Amanda Cook is the Editor-in-chief of I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. She is also a flutist, educator, editor, writer, and music critic living in Boston.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I have always had an affinity for writing, which was somewhat peculiar for a professional classical musician in training. As I pursued my graduate degrees in music (I earned my doctorate in flute performance in 2016), I realized I wanted to make writing a significant part of the way I interact with the music community.
In the fall of 2013, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN tweeted out a call for new contributors, and I began reviewing albums for the publication shortly thereafter. After a few years of working as a contributing writer, the founder and then editor-in-chief Thomas Deneuville reached out to me to see if I would be interested in stepping into the role of associate editor. This meant not only working with our writers on content, but also learning more about digital publishing. I was confident in my ability to help people with their writing, but I knew next to nothing about digital publishing, so it was a great learning opportunity.
This past summer, Thomas decided that a transition of the editor-in-chief role was best for the sustainability of the publication. I am thrilled to be continuing the work that he has started, and I feel fortunate to be connected to an outlet that combines my passions for writing and contemporary music. I still have a lot to learn, but I am excited to jump into this next chapter.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is a completely volunteer-run publication, so the time I spend working on it happens around my full-time job as an arts administrator. Fortunately, I don’t go to work until later in the day, so this gives me a decent amount of time during the week to dedicate to ICIYL.
During the week, I wake up around 7:30 am, brew a pot of coffee, and get working on ICIYL. Daily tasks include checking up on our editorial calendar, answering emails, sifting through press releases for new stories, touching base with publicists and my writers, providing editorial feedback on submitted articles, and prepping articles for publication. I usually get about 3 hours of work in before I need to leave for my job. I get home from work in time for a late dinner, possibly answer a few emails or prep a last minute article submission, then (try to) close my laptop by 10:00 pm.
I work on Saturdays, so this is usually my day off from ICIYL. On Sundays, I schedule content, share the schedule with the team, and make a to-do list for the week ahead.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I do all of my work on my MacBook Pro, and I always have my iPhone with me. Most of my day-to-day work is done in WordPress, and we have the Edit Flow widget installed to help keep track of content in different stages of preparation for publication. Our operations team uses a number of apps to keep us organized: Producteev for tracking articles in progress and our weekly schedule, and Slack for team communications. I also have a Postbox account for the ICIYL editor email address with special filters set up to keep myself organized.
WHAT DO YOU TO GET INSPIRED?
As an editor, I find I don’t have to actively do anything to “get inspired.” I am passionate about contemporary music and the people making it, and I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position where I am able to work with this community and make a positive impact.
As a writer, if I’m having a day where I’m moving slowly or feeling stuck, I do something mundane like take a shower, wash the dishes, or clean my apartment. I am a firm believer in the concept of the shower epiphany—I usually get some of my best ideas when I simply let my mind relax and wander.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
I’ve never been one for quotes, and naturally as a musician, “written piece” makes me think written a piece of music, though I don’t think I could pick a favorite one of those, either! Different things resonate with me at different times—it’s all situational.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
I have a lot of respect for the people behind VAN Music Magazine. Like I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, they are an independent online publication, so they have a certain sense of autonomy that is really appealing to a reader. On their website, they say they are interested in “the bizarre and the taboo, in conflict, strong personalities and radical points of view,” and their content demonstrates that they are definitely not afraid to publish unfiltered provocative content.
WHAT’S THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
I am cautiously optimistic about what seems to be a shifting tide regarding sexual harassment. I was recently outraged to hear Andris Nelsons, the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, claim on Boston Public Radio that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in classical music—because, like any field, it certainly does. I tweeted about it, and it opened the floodgates. Eventually, it got picked up by the Boston Globe, and the BSO/Nelsons had to retract the statement. It felt pretty amazing to see that a single person really can effect change from simply speaking their mind.
So obviously I’m passionate about women’s issues, but more broadly, I want I CARE IF YOU LISTEN to become a leading advocate for people who have been underrepresented in classical music—women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA community. I think it is important to provide a platform for the voices of artists who have been historically marginalized, so I am aggressively steering the content on our site in this direction.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Find a topic you love and start putting content online, even if it’s just a personal blog. It’s easier to connect with other outlets/writers/publishers who are more established if you can send them a link to examples of your work.