you actually want to do is essential if you’re going to get a fully rounded view of what being a music journalist actually means. There’s going to be a lot of things you won’t have time to cover in the course, so to speak to people in the midst of it on a daily basis is really good for you.

“The inventiveness of your writing has to make people want to read beyond the score.” – Lauren Down (left)

The event was set up and run with the help of students, one of which was popular music journalism student and Noise Cannon reviews editor Jodie-Mae Finch. She said:

“I enjoyed helping out with Word Up! and chatting to so many interesting people – I think having the chance to talk to people from the industry and hear their insight is really important for planning a career in music journalism.”

Word Up! also represented the continuation of a relationship with Louder than Words festival, a celebration of music and words taking place in Manchester this month. Popular Music Journalism course leader Professor Martin James will be joining NME features editor Laura Snapes in a panel called ‘There was no golden age’, an exploration of contemporary music criticism.

Visit to find out more about studying for a career in music journalism ormusic promotion.