There are several different definitions for the job of music editor. In journalism, the work of a music editor is primarily to review various musical compositions and provide a written review or commentary. A music editor typically has completed formal education or training in music, either at a college or university level. Employment opportunities for a music editor include reviewing music for a music publication company, magazine or website or working on the composition of new music.
The primary responsibility of a music editor can be divided into three broad categories: attending musical performances, writing articles and reviews and providing consultative services. The types of musical performances that a music editor can be expected to attend are widely varied, depending on the local music scene. Many music editors cover a large city or area and might be reviewing musical theater, classical music, jazz or the local band scene. The ability to review this wide range of genres requires a combination of an open mind and objectivity. All music genres have technical and performance-related elements that are the source of enjoyment to the listener. The editor must know what these key elements are, identify them and rate them.
The music editor can be part of a larger music and performing arts review department or might be the only person assigned to cover music for a larger newspaper or magazine. In a large department, the music editor might be responsible for managing two or three writers who are actually attending the musical performances. He or she is then focused primarily on assigning tasks, editing the writers' submissions, checking facts and ensuring a consistent voice carried into the published work. Music editors for smaller publications might be responsible for writing all of the articles and reviews.
Music editors often expand their roles into a consultative business after several years of work in an editorial role. He or she might focus on a specific type of music or specialized in performance or stage presence. The skill set that is required to become a music editor provides an enhanced ability to provide professional advice to performers on stage presence, technique and the audience's experience.
In order to qualify for a position as a music editor, the candidate typically is expected to have a portfolio of work or list of professional musicians with whom he or she has worked. This work does not necessarily have to be as a music editor but might be in the music publication industry or related field. This role is not an entry-level position but one that requires a minimum of five years of working experience in a related position.
In film and television, the music editor's job is to put together and edit the music for a production soundtrack. He or she is also typically responsible for creating the temporary score or "temp track," which can help set the tone during production. The editor also synchronizes the music to the final picture.