When the floor was opened to questions, panelists received a stream of requests for career advice. Set criteria about the quality and pay you’re willing to accept before taking freelance work, said Werde. “Write for brands,” suggested Ganz, who explained that many brands are branching out into content and need savvy music writers to fill slots. “Be a one-percenter,” Werde chimed in again, quoting a guest lecture he’d been to by Columbia Journalism School Dean Nick Lemann, who said that when everyone is chasing the same story, turn away from it and find something completely new.

If the panelists’ own paths are any example, a career in music journalism can take many forms. Only one thing seemed constant: Right now, nothing is constant.

“The last 10 years have been interesting,” said Wagner, the host. “But the last five years have been truly, excellently fucked up.”


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Hazel Sheffield is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @hazelsheffield.