Industry Spotlight: Joshua Hammond

There are many people working in music today who have taken on two or more job titles in order to chase their dreams of a career in this industry. Some book shows by day and tour in their own band by night, while others blog during the day and spend their evenings working PR. The highlighted talent in this feature lives a life akin to the latter of those two possibilities, and we could not be more excited to his journey. If you know of a writer or site that deserves a mention on our blog, please do not hesitate to email and share your story.

Today’s feature is all about drive. Many people who are passionate about music attempt to make a career out of it without possessing the drive required to pull it off. Passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist, but does not equip you with the mindset needed to preserver when times get tough. Drive, on the other hand, pushes you toward that which you feel compelled or obligated to do. It’s almost as if it is not choice for the driven individual to succeed because to them there is no other way to properly live out their existence. This often requires great risk and sacrifice, but driven individuals see such things as little more than barriers keeping them from their perceived potential. They walk the road less traveled and if they’re lucky they live to tell the tale.

Growing up in a home that found more value in sharing the music of The Beatles with kids than your typical children’s songs, Joshua Hammond felt a strong connection to the world of music from an early age. Kansas is not exactly a mecca for the industry, so when he was old enough to begin pursuing a career Josh took it upon himself to start a music blog and began sharing his thoughts with world. Those efforts quickly found an audience, and in the years that followed he began to rise through the ranks of digital music journalists. He moved to New York City in 2013 after landing a full time job in another sector of the business, but there isn’t a day that goes by without him contributing at least a couple hundred words to the blogosphere. You can read about his journey below.

If you would like to learn more about Josh’s contributions to the music industry, be sure to check out Under The Gun ReviewHigh Voltage, and Reybee. Additional questions and comments for Josh can be left at the end of this post.

H: For those unaware, please state your name, the site you work for, and your role at said site:

JH: Joshua Hammond. I currently work as a feature writer for both Under the Gun Review and High Voltage Magazine. I’ve previously worked for PropertyofZack, and The Deli as well.

H: When you think about the path you have followed in life, when do you think you relationship with music began?

JH: I think I have always sort of had a relationship with music. For as long as I can remember it has been extremely important to me. It was something that always ran in our family. I can recall as a very young child, listening to The Beatles and The Cars instead of children’s songs.

I started playing in bands in my teens. I did that through my mid-twenties before finding myself lacking the desire to play. I t was at that point that I started a personal blog called Popwreckoning (RIP) that ended up turning into an actual music blog. Once I started down that path, I really never looked back.

H: What was the first album you ever purchased with your own money? Do you still own it today?

JH: I bought Dookie by Green Day with money that I had made mowing lawns in the small, country town I grew up in. I listened to it endlessly for the next six months until it was stolen from my locker by a group of 6th grade hooligans. To this day, I still hold a grudge.

H: There are many ways into the music industry, and for you it seems writing was the key. To what or whom do you attribute your interest in journalism?

JH: Even as a kid, my grandpa always encouraged me to write. Growing up, he would make sure I took an hour a night to create a story for him. He really pushed me to both read and practice creating stories. Early on in my life, I can remember him having me read news magazines and explain to him what I had learned. I think it was through this that I realized that I wanted to be a reporter. That was something I really found intriguing about sharing a discovery or event with people.

H: When did you begin writing about music?

JH: I reviewed Kevin Devine’s Make the Clocks Move in 2003. So I guess I have been at this for 10 years now.

H: Many of the talent we have featured live near major cities. You, on the other hand, hail from Kansas. What can you tell us about the challenges of building a name for yourself in music while living in the middle of America?

JH: I think the major difference in working in a Midwestern music scene is that you have to take what you’re offered. Kansas City and Lawrence have a great music scene in terms of local talent. Soft Reeds, The Republic Tigers, The Get Up Kids, The Architects and The Appleseed Cast have all come out of there. There is a pretty solid swell of talent brewing as well speak, with Radkey, Quiet Coral, Not a Planet, Beautiful Bodies and many others. However, in terms of national tours, we get skipped over a lot by the major acts. So, living there helped me learned to dig in and find the “next big thing” playing in the local dive.

H: You recently relocated to New York City. How has life in the Big Apple changed your career?

JH: I think the biggest change has been having access to everything. Every tour stops here. It has been amazing to be able to mark band after band off my “must see list.”

It is also nice to be in a city that gives me access to meet the publicists that I email with on a daily basis. It shifts that relationship to a bit more of a personal level.

H: You now write for Under The Gun Review, but that was not always the case. How did you come to join the team, and what publications did you call home prior?

JH: I ran a site called Popwreckoning from 2007 until January of 2012. I ended up walking away from the management roll because it kept me from doing what I loved the most, which was writing.

Shortly after closing the site, I signed on at Under the Gun Review and High Voltage to write reviews. I also did some coverage for The Deli, The Midnight Wire, Lost in Review and served as Managing Editor of PropertyofZack for a bit. However, due to life clutter, I’m back to just the two publications.

H: In the last year your career has evolved to include a role in the PR world. How do you balance your two gigs without creating a conflict of interest?

JH: I think time management is the most important aspect of balancing the two. I have had to form a work, nap, write style of living. Balancing the two leaves very little time for much else, but is worth the work and effort. I love that both push bands forward and help them get to their goals. Working at Another Reybee Production has been great in helping me do so.

H: Now that you’ve found work in an area of music that isn’t journalism, do you ever see yourself leaving the world of writing behind altogether?

JH: I don’t know that I could ever walk away. When I closed Popwreckoning, I had every intention of being done. That hiatus ended up lasting about 30 days because I missed the field. The lifestyle of the industry because a really big part of you. When you walk away, you leave behind a lot of people you interact with on a daily basis. It has a bit of a family aspect to it.

H: You write about and work with a lot of young talent. Where do you look when hoping to discover new music?

JH: This is the most addicting part of music journalism though in my opinion. I live to find the next big thing. I spend a lot of time digging through the internet for hidden gems. I use to do this with myspace when things first started. That has now shifted to bandcamp and soundcloud. You have to sift through a lot of really bad music, but when you find that one band that is gold, it feels amazing.

H: What are the most common mistakes you see young artists making when attempting to market themselves?

JH: I think there are times that a young band is too excited about their release or show and come off pushy. While it is really important to get the word out about your product, you have to be careful to not annoy your target audience. It is very important to remember that you are not the only band in the world and that the people you are emailing are often very busy people. If you piss them off they’re going to skip right over you and move on to the next band in line.

H: Piracy is one of the most discussed topic in the industry today. Do you feel album leaks are preventable? If so, how would you advise an artist to keep their music safe while still getting the word out?

JH: When servicing an album we’re trying to keep from leaking, we use Haulix as a safety tool. I love the ability to long lead the album in stream form, the reissue a download closer to release. I think taking the careful steps to protect it is key. Leaks are going to happen and I’m not sure the is a 100 percent way to keep it from happening, but taking caution is a good step in diminishing the occurrences.

H: When it comes to receiving music for feature consideration, which services do you prefer and why?

JH: I have become a huge fan of downloads. Early on, I wanted everything I reviewed to be sent in hardcopy. Over time, this became a huge clutter in my home. I have since washed my hands of this process and opted to go all-digital. I buy a new hard drive every year and file my music away digitally. While it has some drawbacks, it has cut down on a lot of waste.

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

JH: In an idealistic way, I would change the way artists are treated. I personally think they deserve more from the labels and industry. Without their product the music industry wouldn’t exist at all. So reward them. This penny on the dollar payout mentality is heartbreaking to watch. While I understand music is a business, I have no respect for anyone who is blatantly taking advantage of the talents of others for extreme profit.

If I could, I would balance that out a bit.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.