This week — music news only for Inside.com!

I feel like a kid at Christmas unwrapping that Red Rider BB Gun. I’m writing music news — and only music news — all this week for Inside.com (and the Inside app for Android, iOs, and Blackberry). Follow the news feed here.

A couple of the stories I curated today -- Miley getting tracks readied with the Flaming Lips and good old CB getting in trouble again. Also, Iggy Azalea responds to Spears song leak; George R.R. Martin is a Deadhead; Joni Mitchell lands court-appointed conservator; and Vegas pool party brawl for Ludacris (whom I have met and he's really short btw)

A couple of the stories I curated today — Miley getting tracks readied with the Flaming Lips and good old CB getting in trouble again. Also, Iggy Azalea responds to Spears song leak; George R.R. Martin is a Deadhead; Joni Mitchell lands court-appointed conservator; and Vegas pool party brawl for Ludacris (whom I have met and he’s really short btw). 

I have found myself in a music journalism position over and over again in life. If I hadn’t found one, I created one. I remember being on the air for mornings at KZZP — well before the Internet got all fancy and we had Facebook, social media, even video. I didn’t even know what a CMS was back then. I probably only had five things online to log into and one was Hotmail… So things weren’t very far advanced. But I decided I would somehow create a “celebrity guestbook” feature on our website since we had so many famous people coming through our studios. I was met with resistance so it never came to be. I remember my morning show host bitching at me, “You’re wasting your time with this web stuff! It’s not going anywhere!” Now it’s 2015 and we can add that to the list of “I told you so’s” I’ve given him over the years. He also thought “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” would be a flop and wouldn’t let me play my interview with Nia Vardalos and John Corbett on the air! Ha!

Times have changed and I am happy to change with the times. It’s 2015 and I have 16 years of radio under my belt, a liberal arts degree from Boston University, a journalism certificate from Paradise Valley Community College, actual print/web/online journalism experience, and just basic life experience. (Yes, I have been blessed with much life experience most wish they never have to have). I think I’m just so happy to keep my journalism skills going right now. I’m also happy to be back in love with writing again.

Thanks for checking out my blog and progress this year. I have a freelance writing career as well as a creative writing practice that involves three novels in progress as well as much poetry… There is a lot more to come!

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I’m re-starting my freelance writing business!

Great news! I am re-starting my freelance writing business!

I gave it up in January 2008 to return to full-time corporate American living when I took a job as a digital editor at Westwood One Metro Source in Scottsdale, Arizona. I worked a morning shift updating news feeds for what ultimately became 98 radio station websites. Then I moved over to the Entertainment News desk and was assigned pop (CHR) and AC music stories as well as television stories about sitcoms, actors, and reality shows.

So yes, I wrote about Justin Bieber for Westwood One when he was a new YouTube phenomenon and the Jonas Brothers before Nick Jonas became an ab-slinging “Jealous” singer. I interviewed all those “Survivor” cast-offs (whose names I can’t remember now though it was fun) as well as some pretty cool actors from shows I actually liked — like the people from NBC’s “Community.” There may actually be audio of me interviewing Donald Glover on somebody’s aging hard drive somewhere…sigh…

Now he’s Childish Gambino and I’m doing morning radio on Power 93.5 in Wichita, Kansas playing his music! Life is full circle sometimes.

But since I’ve been here doing radio since January 2011, I’ve let the freelance writing fall away. Where did it go? Well, radio keeps me busy. Then I started my own Reiki business as I am a Reiki Master. That means I can practice on you as an energy worker as well as teach you the traditional Japanese art of Reiki.

But it’s time once again to hang up the “freelance writer” shingle outside my door. I used to write for CNET’s Webshots.com, reviewed a Mana concert while sitting front row (best sound ever), and created a kickin’ music festival podcast for the new defunct MelodyTrip.com… Actually, most of the sites I wrote for are now gone. It’s been seven years. I also have some journalism experience in print publications, especially in community magazines. There was a time I even wrote SEO copy. Jane of all trades…Master of…well, Reiki!

Check out my clips here on my Contently.com page.

Here’s what I would be fantastic and experienced at writing about for new clients: 

*Holistic health & wellness.

*Reiki, Quantum Touch, Massage, Energy work, energetics, angel healing, polarity, cranial sacral, animal Reiki, Seraphic Wisdom, metaphysics, meditation, spirituality, chakras, health spas, yoga, and more.

*Music, entertainment, and pop culture (often with an extra dose of snark and great quantities of humor).

*Gluten-free, allergen-free cooking and living.

*Concert, album reviews, and band interviews.

*Press releases, social media, and marketing materials.

*Commercial ad copy for radio spots.

*Guest blogging and ghost writing blogs for your company.

*Conducting interviews to either transcribe into Q&A for your website, or to use to create articles and original content for your company webpage. (I have years of experience conducing interviews with non-profits for radio public affairs shows as well as A-list celebrities for live on-air purposes as well as experience in conducting interviews for journalistic articles).

*Coaching and tips for those who are about to be interviewed by the media.

*Traditional and new media subjects; changes and trends in media.

Now to find my first freelance writing job! I was inspired this morning after a friend needed a rush job on some proofreading. Here goes nothing!

Introducing, me! The newest (old) freelance writer on the block!

Introducing, me! The newest (old) freelance writer on the block!

Please let me know how I can meet your writing needs via email at everythingheather [at] gmail [dot] com.

Another new low in celebrity journalism: a psychic channels MJ

I couldn’t agree more with FishBowl LA.  This sinks pretty low to the level of sleaze.  This can’t even be called “journalism.”  If ever I would have done something like this, it would have been as a morning radio jock doing a stunt and never considered “news” or “journalism.”  Michael Jackson has been a star for 40 years; certainly we can all come up with something better than this to fill space.  With “This Is It” just smoking the box office right now, this cannot be the best a person can do.  Good grief, go see the film and review it.  But don’t screw around putting out trash.  Find a new angle or let the story die.

An honest mistake in a changing celebrity news landscape

This Q&A with John Mayer by New York Magazine’s pop culture “Vulture” was pretty dang funny, to say the least.  I only happened upon it after one of my Twitter followers sent out a tweet that Mayer had threatened to sodomize female journalists.  As both a fan of Mayer and as a radio professional who has played his records since the beginning, I had to click on the link in her tweet.  As I started to read the Q&A with Mayer, I began to realize the joke, but my Twitter friend hadn’t and instead was upset with Mayer.  She had taken his words literally when he said, “I’m going to forcefully sodomize your editor.”

Here’s what might have happened.

An editor gave her writer questions to ask Mayer that were absurd.  But how absurd are they really?  In an age when what we post online is driven by page views and how much audience we can gain, the NY editor didn’t really make a mistake here.  The Q&A has me blogging about it and, earlier in the week, my twitter pal was up in arms about it.  So that’s two people driving traffic to the NY Mag site.

It seems to me like the editor thought she may get Mayer to say something controversial and newsworthy about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The questions asked seemed like attempts to snag something newsworthy to drive traffic to the site by asking serious questions.  We see TMZ.com do it all the time in their videos.  But the plan doesn’t always work when you ask a celeb a question like this.  Usually, they have no opinion or nothing newsworthy to say.

C’mon, editors, like you’re really going to get well-coached stars to say something to give you a hot story?  Mayer would rather say something smart ass about sodomizing you than take a Nobel question seriously.  He’s got a record to promote, so he’s not going to say anything to piss off his red state or blue state fans.  To me, this just seemed like an attempt to compete with TMZ gone wrong.

We’ve hit the saturation point with celebrity news and gossip.  How are we going to do it differently?

By not falling victims to trends or by copying what everyone else is doing.  But there’s also one vital thing to do.  If you’re going to cover celebrity news for a living, it doesn’t stop  when your 40 hours a week are up in the newsroom.  You don’t walk up to Mayer and ask him dumb questions like he’s a stranger you have no respect for.  Do your research.  And when I say “research,” Google doesn’t count.

You have to live this stuff.

You lifestyle has to be celebrity/entertainment news 24/7/365.  You can’t miss a thing.  Mayer fans know he’s a smart ass with dry, sarcastic, rude humor.  The fans also know he loves to liberally dish out his unique humor to journalists.  The editor and her writer would have known this if they’d been fans, or had at least watched Mayer on some TMZ videos verbally sparring with paparazzi and journalists.  The guy’s current single is about, “who says I can’t?”  Well, what do you think you’re going to get when you hit him up with your tape recorder at a party or on a red carpet?  Who says I can’t smart-ass this journalist chick who didn’t do her homework on me?

I’ve got clients to serve who want news on Mayer’s new album.  I’m not going to waste 2 minutes with him by asking him lame questions.  Tell me about “Battle Studies.”  (She did at least ask about that after asking a bunch of questions that annoyed him.  Way to go to build rapport…)

You never know where a conversation will go anyway.

I talked to Mike Kennerty of the All-American Rejects last week about how the band was getting back on the road after Tyson Ritter had emergency knee surgery.  Somehow we got to talking about a few different subjects, which was really cool and unexpected.  It wasn’t an exclusive; a lot of us got to do press over the phone with members of the band.  So we all had the story about them going back on tour.  But I know I got a couple of other tidbits out of him that will be exclusive to my Westwood One clients only.

I get what I get from people by doing my own thing and not trying to be like everyone else out there.  I treat artists with respect.  In Kennerty’s case, he was calling from London on a day off.  How would you like a bunch of strangers asking you questions for a few hours on end on your “day off?”  Exactly.  This is why you get so much more as a journalist just by being cool with people.

Anyone can put up a blog and start trying to compete with TMZ or Perez Hilton or whomever in online celebrity news and gossip you idolize.  Some of us were doing celeb news before it grew to what is currently is online, which is a massive echo-chamber.  I did it in radio first and I still do it for radio.

How do you do entertainment news today and stand out from the crowd?  How do you not fall victim to the echo chamber trap?  How can you do music news and still compete with countless blogs all writing about the same thing at the same time?  Should we even call it “news” any more?

Disclosure: I am a “New York” magazine subscriber and long-time fan of the online site.  Opinions expressed on this blog do not reflect that of any of my various employers.  I have also bought every John Mayer album I’ve ever had.

I am looking for freelance writing gigs as I re-brand myself

I am on a furlough day today.  After catching up on “The Office” and “Community” on Hulu.com this morning, my attention naturally drifted towards searching the Internet for freelance writing gigs.  As a full-time entertainment news writer suffering a severe pay cut, I feel the need to support my writing habit with…more writing jobs.

So I begin a serious search for gigs once again for the first time in nearly two years.  I honestly don’t remember where I found the good gigs before.  Some quick searches today showed me that ads online for gigs haven’t changed much in two years.  I used to apply for any and every appealing gig I saw–and took every single one I was offered.  I had to; freelancing was my primary income.  I would like my freelance income to supplement my main income today, as I do have a full-time job and therefore not as much time to freelance.

Branding

The other thing I want to accomplish with freelancing now that I didn’t think about before is personal branding.  Each gig I take now is an opportunity to increase my personal brand.  I can write about anything.  Freelance writers are generalists and being able to write about any and every subject assigned to you is survival.  But there are a few things I am really good at like music news, entertainment news, podcasting, being a radio personality, writing for the web, national news, and anything pop culture.  Actually, increasing my pop culture brand is the best thing I can do right now.

My Brand: Pop Culture

I think that’s a good goal above all else: increase my brand as a pop culture writer/content provider. Because I can create pop culture content for the web, print, and broadcast.  I hope you’ll join me as I blog about my career recreation right now.  Is it a recreation?  A makeover?  A re-branding?  I am not sure which word applies best to what I am trying to do.  I guess we’ll see as time goes on how this evolves…