Imperfect pitch: Music writing in the 21st century



3 September 2013

Writing about music was never a route to riches, but the digital era has made it an even tougher livelihood. There are more public spaces for music discourse than ever, thanks to webzines, blogs, message boards, and other online forums. At the same time, analogue forms of music criticism are also thriving: specialist and small-run print magazines proliferate as the golden age for serious books about music continues, from weighty macro-narratives mapping eras and genres to micro-studies that focus on individual albums or songs. What to make of this paradoxical situation where it’s never been easier to voice your opinion about music, but never harder to make a career out of it? Author Simon Reynolds, critic Anwyn Crawford, journalist Craig Mathieson and cultural historian Rebecca Sheehan discussed the past, present and future of music writing at this public forum.

This was a Sydney Ideas event presented with the Faber Academy and the US Studies Centre.  


  • Simon Reynolds
    Music Critic

    Simon Reynolds was a visitor at the US Studies Centre in 2013. Reynolds is an English music journalist, critic and author of seven books about music and pop culture, including Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock, The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'N' Roll (co-authored with Joy Press) and Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. He has also contributed to many magazines and newspapers such as The Wire, Melody Maker, The New York Times, Village Voice, The Guardian, Rolling Stone and The Observer.

  • Anwyn Crawford

    Anwyn Crawford is a writer and visual artist. Her music criticism has appeared in publications including The Age, The Monthly, Overland, Frieze and the Faber & Faber journal Loops: Writing Music. She is currently at work on a monograph for Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series on the...

  • Craig Mathieson

    Craig Mathieson writes about music, film and television for The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Sunday Age and the Sun-Herald. A former film critic for the Bulletin and magazine editor, Mathieson’s work has also appeared in the NME, Kerrang and Q. He has been writing about music since the age of 17 and his previous books include Hi Fi Days, The Sell-In, Playlisted: Everything You Need to Know About Australian Music Right Now, The 100 Best Australian Albums and The 100 Best Albums of All Time.  

  • Dr Rebecca Sheehan
    Dr Rebecca Sheehan
    Lecturer in the Sociology of Gender, Macquarie University

    Rebecca Sheehan is Program Director of Gender Studies and Lecturer in the Sociology of Gender at Macquarie University. Sheehan was previously a Lecturer in US History at the US Studies Centre. Her key areas of expertise are US women’s history, feminist history, history of gender and sexuality, history of social movements in the US, and cultural politics, including race, gender, religion and sexuality.