Erin Osmon is a Midwest native whose music journalism and criticism has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and numerous other print and digital publications. She is also an instructor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School and a veteran of top Chicago newsrooms. Her new book on John Prine’s debut album is one of the latest entries in the 33 1/3 series.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I grew up in Evansville—the toe in the sock that is Indiana—in the ’80s and ’90s, obsessed with music but with little access to it. I was the kid taping songs off the radio who grew into the teenager forming a local tape trading network. I was one of about 25 or so “weird” kids in town. Anytime one of our friends went out of town to Louisville, Bloomington, St. Louis, Champaign or some other exotic urban locale, we dubbed the hell out of the 7 inches and CDs they returned with. Also, as soon as I could, I started photographing our handful of local bands, like Mock Orange, and making zines and contributing to early blogs.
After graduating from Indiana University, I moved to Chicago and began a long, hard claw. I landed my first “professional” music assignment when an editor within the Chicago Tribune editorial network, where I was working as a digital producer and social editor, asked if I’d like to “cover the girl stuff” at Lollapalooza. (I like to think I, and we as an industry, have come a long way since then.) After that, I got my masters degree and started covering music for Tribune-owned publications. I eventually became a music editor for the bygone print mag Time Out Chicago, and then music critic at Chicago Magazine. Jason Molina, one of my Midwestern musical heroes, died when I was at TOC and I made it my mission to tell his story. That book was published in 2017 and I’m so grateful for it. I then started writing for national and international publications, and writing longform album notes, which I’m really passionate about. I moved to LA and started teaching in the journalism school at USC. I published “John Prine” for the 33 ⅓ series in November of this year.