Imperfect Pitch: Music Writing in the 21st Century

Presented with the Faber Academy and the US Studies Centre, the University of Sydney

3 September

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? Join author Simon Reynolds, critic Anwyn Crawford, journalist Craig Mathieson and cultural historian Rebecca Sheehan for a discussion about the past, present and future of music writing.


Simon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds is the 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), Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984, Bring The Noise: 20 Years of Writing about Hip Rock and Hip-Hop, Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews, and, most recently, Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past. He has also contributed to The Wire, Melody Maker, The New York Times, Village Voice, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The Observer, Artforum, New Statesman, Mojo, Uncut, Spin, Slate, LA Times, and others. He is an avid blogger with a number of blogs centred around Blissblog. Born in London, resident in New York for most of the nineties and noughties, he now lives in Los Angeles.

Simon Reynolds is in Australia as a guest of the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Brisbane Writers Festival.

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 Hole album Live Through This. She has a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University and is a graduate of the University of Sydney.

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.

Rebecca Sheehan

Rebecca Sheehan lectures in US history at the United States Studies Centre, the University of Sydney, including in her course “Sex, Race and Rock in the USA.” After starting in community radio at the age of 14, Sheehan worked in music and media production in Sydney, Singapore and New York before getting a PhD from the University of Southern California. She has published on rock music in the 1970s and is currently working on a book about how radical feminism, rock music, and evangelical religion together created a new sexual culture in America’s 1970s.