About two-thirds of SOS is written by freelance authors, and we’re always on the lookout for new writers.
Most of our freelancers are not professional journalists. They’re engineers, producers, musicians and music technology obsessives. People like you, in fact. So, if you’ve always dreamed of seeing your words in print, get in touch!
There are three main types of article within SOS: Reviews, Workshops and Features.
We review music and recording software and hardware, synthesizers, keyboards, live sound equipment and some guitar gear. Typically, manufacturers will send us loan equipment, which we place with an author for the time it takes to test and write a review. We’ll agree a deadline and a word count with you. You’ll test the gear and describe your experience honestly and in full. The gear is then shipped back to the manufacturer (sorry).
To write an SOS review, you’ll need to be able to evaluate all the major functions of the gear you’re testing. You’ll need the language skills to present the results of those tests in an engaging and digestible fashion. You’ll also need the background knowledge to explain what else is out there and how it compares.
If you’re interested in doing this, the best thing to do is to approach one of our Reviews Editors directly. It will help if you can give them an idea of your experience and your areas of expertise. Links to anything similar you’ve written in the past are also useful, though not essential.
- Matt Houghton (email@example.com) is the Reviews Editor in charge of studio hardware and plug-in effects.
- David Glasper (firstname.lastname@example.org) handles reviews of software and hardware synths, sample libraries and DAW software.
- Chris Korff (email@example.com) takes care of microphone, loudspeaker and live sound equipment.
A final word about reviews: we value our reputation for integrity and impartiality above everything else, so it’s vital that you declare any potential conflict of interest. For example, if you work for a manufacturer, your expertise will make you a valuable author in some areas, but it would not be appropriate for you to review your own or competitors’ products.
‘How to’ articles within SOS can span a huge range of topics, from miking up a harp to programming dubstep leads to optimising Windows for recording. We have the ability to integrate audio examples online and in our tablet issue, and we like to do this where we can.
SOS workshops can address different skill levels, from near-beginner to expert. There’s room for articles with a detailed focus on a single product as well as workshops that explain universal techniques. Bear in mind that the primary goal of an SOS workshop is to help readers improve their own skills. This means that we prefer workshops to have a practical, hands-on focus. It also means that rather than simply describing your own experiences or methods, you need to be able to generalise from these. We’d love to hear your ideas!
Once again, the first port of call should be to email one of the Reviews Editors mentioned above. If, for instance, you have a great idea for a workshop on synth programming, David Glasper would be the person to contact.
As far as SOS is concerned, a feature is pretty much anything that’s not a review or a workshop. That includes all of our interviews with artists, producers and engineers, but also historical articles and theoretical pieces like our explanation of how Audio over IP works. The key to a successful feature is a strong and timely theme. For instance, we’re much more likely to green-light an interview with your favourite producer if they have a high-profile new release to talk about.
Where an artist or producer is a global superstar, their high profile alone can justify an interview. In other cases we look for an additional angle: perhaps there’s something particularly interesting about the way an album was recorded, for example. Outside of our Classic Tracks strand, we look primarily for features that are focused on new music, and on artists and producers who are making waves now. We’re happy to consider features relating to any genre, and we regularly print articles about live sound as well as recorded music. However, it would be unusual for us to publish articles on broadcast or post-production topics.
If you have any killer feature ideas you’d like to suggest, contact SOS Editor In Chief Sam Inglis (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll take it from there.
A particularly good starting point for new writers is our Why I Love column, where you can share your passion for anything from patchbays to plug-ins. We’re looking for 500-600 words on any aspect of music or recording that has a special place in your heart, no matter how small.
Payment & Copyright
SOS pays freelance authors on a competitive word rate. Once the article has been edited and published, you’ll receive an invoice request detailing the word count and any other payable items such as diagrams or audio examples. You can then send an invoice for this sum.
Publication and payment are, of course, conditional on the article being suitable for publication. Our editors are very good at working with authors to revise and improve submitted articles, but on rare occasions we do have to turn down articles on quality grounds, in which case no payment will be made.
Copyright in articles we publish resides with SOS, and we reserve the right to republish in other formats without further payment. You will not be able to republish the same article in print or online with another English-language publication or on your own blog/website.
Style & Substance
Your article will be edited and proof-read before it makes it into print, so don’t worry about adhering to detailed style guidelines. However, you can earn bonus points from our production staff by writing your own captions, crossheads and introductions (stand-firsts), and by researching relevant prices and contact details yourself. It’s essential that all but the shortest reviews include pros, cons and a line or two of summary. Depending on the article, we may also expect you to supply photos or screen captures. And feel free to seek advice from editorial staff about how to structure and style your writing.
The very best way to learn how to write the sort of articles we’re looking for is to read the magazine!
We look forward to hearing from you.
Editor In Chief