Blogger Spotlight: Drew Millard (Noisey)

Hello and welcome to the final Blogger Spotlight of the week. We would not say we saved the best for last, but the person highlighted in this feature is certainly one-of-a-kind. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

A lot of the sites and bloggers we have featured up to this point are known for writing about specific areas of music. Many are rock bloggers, but one or two have been known for their efforts in pop and/or hip-hop as well. Drew Millard, the man at the center of today’s feature, is actually known for being a critic of music in general.

It’s hard to summarize the world of Vice entertainment for people who have never encountered their journalism tactics, but an incredibly simple explanation would be to say they print all the news other outlets often shy away from. This extends to their music publication, Noisey, which is where Drew Millard can be found grinding away day-to-day. He’s the feature editor for the site, and earlier this week he took a few minutes from his busy schedule to speak about life at one of the world’s most unique entertainment outlets. You can find his thoughts on writing, as well as where he sees himself headed in the future, below.

If you would like to learn more about Drew and his efforts to keep Noisey amongst the most interesting music publications worldwide, we highly recommend taking the time to follow both him and the site on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

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H: To get us started, would you please tell everyone your name, job title, and the publication that keeps you employed: 

D: My name is Drew Turner Millard. I am the Features Editor of Noisey, the music vertical of VICE Magazine. I am six feet tall and live in Brooklyn. I am currently wearing a fitted hat, a white t-shirt, and a pair of leggings (if you’re a dude are you supposed to call them “leggings?” Or is it “tights?” Ore are you just not supposed to talk about it?) under a pair of large Addidas basketball shorts under a pair of large Addidas sweatpants. It is very cold.

H: Thanks again for taking part in this interview, Drew. It’s great to have you. I’m curious, when did you first begin to take an interest in the world of music journalism?

D: I started writing about music in college, where I DJ’d and studied creative writing. I got into music writing because I had no other marketable (lol) skills (lolol). Please do not follow my example. 

H: Was music always a major influence in your life, or is it something you grew to appreciate as a teen (or even later in life)?

D: One of my first memories is breaking my face falling on a gigantic wooden box speaker while dancing to The Beatles. Insert meaning here, I guess. 

H: Who was the first artist you can remember obsessing over, and how did you initially discover them? 

D: I hated the Postal Service when they were cool, does that count? 

H: A lot of the people we speak with pursued other areas of interest in the music business before finding a home in journalism. Some were in bands, others worked publicity. Did you have any roles in music before becoming a writer? 

D: Currently, I DJ (poorly), and in college the singer in a hardcore band whose primary influences were Minor Threat and Four Loko when it still had caffeine in it. 

H: The earliest work from you I have been able to fin online comes from Kill Screen. Did you have any experience writing online before you joined that site?

D: Kill Screen was my first opportunity to write for an audience larger than my family and friends. I’ve had blogs since I was about 14 or so, but fortunately I deleted them after I became horrified by them.

H: What initially lead you to apply for the Kill Screen team, and what can you tell us about your experiences with the site as a whole?

D: I guess I applied to Kill Screen because I’d just moved to New York, I was fresh out of college, and I was thirsty for experience. As far as I know, the personnel over there has turned around significantly, but interning at KS was seriously the most important thing I did in my development as a writer of things that some people do not hate. Shout out Jamin and Ryan and Tom and Yannick. Shout out videogames. Shout out that time I interviewed Dorrough about his iPad. 

H: Outside of full time roles, you’ve done a lot of freelance work over the years. When did you first begin freelance writing, and who was the first outlet to pay you for your work? 

D: The first outlet to pay me for my work was Time Out NY, who let me do a full-page feature on A$AP Rocky where he told me to google “how they treat chickens." 

H: While we’re on the topic of building a name for yourself in the world of entertainment writing, what advice would you offer aspiring professionals considering a career in music criticism?

D: I’d say try to focus not on criticism, but journalism. If you’re just starting out, you’re probably not an expert on shit, so it’s best to not act like one. I’ve found (through, unfortunately, a lot of trial and error) it’s best to ask people who know what they’re talking about on a certain subject to offer insight and criticism rather than trying to bullshit it yourself. Eventually, you’ll learn things, and those things will allow you to say smart things about other things.

H: You joined the Noisey team in October 2012. What can you tell us about the application process? 

D: You enter a dark room. They tell you to stick your hand in a bowl and say it’s full of brains and eyeballs, but it’s actually just cold spaghetti and grapes with the skin peeled off. If you don’t scream, you get the job.

H: Without going too in-depth, please run us through a typical day at work:

D: Arrive. Red bull. Blog post. Water. Edit feature. Peen. Snack. Blog post. Post feature. Emails. Hide from twitter.

H: When people ask you what kind of content they will find on Noisey, how do you respond? It’s certainly not your typical music blog.

D: I think at this point, people sort of know us as the weird cousin of the music blog community. This is probably my fault, because I’m super fucking crazy.

H: Noisey has been known to run some pretty outrageous editorials. Have you received any pitches in recent months that were too ‘out there’ even for your audience?

D: One time a kid pitched me on a profile of Noisey itself, that was pretty dumb. Usually pitches I turn down aren’t dumb enough.

H: On that note, are you currently looking to add any contributors to the Noisey team? If so, how should people go about contacting you?

 D: Unfortunately, Noisey currently is not seeking new contributors. 

H: When it comes to receiving music for review/feature consideration, which distribution platforms do you prefer and why?

D: I honestly sort of prefer physical releases, because I hate computers and I hate clicking on things. I’m not gonna lie though, Haulix is pretty dope as far as online distribution methods go. I feel like half the time people upload stuff to SoundCloud and it’s supposed to be private or maybe a public stream of a track from a private album they can’t figure out how to do it right and then suddenly they just leaked their whole album. Which is unchill. People should pay for music.

H: Beyond paychecks and analytics, how do you measure your personal success?

D: I just got off the phone with Plies. Talking to Plies on the phone has always been my measure of personal success. I now consider myself successful. 

H: What are your current career goals?

D: Changing the game and then getting the fuck out. 

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

D: Actual, serious answer: reconcile the need for artists to make a living wage through making the music they want to (not licensing or whatever), with the internet’s demand for free music. Streaming services such as Spotify and Beats Music and Panshark or whatever are good starts, but they only solve the part of the equation where people aren’t outright stealing music. I have friends who are musicians, and $5 royalty checks from services like these are considered normal. That’s fucked up! 

H: Okay, I think that covers everything. Before I let you go, would you like to share any final thoughts or observations with our readers?

D: You should follow @BauceSauce on twitter. And listen to Mariah Carey’s Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, it’s really good.

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.