Contributors’ guidelines

Enjoy listening to music and want to share your experiences with others? Then come and join us in this new venture. Please contact us at editor@sitdownlistenup.com. Put “Editorial Submission” in the subject line. Documents should be sent in MS Word format. Please allow up to two weeks for a response. With your first submission, please tell us a little bit about yourself. Once we agree to publish your initial post, we will send you a Writer’s Agreement. After you sign and return it and we publish your first post, we will add you to the site as an Author and you will then be able to add your posts directly.

Do I have to be a writer or musician?

Most of our writers are not musicians, just music lovers. As you will see from reading the current reviews and essays, there is a great deal of diversity in writing style. We are not looking for cookie-cutter reviews, but rather pieces that provide a sense of the writer’s unique take on things. If you don’t think you have the chops to write for us, we suggest you get a copy of How to Write About Music: Excerpts from the 33 1/3 Series, Magazines, Books and Blogs with Advice from Industry-leading Writers.

What should the focus of the post be?

As our name implies, we want our contributors to sit down and listen up to an album all the way through — with no distractions — before writing about it. We are not looking for standard-issue record reviews. Those are easier to find than ever. Instead, we want our contributors to think about what it is about this recording that leads to a connection for them. Our ultimate intention is intriguing readers into hearing it for themselves, so a good post will offer a strong sense of what the music sounds like. 

Is there a required theme?

Every month, we have a suggested theme. We encourage contributors to write about albums that fit with those. However, there is no requirement to do so, and we also have a catch-all theme, What’s Moving Me, that can be used for any album they are grooving to at the moment.

Does the album have to be currently available?

Given our stated intention, we strive to expose our readers to music that they can hear for themselves. In rare cases, we will publish a review of an out-of-print album, but we will ask the writers to suggest other titles that are still available that can give readers a taste of what they are talking about.

How much of a commitment must I make?

While we are hoping to recruit at least 10 contributors who commit to providing at least one post per month, you do not have to commit to a regular schedule. If you can post at least once a month, however, we encourage you to post on the theme of the month (found on our Editorial Calendar).

How long should the posts be?

500 to 1,000 words each.

Do I have to listen to records?

That would be nice, but it is not necessary or expected. CDs, computer downloads, iPod or phone with headphones – as long as the contributor focuses only on the album for its duration, the rest is unimportant.

 What additional information should my posts include?

Posts should include the following information: a catchy title, a suggested category, three or four suggested tags (keywords) to help Web searchers find your review, plus the following information:

  • Artist’s name and link to official website
  • Title
  • Year of release (and rerelease if pertinent)
  • Year of first hearing by writer
  • Label of original release (or of release being listened to, if different)
  • A link to the appropriate page on AllMusic.com that offers a track listing
  • A link to a YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc., of one of the tracks discussed, if available

 What if I have something bigger than a single album that I want to write about?

That’s where our essays come in. In 1,000 to 2,000 words, contributors will tackle a “big picture” idea. Essays will not be assigned but instead are welcome from any contributor at any time. Essays fall into several categories, including the following:

  • Deep Thoughts: Puzzling out some mystery concerning music, sound and formats: Does vinyl always sound better than digital? Are deluxe editions really worth the money? Is a phone all you need to enjoy the music?
  • Give Me Five: Short takes on five things in one category: Five essential albums in a genre; five lesser-known artists that fans of a popular band might enjoy; five movies about music that are worth seeing. (For an example, check out this piece.)
  • The Book I Read: Anything from reflections on a 33-1/3 mini-book to a genre-spanning tome can find a home here.
  • The Art of Listening: Essays that help readers get more from their listening, focusing on techniques, equipment, etc.

Is there a style guide?

Generally speaking, we follow Associated Press style. The one exception is that we will put names of albums in italics and names of songs in quotes. If you plan to write regularly, you should get a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook 2014 if you don’t already own one. Short of that, this offers a quick overview of some key rules, and the section on Music in the Buzzfeed Style Guide is very helpful.

What if I need help editing?

Mark and Thom can handle that, but you will need to upload your posts several days early to ensure they can get to them.

How much does this gig pay?

In the interest of fairness, all contributors will receive the same compensation (a hearty “Thank you!” each time a new post is submitted and occasional craft beers and gourmet desserts). We are exploring ways to monetize the site so we can pay our contributors at least a little something for their work.