Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

“At its best, journalism informs. But at its brightest, journalism inspires. That’s thanks to arts and music. It improves our quality of life and strengthens our sense of place.”

If journalism is the first rough draft of history, arts and music are the universal languages binding its pages together and preserving it for future generations. Arts and music drive conversations, encourage economic impact through travel and exploration, and bridge the gap between languages and cultures.

Which is why my prediction is a call to action: In a year where the presidency and pandemic were the preoccupations of our 24-hour news cycle, and in a year where the arts and music industry were decimated by Covid-19, it’s time for journalism to reinvest in our community’s culture and creative scenes.

So what can we do — as reporters, producers, and digital media-makers — to rebuild the local arts communities impacted by venue closures and stay-at-home mandates? How can we encourage media institutions (big and small, national and local) to use their platforms in innovative ways that combine stories with song and artistic sentiment?

Amplify music through podcasts and digital media. “There are few kinds of content that can transcend cultures and times as well as music can,” says Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez, who told the Los Angeles Times in 2019 that music podcasts were “one of the last and untapped big content genres in podcasting.”

Which makes sense: a recent Edison Research study showed that 39 percent of podcast listeners were interested in podcasts about music, which likely explains why everyone from major music companies like Sony to streaming services like Spotify to musicians themselves are getting into the podcast game.

Sing it loud and proud: the future is bright (and booming) for music podcasting and digital media. Look to the multi-platform success of Song Exploder, the wildly popular rise of live streaming events like Verzuz, and the continued ascendance of well-produced performances like NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, and you’ll see there is an opportunity (for new audience development, sponsorships, membership, events, and beyond) within this music-minded medium.

Opportunities are everywhere. Be intentional. Looking for a song for your next video or radio piece? Skip the overused music bed and reach out to local musicians and instrumentalists for original material and credit their work. (With a call-out and a Google form, WFAE’s award-winning Amplifier podcast did just that; to date, we’ve received more than 700 music contacts from in and around Charlotte, North Carolina.)

Need a dynamic component for your next virtual event or live stream? Bring on a visual artist to beautifully document the conversation or a spoken word performer to provide opening comments on the program’s theme. Even if you have only 30 seconds of space to fill, that is 30 seconds that can be filled with fresh thoughts and feelings by a local creative, whose contributions are then shared with countless readers, listeners, and audience members. By being intentional with your arts and music features, you are transforming your outlet into a platform for cultural discovery and connections.

Stop, collaborate, and listen. Culture fosters collaboration. Take a moment and think of the possibilities in partnering with community organizations, local businesses, or fellow media outlets to create on-air, online, or virtual events focused on spotlighting arts, music, and culture. If you’re looking for ideas, you can follow the footsteps of noncomMUSIC Alliance and the hundreds of NPR member stations who came together to celebrate music discovery with the inaugural Public Radio Music Day.

At its best, journalism informs. But at its brightest, journalism inspires. That’s thanks to arts and music. It improves our quality of life and strengthens our sense of place. We needed that in the doomscroll year of 2020, and we more than deserve that in 2021. Media platforms can (and should) make great strides to provide it in the new year.

Joni Deutsch is on-demand content and audience engagement manager for WFAE in Charlotte.

If journalism is the first rough draft of history, arts and music are the universal languages binding its pages together and preserving it for future generations. Arts and music drive conversations, encourage economic impact through travel and exploration, and bridge the gap between languages and cultures.

Which is why my prediction is a call to action: In a year where the presidency and pandemic were the preoccupations of our 24-hour news cycle, and in a year where the arts and music industry were decimated by Covid-19, it’s time for journalism to reinvest in our community’s culture and creative scenes.

So what can we do — as reporters, producers, and digital media-makers — to rebuild the local arts communities impacted by venue closures and stay-at-home mandates? How can we encourage media institutions (big and small, national and local) to use their platforms in innovative ways that combine stories with song and artistic sentiment?

Amplify music through podcasts and digital media. “There are few kinds of content that can transcend cultures and times as well as music can,” says Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez, who told the Los Angeles Times in 2019 that music podcasts were “one of the last and untapped big content genres in podcasting.”

Which makes sense: a recent Edison Research study showed that 39 percent of podcast listeners were interested in podcasts about music, which likely explains why everyone from major music companies like Sony to streaming services like Spotify to musicians themselves are getting into the podcast game.

Sing it loud and proud: the future is bright (and booming) for music podcasting and digital media. Look to the multi-platform success of Song Exploder, the wildly popular rise of live streaming events like Verzuz, and the continued ascendance of well-produced performances like NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, and you’ll see there is an opportunity (for new audience development, sponsorships, membership, events, and beyond) within this music-minded medium.

Opportunities are everywhere. Be intentional. Looking for a song for your next video or radio piece? Skip the overused music bed and reach out to local musicians and instrumentalists for original material and credit their work. (With a call-out and a Google form, WFAE’s award-winning Amplifier podcast did just that; to date, we’ve received more than 700 music contacts from in and around Charlotte, North Carolina.)

Need a dynamic component for your next virtual event or live stream? Bring on a visual artist to beautifully document the conversation or a spoken word performer to provide opening comments on the program’s theme. Even if you have only 30 seconds of space to fill, that is 30 seconds that can be filled with fresh thoughts and feelings by a local creative, whose contributions are then shared with countless readers, listeners, and audience members. By being intentional with your arts and music features, you are transforming your outlet into a platform for cultural discovery and connections.

Stop, collaborate, and listen. Culture fosters collaboration. Take a moment and think of the possibilities in partnering with community organizations, local businesses, or fellow media outlets to create on-air, online, or virtual events focused on spotlighting arts, music, and culture. If you’re looking for ideas, you can follow the footsteps of noncomMUSIC Alliance and the hundreds of NPR member stations who came together to celebrate music discovery with the inaugural Public Radio Music Day.

At its best, journalism informs. But at its brightest, journalism inspires. That’s thanks to arts and music. It improves our quality of life and strengthens our sense of place. We needed that in the doomscroll year of 2020, and we more than deserve that in 2021. Media platforms can (and should) make great strides to provide it in the new year.

Joni Deutsch is on-demand content and audience engagement manager for WFAE in Charlotte.

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