Blogger Spotlight: Meghin Moore (Modern Vinyl)

As someone who has given nearly a decade of their life to the world of music journalism I am constantly on the hunt to find those who will populate the next generation of music writers. My hope is that by sharing their stories here on this blog we can bring the kind of awareness and support to their efforts I never had myself, and I like to think that so far we have accomplished that in one way or another. I know I have found numerous new voices to love and follow since launching our Blogger Spotlight series, and I sincerely hope you feel the same. There are many talented writers out there, but most never come across anyone willing to shout their praises from the rooftop. I guess in a way singing their praise has become part of my job, and today I want to introduce you to one young woman with a blindingly bright future in music you won’t soon forget.

Meghin Moore does not have a site of her own. So far, Meghin has played the contributor role at a number of popular blogs, most notably lead by her time at Modern Vinyl. I came across Meghin’s work earlier this month while researching some young pop punk bands, and I was immediately taken back by her strong interview skills. It’s rare to see someone just starting out who understands that artists hate to be asked the same silly questions every time they get a microphone shoved into their face, and from what I have seen Meghin has made a very clear effort to be anything but what people might expect. Her interviews with bands range from personal to silly, with questions of inspiration appearing alongside those inquiring about donut preferences. Through it all Meghin maintains a fun, yet serious tone that really engages the reader, as well as the artists she is speaking to. 

I knew right away we needed to have Meghin on our blog, and lucky for us she was willing to answer some of our questions. You can find highlights from our conversation below.

H: To help us begin, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself, as well as the outlets you have contributed to so far.

MM: I’m Meghin Moore. Currently, I’m living in Fredericksburg, Virginia, nestled between D.C. and Richmond, which are two cities I absolutely love. I’m also the interview lady over at Modern Vinyl, where I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary with them! Before that, I wrote for a very little site based out of Seattle called Hiibye, which helped me go from a “news reporter” train of thought over to one of a “music journalist.”

I graduated from Penn State back in 2013 with a degree in broadcast journalism. I wrote for the student-run news organization, Onward State, during my junior and senior years. During my time with them, I interned at WTOP, a wonderful news station based in Washington, D.C., where I spent a lot of time writing for the radio station’s website. When I was a freshman at Penn State, I briefly wrote for ForTheSound, but I stopped because I put more of a focus on academics and athletics over everything else that first year.

H: I’m told you’re still relatively new to the world of writing. Can you tell us how you initially got your start in music journalism?

MM: Yeah, I’m still getting the hang of things, and I know there’s a lot I still have to learn. In order for me to talk about my start in music journalism, I need to go back to my middle school roots, where I was constantly talking about new bands I discovered and how I wanted to share that information with my friends. I’ve always wanted to work in the journalism field, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gone through various phases. Initially, I wanted to be a television news anchor. That phase lasted from my later elementary school years through my sophomore year of college. I shifted gears a little, stuck with the broadcast route, but was considering international reporting. That phase didn’t last very long, because I fell in love with the world of web writing and digital media.

Throughout all of that, my friends and family told me that with my love of music, as well as my love of blogging, I should look into music journalism. While I love paying attention to the news, and still have that yearning to go out and be a reporter of some sort, I always keep coming back to music journalism. It’s a little weird how that works. It’s something I’ve been looking into over the past year, and I’d say I’m fairly happy with where it’s taking me!

H: Speaking of your origins in music writing, can you tell us where your inspiration to write stems from?

MM: My inspiration stems from my journalism experience. When I interview a band, I tend to ask some fairly unconventional questions, and that’s because I want to know about stories that bands and artists might not normally talk about in interviews. I blend my journalism teachings in with a hint of creativity, just to mix things up a bit.

With that said, I grew up reading magazines like Rolling Stone and Alternative Press, as well as various music-related websites. I also watched MTV News religiously as a kid, back when there was more of a focus on music on that channel. I’d say some of my inspiration comes from writers at those outlets, such as Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield and Matt Taibbi, MTV News’ Kurt Loder, as well as Alternative Press’ Annie Zaleski, to name just a few. I also grew up listening to the AP Podcast, which has also inspired me over the years.

H: As for music, who were your early favorites? Most people don’t get into music unless someone or some group my a big impact on their childhood/teen years.

MM: This is a really tough question for me to answer, because I’ve been surrounded by music for as long as I can remember. I could end up writing a novel about this! My earliest music memory is going through tapes and tapes of The Lion King soundtrack. Ultimately, my mom decided it was time for me to stop ruining cassettes, and bought it for me as a CD. Later on in the 90s, I would play CDs by Aqua, the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, *NSYNC and other boy bands, as the pop music craze really sucked me in. I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have a tape player, a CD player, or even an iPod with me, just to keep music with me as I traveled to and from school. When I was a fifth grader, my backpack was filled with more CDs than anything else for me to listen to on the bus. As I got older, my tastes started to become more refined. In middle school, I was introduced to The Get Up Kids and Dashboard Confessional by my father, who bought A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar and Guilt Show because he thought I’d like them, and because he liked their album art. Jack’s Mannequin (and all of Andrew McMahon’s projects) has been one of my favorite bands, which pretty much catapulted me into what I listen to now, as a 24-year-old. I’d say that my 7th/8th grade years had an immensely huge impact on me, and that 2005 was a pivotal year for me, both musically, as well as in terms of my personal life. Even today it’s hard for me to pick favorites; it’s a constantly rotating list.

H: I first came across your work when you interviewed Well Kept Things for our friends at Modern Vinyl. Have you had the opportunities to conduct many interviews at this point in your writing career?

MM: I have! Writing for Modern Vinyl has been great, because I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some wonderful artists and industry folk. The ones I’ve done for MV have been a lot of fun. Admittedly, I know my interviewing skills could use some work, but I’m constantly learning about what works and what doesn’t. I think that writing for Onward State, taking a plethora of hands-on broadcast journalism classes at Penn State, as well as being an on-camera personality for my school district’s news program during my high school days have helped my interview skills.

H: Do you enjoy interviews, or is there another style of writing/feature you prefer to create?

MM: Interviewing is great. I’ve always been full of questions, and I love being able to have some sort of dialogue with people. One of the best things about interviewing is actually getting to hear a narrative of sorts from the artist’s mouth. It’s always fascinating to hear tour tales, their history and whatever else they have to say. It’s also great when artists talk about social justice issues plaguing the scene today, and try to help open up that dialogue within their interview.

I guess besides interviews, I like creating playlists, and to an extent, lists. I don’t do many of those as often as I do interviews, but when I do create those pieces, I tend to pour a whole lot of creativity and thought into them; almost as much as my interview questions!

H: When it comes to piecing together materials for artist features, what kind of research do you do?

MM: I put a lot of research into what features I put together. I scour the Internet for their social media accounts, just to see what’s going on there. If I’m not familiar with an artist, I listen to as much of their music as I can. I try to take a step further than is probably necessary, and look at other interviews they’ve done, especially the more recent ones, just to make sure that I’m not asking something that they constantly get asked. Sometimes it can get a little banal and repetitive to have to answer the same question over and over again; people who follow the band want to see new questions answered. I try to make features a bit personal as well, bringing in any interesting tidbits I find on their social media accounts if I can; one of the most recent examples of this is in my interview with Well Kept Things, where their only interest on their band Facebook page is Paula’s Donuts –obviously I’ve got to ask them about that!

H: Without taking into consideration the time spent writing a feature, which I know can run the gamut from minutes to hours or even days, how much time would you say typically goes into the features you create?

MM: It really does depend. I’ve cranked out some features in a few hours, while it’s taken days for other ones. I don’t want to throw something out there haphazardly. I think a lot of the time that I take when creating features is based on me double and triple-checking it over and over again, and going through and making sure that I’ve picked out any errors before it goes live. It helps to have some great editors who help me out, and I’m really thankful to have Chris Lantinen and James Cassar on my team. They’ve been extremely helpful.

If you add in the time that I research a band for a feature, that will change things as well. If I’m familiar with a band, it doesn’t take as long, but if I’m not familiar with a band, that can take at least a few hours to go through and listen to what they’ve got out there. It’s just hard to put a specific figure on something like this, because it starts to all blend together and I’ve always been bad with numbers.

H: Your dedication to creating quality work is evident in everything I’ve seen so far, but knowing how blogging works I assume you are not getting paid for the hours logged. Passion doesn’t pay the bills, so why do you continue working so hard?

MM: Passion doesn’t pay the bills, yes, but it can lead to bigger and better opportunities in the future…at least that’s what I keep telling myself. I’ve been job searching since I graduated for my first “big” journalism career, and it’s been rough at times, especially since the world of journalism can be so competitive. I keep working so hard because I know that one day, my hard work will get noticed, and I’ll gain more recognition and start to kick things off from there. The other reason why I keep working so hard is because it keeps me busy. If I’m not off working on a Modern Vinyl piece, or even figuring out how to tweak my resume for the umpteenth time, I tend to lose focus and fall into a rut. Staying busy helps keep me happy and focused.

H: If writing about music could be a launching pad that helped you get into another industry endeavor, what other areas of the business would interest you?

MM: Honestly? I don’t know. With my background in broadcast journalism, podcasting would be cool, or even hosting or working with a radio show at some point. I’ve always been fascinated with the music industry itself, but never really put a lot of thought about what I’d get into if writing about music was a launching pad. I think it’d be cool to go into PR, and actually work with bands to get press releases out and to coordinate things. Like I said, there’s still a lot I need to learn about the inner workings of the industry, but just thinking about a future in it keeps me optimistic.

H: What would you say is the greatest lesson you have learned about the music industry from your time writing about it?

MM: It’s a lot darker than I initially thought it was, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s not as easy to break into. As a woman, I know I’m eventually going to run into issues like many others before me have dealt with, and that thought terrifies me. Sexism, misogyny and sexual assault/harassment are still hugely problematic, and unfortunately, I had a brush with it at Warped Tour as a teenager. Now that I’m at the age of being a twentysomething, I’ve realized that shows, festivals and concerts really need to be safe places, no matter where they are. Sadly, I’ve read stories of women who have experienced similar issues while actually working in the industry. It’s really discouraging, and one day, I’m hoping to see a bigger change emerge in the scene. Respect is key here. Respect people, and they’ll respect you back.

H: If you could offer one piece of advice to those just now considering a career in music or music writing, what would you say?

MM: To someone just now considering a career in music, or even as a music journalist, I would say do what makes you happy. It shouldn’t matter what other people think of your work. If  you’re absolutely happy with it, and have a lot of passion, don’t let that stop you from going after what you want! There’s always going to be people out there who don’t want to see you succeed, and people out there who will criticize your every move just to try to break you down. Don’t let anybody get to you; just follow your passion. I guess that’s two pieces of advice, but they really go hand-in-hand with each other.

H: If we fast-forward to one year from now, where do you see yourself?

MM: It’s hard to predict where I’ll see myself a year from now, but I do see myself loving what I do and continuing to write about music as a side project. No matter where I end up, I know that this music thing is still definitely going be in the picture. It’s something that’s just stuck with me for years, and I don’t see that going away any time soon unless something drastic happens that completely turns me off of it.

H: What is the biggest obstacle you face right now in your professional life, and what are you doing to overcome it?

MM: The biggest obstacle is actually finding and holding down a nine-to-five job; something that can support and hopefully advance my music writing. As I mentioned earlier, I’m stubborn, and my job search has been filled with more disappointment than I initially thought it would be. I’m two-and-a-half years out of college, and I’ll be honest, it’s been a rough, rocky journey for me. I’m trying my hardest to actually get myself out there, to find a great job in the journalism industry. I’ve been working on my resume, I’ve been trying to figure out how to write better cover letters, but at the same time, I’m trying not to let my disappointment in my search finally get to me and break me down. I feel like the biggest obstacle in this is also my lack of proper experience. It goes into that cycle of finding a job, only to get rejected because you don’t have enough experience or the experience that someone’s really looking for, but to get experience is hard because nobody wants to hire you.

H: I think that is all I have for now. Before I let you go, is there anything else you would like to add?

MM: I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer some of these really insightful questions. They really made me think! I’d also like to thank Chris and James (again) for being absolutely awesome editors, and letting me be a part of the Modern Vinyl family. The past year has just been incredible by working with the site, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the site.

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.