Ouch That Hertz! is a blog that's dedicated to expose the hidden gems of the music industry. People like being recognized for their hard work and talent, so why not give them the chance at recognition? Not only that, but readers/viewers/listeners can get a chance to find new music! It's a win-win!
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
Hi, I’m Katt Hass! I’m the owner/operator of the music site Ouch That Hertz! and a writer for New Noise Magazine! I’m also a gaffer, an avid reader, an outdoor adventure enthusiast, and a trail-runner. When I’m not at my desk typing, you can generally find me scaling rock walls, running through gorges, leisurely reading in the windowsill, or playing my guitar in the various parks in town. I was born in Michigan and raised on jazz, blues, and folk. If anybody could have told me that I’d soon become deeply invested in all genres- particularly metal and hardcore and its variants- I’d have accused them of lying. But, here I am, passionately writing about exactly that. I now happily reside in New York and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the music media industry!
What drove you to choose your career path?
I love music and have always been heavily involved with and influenced by it. Sounds in particular were always entrancing to me- I love the fact that you can encase a memory or a moment within a series of sounds. I was also a pretty decent writer. My high school teachers and college professors kept pushing me to be a writer, but I never paid that idea much attention until last year. Ouch That Hertz! started as an idea on a sticky note that I tacked on my wall in July of 2014. A month later, I made it a reality. I just started writing. I had this drive and this dream inside of me and I ran with it. And I never stopped. Now I’m here and I can’t wait for what the future holds for me and OTH!
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I have absolutely no prior journalism experience. I’m actually a psychology major with a minor in linguistics! I never took a single journalism course in high school or college and have never previously contributed to any sort of publication. The only thing I do have a background in is in music. I play multiple instruments (harp, guitar, bass, drums, etc.) and multiple styles, so I definitely have an understanding of what I’m looking for when I’m writing about music. But as far as the actual writing of reviews, I just sort of did it. I just started writing about any genre. Down the line, I decided to try my hand at writing about what I consider the toughest genres of music to write about: metal and hardcore. Turns out that something clicked and it spread like wildfire. In a few months, I was receiving emails from bands and PR companies/reps for alternative rock, metalcore, hardcore, and pop-punk bands. It’s kind of crazy how fast things started picking up- I really had no idea that this would ever happen so fast. As for New Noise Magazine (NNM), that job came from networking. Ryan Williford (Imminence Records) introduced me to Tony Shrum via social media. Tony was looking for people to help post content on NNM’s site- an opportunity I instantly jumped at. I emailed Tony right away stating my interest in the job and I also mentioned that I write reviews, so if NNM ever got backed up in reviews, I’d be more than happy to contribute from time to time. He asked me for a sample, I linked him to the Ouch That Hertz! page, and a few hours later I was hired as a writer/reviewer!
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
I spend the majority of my time listening. I’m constantly listening to something no matter where I am, even when I’m scaling rock walls (let me tell you, there is NOTHING like careening off of a cliff edge while listening to progressive metalcore). I even listen to an album while I’m typing its review to make sure that I don’t miss anything in terms of musicality or technicality. I spend a good amount of time in front of a laptop, furiously typing away as I answer emails, write reviews, search for band information, etc. I also spend a good amount of time scouting/scouring bandcamp to search for an artist to write about when I’m not flooded with requests.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
First misconception is that I’m a music snob. Quite the contrary, I am not. If anyone ever has a suggestion for me, I’ll gladly listen to it! Another misconception is that I can get into any event ever and get extra free tickets/passes for people. Even if I could get into any venue of my choice for PR purposes/assignment, it is extremely unprofessional, irresponsible, and also impossible for me to get random people anything extra ever. Sorry guys, you have to buy your own tickets! Another thing that I hear a lot is, “What do you mean you can’t hang out this weekend? Don’t you set your own deadlines? Just push it back a day!” Guys, I have deadlines. Reviews/news/interviews should/need to be posted as soon as possible!
What are your average work hours?
24/7. I never stop listening to an album until I have completed the review or whatever else it is I’m working on.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
I’m fairly new to the industry, so, admittedly, I don’t have a lot of quick tips and tricks to make someone’s writing a “quick success.” Honestly, the best advice I can think of is make friends in the industry. It helps to know other journalists and people in the PR industry. We’re all each other’s resources! If you ever need professional opinions/advice/whatnot, these are your go-to people! And, while you’re writing, don’t just write about “large” bands; write about local/ “smaller” bands, too! Writing about new music from (a) local group(s) in addition to writing about “larger”/”mainstream” bands gives you more of an edge- it means you’re not just writing about what everyone else is writing about. Also, plenty of local groups greatly appreciate any form of press, so you’re doing yourself and other people a huge favor!
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
What do I do differently? Oh, man… I’d like to think that I manage to give a broader and more in-depth look into the music that I’m reviewing. Or, perhaps, that I’m making it more relatable and interesting in a creative way. Then again, I know I’m not the only one with this stylistic choice of analysis. I suppose I’m far too verbose and interested to just write a paragraph about music. I look at an album as a performance. How do you describe a performance? Through imagery and detailed description. And that’s what I try to do. I try to put the right words in the right order to best illustrate and exemplify the depth and significance of an album in a desperate attempt to convey its story/message. I also have an insane review process, but that’s something I think I’d like to keep to myself for now.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
Just send a request to the business email or even message me on Facebook! And relax! While I’m professional about business, I’m also extremely laid back and friendly! Also, bands/musicians, sometimes your names and information are nowhere to be found. That’s really distressing for me because if I like your particular riffs/fills/verses/vocals/twangy bits, I can’t credit you properly!
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
The hardest part about this job is deadlines. Sometimes I get a rush job where I don’t have the luxury of spending time with an album. Other times I’ll get 3-4 albums sent to me and they’ll all be released on the same day, so I end up getting backlogged in reviews. Essentially, the workload can become really congested and sometimes daunting. And on top of that, I have a day-job (gotta pay the bills somehow), my own band, consultations, and whatever else life decides to throw at me. As far as solutions to this… Time management, extreme focus, and a ridiculous amount of determination. And coffee and tea. Lots of coffee and tea… Did I mention coffee?
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
I love everything about this job. Even the late nights where I’m scrambling to get a review done. If you really want me to try to pinpoint my love for this career in to one thing, I’d say it’s how close I’m able to be with the music. I’m not talking about being able to network with the talent/artist(s)- although that is a super cool plus that comes with the job- I’m talking about the literal music itself. I have this amazing opportunity to get an intimate look into the music. I get a chance to lose myself in the music and judge every aspect of it- form start to finish- based on what I’m hearing. It’s a chance to look further than what just “sounds good” to me. I have this amazing opportunity to listen to the collective emotion, energy, and passion that fills each riff and lingers in the silence between every note. It’s breathtaking. And it’s those moments when I’m so caught up in the whirlwind of meticulously placed notes, chords, hits, and kicks where I feel like I’m…free. It’s when I feel the most alive. What’s even crazier is that I take those micro-moments and turn them into words. And for some crazy reason or another, people take the time to read it and trust my judgement(s). It’s just a wondrously sensational process from the moment I press play to the moment I type my last sentence of my closing remarks.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
It really depends who you’re working for. If you’re a self-employed writer, you’re generally writing for free. If you’re hired by a magazine or media outlet, then you can expect some sort of a salary- and even that differs from company to company.
How do you move up in your field?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to work hard and know people! Dedication to the job shows people that you mean business, but you need to make friends in the industry! Who knows- one of those brilliant minds might hire you someday or open other doors for you!
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Listen with open ears and never stop writing. Even if you feel like nobody is reading what you write- keep writing. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep listening. Believe it or not, someone out there is reading your words and taking music suggestions based on your professional recommendations. Words are your most powerful tools- use them wisely.