06

Mar

The Insiders: Stuart McHugh

Is this the busiest man in music? We bring you part four of our Insider’s guide.

Full name: Stuart McHugh.
Age: n/a ;-)
Home town: Linlithgow.
Job title (1 of 2, see below): Webmaster, Jockrock.org.
How did you get your job? Less a job, more a way of life. Basically I set the website up myself, initially as a way of archiving freelance reviews, interviews and the like, as the magazines they’d been done for were under-read and by then defunct.
Did qualifications or experience help you get your job? No. As I say, the ‘job’ was offered to myself by myself (!) but my only qualification was unrelated to music or writing (in computing, not so you’d notice).
What’s the best part about your job? Occasionally discovering some exciting new band via a demo or a gig.
And the worst? Probably the stuff I can’t achieve. I’m full of ideas on additions to the site and would love to be featuring many of the bands in much more detail, but lack of time and money always get in the way. I get plenty of offers of help but these usually vanish as they’re all of other people’s (in a similar position) time, and they fast realise that they don’t have it to spare after all! 
What’s the biggest misconception about your job? That we’re running a fully-staffed office here who will find the time to listen to every CD that comes in (100+ per week). In reality it’s just me doing everything in evenings and weekends.
Who is the most famous person you’ve met while doing your job? Via Jockrock specifically, probably Jan from Spare Snare, Stephen Pastel, Stevie Jackson or Francis Macdonald… all very indie-schmindie. From my other journalistic work, Chris Martin or John Peel.
How long would it take for someone to be trained to do your job from scratch? One of those ‘piece of string’ questions, really. My writing has always been fairly competent but getting to the level where I can edit down reviews and interviews to something readable and interesting (I hope) has probably been built up over 10 years. But to have someone come in and fill in for me while I went off on a cruise (if only) would only require a command of language plus enthusiasm. That said, they’d never even be able to find a pen in my office. Physically setting up a website now, of course, is stupidly easy (just a blog or a myspace or whatever, it’s all provided). Back in the day – ah, those hours spent coding in early html (which, of course, the site is still based round), bypassing the company network to upload the files on to the (hyper-expensive) domain and space, and then realising that only around three people in the country actually had web access anyway…
Complete this sentence: The amount I make for doing my job is… in minus figures.
Whose music is making you most excited right now? We Were Promised Jetpacks, There Will Be Fireworks, Sixpeopleaway, Y’all Is Fantasy Island, Phantom Band, De Rosa, Hot Club de Paris, Future Of The Left… I could go on.
What’s the next gig in your diary? Probably the Is This Music? show at the 13th note on March 21 with Le Reno Amps, Down The Tiny Steps and Northern Alliance. No, really.
Anything else you’d like to add… Will work for food.

Job title (2 of 2): Editor, Is This Music?
How did you get your job? Got made redundant, worked as a freelancer, freelancing work dried up, decided that the impossible dream of a Scottish-based music monthly was something I should give a shot while I had the time. Simple, eh?
Did qualifications or experience help you get your job? Not in the sense of ‘getting’ the job but experience in writing, and the previous job (in software/publishing) were crucial, not least for the free software.
What’s the best part about your job? Being your own boss, sense of achievement in getting an issue out (I am kind of answering these on the basis of the magazine a year ago rather than now with the website).
And the worst? Having to admit defeat and put the mag online-only, the feeling of letting down the readers who wanted the paper version to continue, and the frustration at not being able to take the mag to the next level, mainly due to the lack of support from the upper-end of the local music industry (i.e. lack of advertising revenue from major promoters, record labels, etc). That and the stress, and lack of sleep. Did you just want one ‘worst’?
What’s the biggest misconception about your job? That the magazine was fully-operational on the level of Plan B, Uncut or even NME. Which should be quite flattering but it was ludicrous to think that with the help of a few freelance writers and a decent designer we could ‘fool’ people into imagining we weren’t just a one-man operation working out of a bedroom in the evenings.
Who is the most famous person you’ve met while doing your job? Have interviewed the likes of Alex Kapranos, Neil Hannon, Pat Nevin, Gary Lightbody for the mag. Depends on your definition of ‘famous’, I guess.
How long would it take for someone to be trained to do your job from scratch? You mean, to get to the level where they could run a successful music magazine? :-) I’ve actually picked up lots of ‘experience’ over the years – mainly in the line of doing everything on a non-existent budget and applying for grants and the like – and learned from my mistakes, so if I was doing the training then considerably less than five years!
Complete this sentence: The amount I make for doing my job is… (see Jockrock answer). Overall it’s losing me money and gets in the way of proper money-earning work if I allow it.
Anything else you’d like to add… Again, I’m now eating into proper work time – filling in surveys beats that any day! So, no, I’ll leave it at that, except for ‘back issues available online now’.

4 We Were Promised Jetpacks – Let’s Call This A Map
4 De Rosa and Michel Faber – Steam Comes Off Our House

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