ASU journalism students pursue love of music with new club
Journalism freshman Phoenix Carlton lives for music.
He's in the process of creating a new student organization, Journalists Association of Music, that combines his major and his long history as a musician and music connoisseur.
“I’ve always really enjoyed just reading about other musicians, writing about them (and) making music,” he said. “So, I came here and realized that there was no organization that was dedicated to reviewing music.”
As an avid reader of music reviews and an “underground” music savant, Carlton said he realized that those who enter the world of music reviewing often earn a bad reputation for their sharp reviews of upcoming musicians.
The world of music reviewing needs a good tweaking from the next generation of music-loving journalists, Carlton said.
“I wanted to revamp the whole idea and give a good name to people who want to get into this,” he said.
Carlton said he realizes the importance of music to his generation. Music has become somewhat omnipresent in today’s society. Instead of wanting to report on politics or business, he said he wants to report on something that truly matters to him and to many like him.
“Music is huge because we have so many different mediums for us to get into to find new music,” Carlton said. “People are always interested in finding what’s new, what’s cutting-edge, what’s underground, what’s going to be popular and as far as that goes, that can really be ascertained through good journalism and people that really know how to write about music that’s not really ‘out there’ yet.”
Ultimately, he wants to stay true to his passion: music. Carlton said there are several existing music review websites that have become too superficial. He would even consider starting his own music review website to inform music aficionados about the up and coming beats of all genres.
“I definitely think the Internet is the best place to translate a lot of this information, because kids these days are so technologically savvy,” he said.
When Carlton decided he wanted to start J.A.M., he sought out the help of his fellow students. He went to the Cronkite Student Organization Night and pitched his idea to other students. He learned that he needed to get approval from student government, get sponsorship from a professor and have at least five to 10 students interested in joining the club. Carlton has written the mission statement and has gotten a few people involved in the organization.
Carlton is still spreading the word about J.A.M. and is steadily gaining a following. Journalism sophomore Nick Way has already shown his support and enthusiasm for making J.A.M. a reality.
After meeting Carlton in Spanish class, Way realized that he had found a fellow music enthusiast and jumped on the J.A.M. bandwagon.
“It wasn’t so much that we had similar music tastes, it was the fact that we both had very broad music tastes,” Way said. “I seriously just gave him my iPod and he skimmed through it. It was cool. We clicked over music, and I think that’s kind of how this is going to be too."
Way is still not sure what sort of journalism he wants to pursue after graduation, but he does know that he will write about what is important to him.
“I want to do something because I like it, or I want to write about something because I want to write about it,” he said. “It sounds so cliché, but when you think about it, that’s something that you need to do, otherwise that’s how you get writer’s block. That’s how you lose your ambition, if you’re not doing something you really enjoy.”
Way said most journalists write about sports, politics or business. None of those fields interest him as much as music does. Way said he feels that music connects and compels people and is something that can touch people on a deep, personal level.
“I feel like we have all had those moments where we are driving and ‘our song’ comes on the radio,” Way said. “Hearing a song that really just makes you feel something … that right there is why it’s important. Music is noise, but it is beautiful noise.”
Fully acknowledging the extreme impact other news topics such as politics have on people, Way said he would still prefer to write about music. He feels like music is something that the people can control, whereas politics are more removed from his own sphere of influence.
“I would love to talk about politics if I felt there was something I could do about that,” Way said. “Music is just so constant. … We have been making music since the dawn of man, and there is something beautiful about that. I feel like it’s something I can write about. I feel like in today’s day and age, the government is something that’s so over my head that I feel like it’s out of the hands of the people,” he continued.
Other members of J.A.M. agree with Carlton and Way about the importance of good music journalism. Journalism freshman Tyler Beemer believes that music is universal.
“Music is something that I feel everyone can enjoy, and I can express my own opinions on music as well as give artists an opportunity to shed light on what they want to have the audience take away from their music,” Beemer said.
Reach the reporter at Stewart.Stewart@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @Melissa152163