Topic Focus: Music

Music writing is a challenge in itself - you're trying to put into words something that can only truly be appreciated when listened to.

However, like any other topic area, there are ways to get your message across - comparisons with well-known artists and songs, poetry-style imagery to evoke the necessary emotions, and so on.

These are just a few examples of my own writing in music-related areas.

Part of my five-year sentence at Adfero, the music reviews were actually one of the few truly enjoyable parts.

We weren't paid for them, but they were a chance to get a new album pre-release, and to get a byline - and they were a break from the usual blogging about broken boilers.

One of my most unexpectedly controversial efforts was this review of The Turn, by Alison Moyet. I had no idea there were militant Annie Lennox fans out there who had waged war on Alison Moyet, or that there were Alison Moyet fans who were aware of that and were ready to jump to her defence.

The reviews all followed the same format, so it was pretty hard to do anything truly original, but I always tried to find quotes that weren't the obvious options for the 'What the others say' section, which was intended to add a bit of balance to any particularly one-sided reviews.

I also wrote headline news for, so it's not 100% easy to find my reviews in amongst the 400 results, but this Google search does a decent job if you're interested in reading more.


Popsiculture is my collaboration with Dan Penman, a fellow graduate of BA Language, Literacy and Communication from the University of Manchester (and my flatmate for the past decade or so).

You can read about it here or visit it at

It's a pretty pleasing outlet for all sorts of interests - from live-blogging telethons to bad-mouthing the Black Eyed Peas, it's rare as a copywriter to have the chance to properly express an opinion without a worried client to edit it down into something tamer.

We've made good connections with PR companies and record labels, so we get to feature albums pre-release (and get them for free, which is nice!) and even occasionally pop into live gigs like the Futureheads and the Charlatans.

Popsiculture is also the reason why I know Jennie Sawdon - we reviewed her debut album, not to mention a live performance or two, and she's been kind enough to provide a testimonial in return...

"Bob is very wonderful with words.

"But as a singer/pianist and artist I can tell you that he is not only this.

"When someone chooses to write about a creative artist in any genre it is very important that they feel understood.

"Bob is very aware of this and is, indeed, so empathetic that he is almost able to reach inside a person's head, organise their thoughts and construct them something near poetry on a page. Many times I have read his articles on my music and thought, 'Yes, that's exactly how I feel!'

"I have been the lucky recipient/subject of many musical reviews by Bob and I know that many people who read them have not managed to make my actual performances. However, he conveys the atmosphere and emotion of my gigs with such enthusiasm, vibrancy and personal detail that they might almost have been there themselves.

"I believe it is because of the care with which he writes, and also the passion, that I have sold many albums retrospectively.

"Thank you Bob!"

- Jennie Sawdon

You can also read my words on Jennie's homepage and the 'Music' page of her website, at

Fetch Didsbury

One last example here - Fetch Didsbury is a local business directory that lists news and events from the Didsbury area.

I've contributed a few different reviews - not just of music, but of local restaurants too - but the example here is my review of a live jazz night hosted by our local haunt, The Sanctuary. You can read it here.

Again, I earned myself a testimonial, this time from Fetch Didsbury's curator, Harry.

"Bob has provided high quality and relevant copy for us on several occasions.

"He works quickly using his own initiative while submitting work that meets the often barely existent brief.

"His work has been the basis for articles which will be of use to our target audience into the future. We keep his email address close at hand.

- Harry, Fetch Didsbury

Music's one of those subject areas that many people will happily write for free - my own reviews aren't exactly what you'd call paid work, it's just a happy distraction.

However, if you're profit-making and in the music industry, it's always worth considering a bit of paid content to supplement any you're having written for free.

If nothing else, an experienced copywriter (like me!) will know the SEO tricks that could help a review to rank in an extremely crowded search subject, while still packing in enough opinion (and maybe controversy too) to keep your comments section alive.